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

S&P Aug.jpg

US house prices keep on falling

US house prices, according to today’s S&P/Case-Shiller Index, are still falling quite sharply. As shown in the chart, they are now down 17% versus last year. The key influence, according to S&P, is that ‘the markets that were the high-flyers during the recent real estate boom continue to be the ones that are leading the […]

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China’s growth slows

China’s growth rate is slowing quite sharply. Exports to the US grew just 9% in H1, half the 2007 rate. In addition, ICIS news has reported that China’s important textile industry has seen a 25% decline in orders, whilst US polyethylene exports to China are also slowing. And the above chart showing China’s latest Purchasing […]

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The nudist beach on Wall Street

When you’re the richest man in the world, you can generally say what you think. Thus Warren Buffett reflected reality back in March, when he commented that ‘by any commonsense definition, the US is in recession’. Yesterday, he probably ruffled a few more feathers when he told CNBC that he thought the US economy was […]

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The ‘slow motion train wreck’ continues

A year ago, the noted investment analyst, Jeremy Grantham, described the credit crisis as a ‘slow motion train wreck’. The Financial Times has now updated the metaphor to describe what has happened since. It notes that train crashes happen more quickly than economic ones, and that there are pauses before the next carriage hits the […]

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BASF reduce 2008 global GDP forecast

BASF have now reduced their 2008 GDP forecast from 2.8% to 2.4%. This may sound a small amount, but it means it is now in line with the Global Downturn Scenario set out in our Feedstocks for Profit Study. Previously, it had been just below our Base Case Scenario. CEO Jurgen Hambrecht still sounds confident, […]

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Increasing change, complexity, challenge

What is the outlook for the global economy over the next few years? Are we likely to see a continuation of the 2003-7 Global Boom (the purple line)? Will growth reduce to the average level seen between 1980-2000 (the green line)? Or are we at the start of a multi-year Global Downturn (the red line)? […]

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Global inflation on the rise

Pimco, the world’s largest bond investors, are worried about rising inflation. Their main concern is that many Asian and Middle Eastern countries had ‘anchored’ their currency to the US$. ‘With that anchor gone’, they comment, ‘due to the US Federal Reserve’s focus on preventing the US financial system from falling into a depression-style downward spiral, […]

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OPEC output, Chinese oil demand, hit records

OPEC’s oil output hit an all-time record in July at 32.8Mbd, due to higher volumes from Saudi and Iran. The Saudi increase to 9.55Mbd was in line with their pledge at the Jeddah summit in June to raise output to 9.7Mbd. But the Iranian increase appears to have been a one-off, as the country sold […]

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1/3rd of US auto suppliers risk bankruptcy

US and European auto sales fell again last month. GM reported total US sales down 27% versus 2007, due to a ‘challenging US economic environment’ Toyota were down 19%, with Lexus sales badly hit, down 25% Ford were down 13%, and said they ‘expected H2 to be more challenging than H1, as economic and credit […]

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US banks tighten corporate/consumer lending

Tighter lending standards, and higher spreads for borrowers, are continuing to create headwinds for the US economy. As far back as January, senior loan officers at major US banks were reporting that they were tightening mortgage lending standards. Yesterday, the latest quarterly US Federal Reserve survey showed that 60% of banks have now tightened their […]

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