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


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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US natural gas markets in confusion

Natural gas is a major feedstock for US chemical producers. So the problems caused by the rush to buy a fund that “invests” in the natural gas futures market, are a concern. Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix has been warning for some time that the UNG fund was becoming too large. Investors have been so keen […]

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The blog was right on US GDP

In May 2008, the blog aligned itself with Harvard’s Prof Martin Feldstein, who declared that the Q1 2008 US GDP report was “grossly misleading“. Feldstein, after all, was in a position to know, as he was then chairman of the official body that decides whether the US is in recession. 15 months later, the US […]

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Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

Its not only the blog (and fellow blogger John Richardson), who worry about the speculative frenzy underway in China, and its impact on global polymer and chemical markets. Wu Xiaoling, former deputy governor of the central bank, has called the growth in new lending “excessive“, and warned it is creating “bubbles in the property and […]

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Lies, damn lies, and statistics

Source: Chartoftheday.com There are “lies, damn lies, and statistics” according to Mark Twain, the famous American humorist. His argument was that statistics are often (a) untrue* and (b) used without the necessary context. Last week provided a perfect example of the latter. As the blog’s own Boom/Gloom Index© shows, sentiment is currently very positive in […]

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Chemical production stabilises as destocking ends

The excellent weekly report from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) has a number of interesting insights: • As the chart shows, global chemical production seems to have bottomed. All regions are, however, now showing a decline versus 2008. • Separately, the ACC has updated its valuable survey of the state of inventories down the US […]

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US housing loans still toxic assets

There are two main views on the financial crisis that began last September. The mainstream view, as expressed by the US Federal Reserve, is that it was a problem of liquidity. Banks became frightened to lend, and so the Fed stepped in as “lender of last resort”. So given time, everything will soon be back […]

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Refiners’ margins come under pressure

In another sign of the economy ‘bouncing along the bottom’, US drivers appear to have returned to the road in recent months. Latest figures from the US Highway Administration show a 0.1% rise in vehicle miles travelled during May, the second consecutive month of positive growth since 2007. But this is unlikely to provide much […]

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