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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OPEC worries about weak oil market fundamentals

Back in April, the blog noted that stock markets had embarked on “their 7th bear market rally since October 2007″. So far, it has been the most impressive of them all, with the S&P 500 rising 40% between 6 March – 8 May, before falling 5% last week. And as the chart shows, crude oil […]

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EU GDP falls 2.5%, auto sales down 12%

Continental Europe is now in its worst recession since World War 2. GDP fell 2.5% in Q1, following a 1.6% fall in Q4. Germany, often viewed as the ‘motor’ of the eurozone, saw its GDP fall a shocking 3.8% as markets for its export-driven economy dried up. Central & Eastern Europe were badly hit by […]

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‘Checklist for Survival’ Webinar

Many thanks to everyone who signed up for yesterday’s Webinar. We ended up running two sessions, due to demand. I hope you found it stimulating and helpful. My thanks also go to Nigel Davis for chairing it, and to Alan Tyler and the ICIS team for organising the whole event. If you would like a […]

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House prices falling around the world

Only 8 countries saw house prices rise, adjusted for inflation, in 2008, out of 32 major property markets. And according to Global Property Guide, “downward price momentum significantly accelerated” in Q4, with 9 countries seeing 5% price falls. As the chart shows, Latvia, Ukraine and Hong Kong saw prices fall over 10% during the quarter. […]

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Chrysler bankruptcy to last years, not months

More details are now emerging of the US government’s plans for Chrysler. Initially President Obama said he hoped the bankruptcy process would only last 60 days. But according to Bloomberg, the administration now accepts that this period will just cover the “sale of Chrysler’s best assets” to Fiat. Suppliers, including those in the chemical industry, […]

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China’s exports fall 23% in April

China’s exports continue to disappoint. They fell 18% in January and 26% in February. March showed a slightly better performance, with a 17% fall. But April was weak again, with a 23% decline in exports and imports. China’s problem today is based on its past success in becoming the manufacturing capital of the world. Exports […]

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Wal-Mart warns of “contracting economy in China”

The Chinese government continues to express firm faith in its economy’s ability to withstand the global economic crisis. And certainly its recent imports of chemicals and polymers have been a lifeline for many companies outside the country. But now Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has reinforced the blog’s concerns about the economy. Wal-Mart reports that […]

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US Fed supports Wall Street earnings, ignores corporate sector risks

In July 2007, the US Federal Reserve warned that “credit concerns were spreading” and estimated that total bank losses due to US sub-prime loans could reach $100bn. Yet now, after the conclusion of its “stress tests”, the Fed says total bank losses could reach $600bn. In most companies, a 6-fold change in a key financial […]

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EU sees 11% jobless; US banks raise interest rates

The European Commission has again reduced its growth forecast for the EU. It now sees a 4% decline in GDP this year, and for the first time is suggesting that recovery will be delayed until mid-2010. As a result, it expects unemployment to reach 11%, which will further slow consumer spending. ‘Across the pond’, banks […]

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Tesco cuts 1.8bn plastic bags a year

The combination of consumer environmentalism with retailer cost-cutting is having the expected major impact on the UK’s use of plastic bags. All the big supermarkets have been running campaigns to reduce the use of these. Some, like Marks & Spencer, now charge 5p a bag. Others, such as Sainsbury’s, send texts to remind customers to […]

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