About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. Paul is also an invited member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry over the next 12 – 18 months. It will try to look behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in important issues such oil prices, economic growth and the environment. We may also have some fun, investigating a few of the more offbeat events that take place from time to time. Please do join me and share your thoughts. Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.

Author Archive | Paul Hodges

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IMF says “demand has collapsed”, sees “deflation risk”

A year ago, the International Monetary Fund rightly warned that the world was facing a “serious economic slowdown”. This week, it has updated its forecasts, and now “expects the global economy to come to a virtual standstill in 2009″. This will be “the lowest rate of global GDP growth since World War II”. As the […]

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Dow Chemical moves to Plan B

A month ago, after the collapse of the K-Dow deal, the blog suggested that Dow would need to move quickly to a Plan B. It added that “nobody would be very surprised if it now sought to renegotiate the proposed Rohm & Haas acquisition”. This now seems to be underway, judging by two pieces of […]

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Saudi cuts oil output below OPEC quota

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, now seems to be moving to Phase 2 of its efforts to achieve a $75 – $100bbl price range. As the blog noted in early December, the Saudis’ initial tactic was to play ‘hardball’ within OPEC. The aim was to ensure that other countries did not try to […]

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Global chemical production down 4.4% in November

Global chemical production is now falling at an alarming rate, down over 4% in November, as core demand from housing/construction and auto markets collapses. Only the Middle East is now seeing positive growth year-on-year. As the chart shows (using ACC data): • N America is now down 12% • W Europe/C&E Europe are down over […]

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INEOS announce €1bn inventory loss in Q4

In early October, I forecast that we were about to revisit “the scariest moment of my 30 year chemical career”, adding that: “The moment the blog has long feared, and warned about, may be about to arrive. It appears that we may be about to revisit 1980, when for some weeks it seemed that demand […]

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Asian economies hit: US home starts slump

Asia is hard-hit by the downturn in the Western economy. Today, China said its Q4 GDP had grown just 6.8%, the slowest level since 2001. This led premier Wen Jiabao to say the outlook for jobs was “very grim”. It also increased speculation that China will devalue the renmimbi, which would increase trade tensions within […]

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INEOS, Georgia Gulf, Chemtura bond prices plunge

Bond markets are a good place to look if you want to understand the outlook for major companies in the chemical industry. A key market is in ‘credit default swaps’ (CDS), which offer insurance against the possibility that a company might default. The way they work is that the owner of a bond, or a […]

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Shanghai region slows

The Yangtze River Delta region (which includes Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang) accounted for 22% of China’s GDP in 2007. It is focused on exports to the USA and EU, and is a major centre for chemicals production. But now, like the Pearl River Delta, its economy is slowing fast. According to the China Daily, an […]

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IEA revises down oil demand

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has cut its estimate of expected global GDP growth in 2009 to just 1.2%. It therefore expects the world to record its first back-to-back annual decline in oil demand since 1982/3. It says oil production last month was unchanged at 86.2mbd, despite OPEC cutbacks and the first fall in Russian […]

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Middle East liquidity dries up

In the soccer world, the UAE has been making headlines this week. It is proposing to fund the first-ever £100m ($150m) transfer – of the Brazilian player, Kaka, to Manchester City. But behind the scenes, the collapse of the oil price has been playing havoc with the economies of the Gulf countries (GCC). HSBC, for […]

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