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

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US housing slows again

Financial markets have been buoyant in recent weeks, as I noted recently. But this is at odds with actual newsflow. The chart above, from Kevin Swift’s excellent weekly report for the American Chemistry Council, highlights once again the dire state of US housing. March should be a buoyant month for house sales. Yet existing home […]

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Innovation awards for bankers?

ICIS has just announced its annual Innovation Awards for the chemical industry. Perhaps ICIS might now consider establishing a separate award for central bankers? A rush of new lending facilities seems to be on the way, as they try to find new ways to unblock the pipes that allow money to flow between banks.

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‘Longer, deeper, wider’

Singapore is one of the global economic success stories of recent decades. Its sovereign wealth fund, GIC, is one of the world’s largest fund management companies, with assets of over $100bn. And GIC has already been active during the early stages of the credit crunch, investing $18bn since December in supporting cash-calls from Citigroup and […]

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A tale of two outlooks – part 2

In an early blog last July, I marvelled at the contrast between the then upbeat nature of financial markets, and the gloom apparent elsewhere. I suggested that these two views of life couldn’t ‘continue to exist alongside each other for ever’, and suggested that whatever scenario came out on top would ‘have major implications for […]

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UK ‘at risk of US-style housing slump’

UK readers, and others invested in the outlook for the UK housing market, may be particularly interested in the FT this weekend. It devotes 2 prime pages to a detailed analysis by Fitch, the ratings agency, of sub-prime and buy-to-let lending. As we know from the US, these are the most risky types of lending, […]

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Russian crude supply ‘peaking’

Russia is the world’s 2nd largest oil producer. And it has been the main source of increased crude production in recent years. Its output rose 58% between 1999-2006, from 6.2mbd to 9.8mbd. Now Lukoil’s VP, Leonid Fedun, has told the Financial Times that he thinks 2007 output will be ‘the highest he will see in […]

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‘Sometimes those questions lead to war’

The weekend’s finance minister meeting in Washington DC seems to have been quite different from its predecessors. Not only did they apparently have an ‘informal brainstorming session’ at one point, but they also found themselves confronted with two major and on-going crises: • We have to ‘put food into hungry mouths’ commented Bob Zoellick, President […]

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Every silver lining has a cloud

I am currently lucky enough to be visiting Asia every month. This also gives me a chance to ‘check the temperature’ as regards people’s outlook on the economy. And I think its fair to say that the mood has moved from optimism to caution. Good news is tempered by its potential downside.

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The April Fools Day rally

There is an extraordinary main feature in this week’s Barron’s, the leading US investment magazine. This analyses the dramatic 391 point rally in the Dow Jones Industrials Index on 1 April. It describes this as ‘a spectacular exercise in the absurd’, and claims that the root cause was an April Fools spoof sent out that […]

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Credit crisis losses could reach $1 trillion – IMF

Last week the IMF warned there was a 25% chance of a global recession in 2008. Today, it said that the ‘crisis (was) creating serious macroeconomic feedback effects’ and could have ‘profound financial system and macroeconomic implications’. We normally expect central bankers to weigh their words carefully. But now the IMF has decided to throw […]

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