About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. He also serves as a Global Expert for the World Economic Forum. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry and the global economy over the next 12 – 18 months. It looks behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in critical areas such as oil prices, China and Emerging Markets, currencies, autos, housing, economic growth and the environment. 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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Reported earnings forecast slow recovery when restocking ends

US corporate earnings were down a record 89% in Q1 versus the previous 12 months at just $7. Q2 saw only a minor improvement with earnings at only $8. Its interesting, therefore, to see market expectations for 2010. The chart is based on S&P analyst forecasts, and shows “reported earnings” (red line) are expected to […]

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EU chemicals volume down 10% versus 2005 levels

The above chart, from Moncef Hadhri’s excellent monthly report from CEFIC (the European chemical industry association) provides an interesting snapshot of the state of the EU chemical industry. On the positive side, it shows that recovery from the destocking period was well underway in June (the latest data available). Volume (green line), had risen 10% […]

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Current policies make downturns “more dangerous”

Some readers may remember the 2007 and 2008 reports from the Bank of International Settlements (the central bankers’ bank). In July 2007 the blog titled its summary ‘4 risks to the world economy’, and July 2008′s was titled ‘The difficult task of damage control’. Not all of the BIS’s forecasts proved correct, but it was […]

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Central banks warn on likely growth rates

Coincidentally, both the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England yesterday signalled the probable end of the ‘the recession’ yesterday. But as the blog noted last month, statistics don’t tell the whole story. The issue is that economists usually define recession as simply being 2 or more quarters of negative growth. Automatically, therefore, any […]

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Smart shoppers focus on needs, not wants

After destocking, and then restocking, what next? The blog is a great believer in following the insights of the major retailers, who have been consistently “on the money” in their analysis. Thus it takes very seriously the comments of Wal-Mart CEO, Mike Duke, who has joined the camp of those who believe we face a […]

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Tyre duties highlight protectionist pressures

Globalisation flourished whilst economic growth was strong. Jobs lost in Western countries were replaced by new jobs. Whilst cheaper production offshore kept consumer prices low, as well as bringing more people into the world economy. But today’s economic downturn means this virtuous circle is turning vicious. Western countries are becoming more protectionist and hope to […]

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Markets enjoy a “reflexive rebound”

6 months ago, when the blog last reviewed global stock market performance, it thought it likely we would “continue to see major bear market rallies“. Coincidentally, 7 March proved to be a market bottom, since when markets are up a minimum of 36%. Russia is the best performer, up 108%, whilst China is the weakest. […]

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China says “perseverance” needed as crisis continues

China was the first major country to feel the impact of the financial crisis. In August 2008, it noted that “the era of low costs and high growth has come to an end for China, and an economic restructuring is inevitable”. Since then, of course, China’s export-dependent economy has meant it has been one of […]

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Oil prices continue to plateau

Last year, OPEC meetings led to newspaper headlines. But today’s session in Vienna seems to have slipped off the radar. Yet the oil market remains as important as ever to chemical companies. As the chart shows, the prime driver for oil prices (blue line) is still the financial market. Traders continue to believe recovery is […]

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G-20 moves on financial regulation

Last April’s G-20 Summit brought together the leaders of the major world economies. Yet in terms of their announced goals for the Summit, financial regulation seemed to be the only one that gained traction. That impression is confirmed by the weekend’s meeting of Finance Ministers, in preparation for the next Summit in Pittsburgh later this […]

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