About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. 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

The Saudi oil ‘summit’

There seems to be remarkably little information about Saudi Arabia’s planned oil ‘summit’ next Sunday in Jeddah. The first news of it seemed to be released rather informally, via a ‘junior official’ at the Oil Ministry. Since then, various rumours have been reported, but nothing very substantive. All we seem to know for certain at […]

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Asian stockmarkets fall on stagflation risk

I noted earlier this year that China was now exporting inflation, rather than the deflation of the past decade. Working in Asia again this week, one can see a major change in attitudes is now underway. Rising food and energy prices are having an enormous impact, and Asian governments are clearly nervous about the potential […]

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Leading indicators signal chemicals slowdown

The latest leading indicators from the OECD (shown in red above) are now diverging quite strongly from actual Industrial Production performance (shown in blue). The chart is taken for the latest American Chemistry Council (ACC) weekly report, and the ACC comment that the indicators should anticipate changes in ‘global industrial activity’ and ‘provide early signals […]

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Anecdotal evidence

The blog usually focuses on news items and analysis. But just occasionally, anecdotal evidence seems worth reporting. My colleague, John Keeley, is well known to many readers from his days at Shell Chemicals, as well as more recently with IeC. Just back from chairing the ICIS Phenol and Acetone Conference in Budapest, he reports that […]

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Interesting quotes (5)

Every now and then, a few interesting quotes come along, which seem to recent summarise developments, and set the tone for the next few months. Recent days have been a good example of this process at work: ‘The era of cheap energy is over, as oil production isn’t rising fast enough to meet demand amid […]

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US natural gas prices rise 65%

The US price for natural gas has risen faster than crude so far this year. It is already up almost 65%. Rising coal and oil prices have encouraged power generators to switch to gas, whilst lower Canadian exports and a tight global LNG market have helped to push prices higher. Increasing demand for ethanol will […]

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High inflation, or global downturn?

Central bankers had it easy over the past decade. Now they are going to have to earn their money. Inflation is rising rapidly, and growth rates are falling. But unfortunately, as I first noted back in March, they still seem to have differing ideas about what policies will best counter these twin challenges.

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Dow warns on US economy

US economic conditions are ‘ominous”, and may worsen into 2009, according to Dow CEO, Andrew Liveris. “A month ago we might have said … the US slowdown could be bottoming, but I don’t think it is bottoming,” Liveris said in response to analysts’ questions at an investor conference in New York. He added that “I […]

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Father Christmas didn’t visit last month

Yesterday’s action in financial markets reminded me of the Bird/Fortune video (noted here in December), where they took a satirical look at the causes of the sub-prime debacle. Specifically, the question in the interview where Fortune describes Bird as a ‘sophisticated investment banker, with his fingers right on the pulse’. The moment that recalled this […]

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Leadership – its a team thing

The blog doesn’t often comment on management issues. But one interesting article has caught my eye today. A major study reported in the Financial Times suggests that ‘leadership teams were four times as important as leaders in the process of developing strategy’. And it quotes Lee Scott, Wal-Mart’s CEO as saying that ‘I don’t run […]

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