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 as 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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Electric cars could change naphtha balances

Last week, Nissan said its new Leaf model had achieved 367 mpg (156 kpl) in city driving. And this week, GM said its Volt could get an average 100 mpg rating. Pedro Spohr of Galp in Portugal was therefore clearly right last October, when he suggested to the blog that the new range of electric […]

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Cerberus loses $6bn in just 2 years with Chrysler

Cerberus’ timing was clearly not very good with its Chrysler acquisition in Q3 2007. And Steve Feinberg, Cerberus co-founder, admitted this when he told the New York Times “we were too optimistic on timing. Maybe what we should have done was not bought it.” So far, they have lost $6bn of their original $7.4bn investment. […]

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Benzene signals a market top

As regular readers will know, the blog believes benzene is a good leading indicator for chemical demand, due to its widespread use in the industry. Last November saw its price “on the floor“, indicating a major downturn, and it remained there until March, before its price began to “surge” in early April as destocking ended […]

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The banks’ plumbing systems appear to be blocked

The blog’s favourite financial journalist, Gillian Tett, has written an excellent article summarising the similarities between today’s problems in the western banking system, and those of Japan’s during the ‘lost decade’ of the 1990′s. Her point is that although central banks are pouring money into the system via ‘quantitative easing’, it is clearly not reaching […]

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China’s banks worry about the speculative bubble

This year, China has been the one place in the world where almost anyone can get a loan. But now, it seems policy is about to change. Zhang Jianguo, president of the 2nd largest bank, China Construction, has announced a 70% cut in H2 lending to Rmb 200bn ($29bn), “to avert a surge in bad […]

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Procter & Gamble goes Basic

As the downturn began In July 2007, leading retailers Tesco and Wal-Mart “signalled a major shift in consumer priorities“. And Tesco added a warning that “If you don’t have the basic things right, you will be talking at the edge rather than at the centre“. 2 years later Procter & Gamble, one of the world’s […]

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US auto sales continue rebound

US auto sales have not yet followed the European lead, and shown an increase versus 2008 levels. And they certainly don’t match China’s 17% sales increase in H1. But they were down just 11% in July. And Ford did post its first annual sales gain since November 2007. As the chart shows, all the major […]

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Sodium silicate becomes ‘killer app’ for old engines

Sales of most chemicals are down due to the recession. But US sodium silicate volumes could see a massive boost, according to the Wall Street Journal. The reason is that the government has mandated its use to destroy the engines of the old cars that it buys under the subsidy scheme. Normally ‘liquid glass’, as […]

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August’s Boom/Gloom Index turns more cautious

Merrill Lynch’s Bob Farrell was the doyen of sentiment analysts. He famously suggested that ‘bear markets have three stages – sharp down, reflexive rebound, a drawn-out fundamental downtrend’. So far we have certainly seen the ‘sharp down’ period, and the blog’s new Boom/Gloom Index© seems to have signalled the current ‘reflexive rebound‘, with July’s Index […]

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No sign of any upturn

This week’s company results have been keenly awaited, as the industry seeks to form a view on what happens next to demand and profits. My new IeC colleague Paul Satchell reviews them, from the point of view of a highly-experienced financial analyst, in his ‘Chemicals Viewpoint’. But the blog thought it would also be interesting […]

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