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

China and US house prices

The Financial Times today highlights the overwhelming importance of falling US house prices to the outlook for the global economy. It notes that prices are now falling by 2.2%/month, causing a $380bn wealth loss in March alone. It adds that if prices continue to fall at this rate, “the total loss in 2009 would be […]

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US house prices, building permits, see record declines

US house prices are still seeing “record declines” according to today’s Case-Shiller home price index. The national price was down 19.1% from March 2008, and 32% from the Q2 2006 peak. As before, the over-built Sunbelt led the way, with Phoenix, Arizona down 36% from last year. But now, the index is picking up major […]

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Dow, Ineos, focus on debt issues

Dow and Ineos are two of the world’s largest chemical companies. Both found themselves in tight financial situations at the start of the year. Dow’s debt rating was cut to just above junk, whilst Ineos had to ask for covenant waivers. Since then, Dow has moved to tackle its debt issues very energetically. First it […]

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“Green shoots” likely to be “yellow weeds”

The full extent of the recent damage to chemical industry output can be seen in the above chart, based on new figures from the American Chemistry Council. The story is stark: • Global chemical output was down 14% in March, after falling off a cliff in Q4. The 1979-80 pattern repeated itself again, as the […]

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More credit crunch jokes

With public holidays in many parts of the world this weekend, my colleague Andy Gibbins has kindly collated a new selection of credit crunch jokes: You know it’s a credit crunch when… • The cashpoint (ATM) asks if you can spare any change. • There’s a ‘buy one, get one free’ offer – on banks. […]

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Thought for the day

It is now generally accepted that reckless lending has helped cause the greatest collapse in the global economy since the Depression years of the 1930′s. Yet many bankers still maintain it is vital they continue to pursue “innovation” of the type that has brought about this collapse. Martin Wolf, a former EPCA speaker, makes a […]

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Hopes of China recovery “premature” – World Bank

The high level of speculation accompanying China’s apparent economic revival worries the World Bank. “Until we see a recovery in private investment, it’s hard to get too excited about the future,” according to David Dollar, the Bank’s country director for China, at a Beijing seminar today. Dollar added that “private investment, the main driver of […]

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New US auto fuel standards provide chemical companies with major opportunities

The new US fuel economy standards announced today by President Obama are very big news for the chemical industry. By 2016, all new autos will have to meet a 39 miles/gallon standard, up 42% from the current 27.5 mpg. Trucks will have to do 30 mpg, versus 23 mpg today. They are important for two […]

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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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