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

Merkel.jpg

Germany attacks central bank policy

During the growth years, it became fashionable for politicians to claim that central banks were “independent”. But as the current crisis has grown, this has been increasingly exposed as a myth. As the blog noted back in September 2007, Alan Greenspan (former US Federal Reserve Chairman), revealed that ‘the presumption that we were fully independent […]

Continue Reading
autos Jun09.jpg

Difficult decisions loom on future US auto demand

By the end of May last year, 6.2m autos had been sold in the US market, each containing $2700 of chemicals (according to the ACC). The total sales value to the chemical industry was $16.8bn. So far this year, just 3.9m autos have been sold, with a value of $10.7bn. Recent downturns have always seen […]

Continue Reading
Alice.jpg

Markets in Wonderland

Picture: www.amazon.com “Sometimes, I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast” said the Queen in Lewis Carroll’s famous book, ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Today would have been a good day for her to practise this ability, as she read her newspaper: GM, once the world’s largest auto manufacturer, went into bankruptcy. US stock markets […]

Continue Reading

May’s top posts

The 3 most popular posts in May were: Dow, Ineos focus on debt issues Rotterdam oil storage running out of space Green shoots likely to be yellow weeds The blog will be celebrating its 2nd birthday at the end of the month. I would welcome your comments on what you value about it, and what […]

Continue Reading
China bags.jpg

China’s plastic bag ban cuts usage by 66%

A year ago today, China banned the issue of free plastic bags from supermarkets, shops and open markets. And it seems the ban has had considerable success. Supermarkets have used 66% fewer bags, according to government figures. The ban has saved 1.6m tons of oil, whilst also reducing pollution. Although street markets seem to have […]

Continue Reading
Russia May09.jpg

Russia’s chemical production tumbles

Last week’s global production numbers highlighted the startling collapse in output from Central & Eastern Europe. This was the worst regional performer in Q1, and the blog decided to investigate further. Russian output is key to the region’s performance. And the chart, based on data kindly provided by ICIS’s Sergei Blagov, shows how all parts […]

Continue Reading

Adultery signals for traders

My fellow-blogger, Barbara, cleverly spotted this week’s ‘Global Traders Summit’ in Singapore. Had this blog been there, it would have mentioned the latest, apparently fool-proof, way to determine stock market turning points, based on bankers’ interest in adultery. According to Bloomberg, the Illicit Encounters website has a major increase in traffic when either the market […]

Continue Reading
Naimi right.jpg

Saudi confirms $75/bbl oil price target

Back in December, the blog analysed statements by King Abdullah, and concluded that Saudi Arabia had a ‘target range’ for oil prices of $75 – 100/bbl. Yesterday, this analysis was confirmed by Saudi Oil Minister, Ali Naimi, who said the world economy could now “weather oil prices at $75 – 80/bbl”. The blog fears that […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading
Housing permits May09.jpg

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 […]

Continue Reading