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

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China’s speculative surge slows

Q2 saw an outburst of speculative frenzy all around the world, and in a wide variety of financial markets. China’s Dalian futures market saw LLDPE volume soar to 80 million tonnes – around 4 times total annual world demand. China’s easy money policy meant it was easy to borrow to speculate on a quick recovery. […]

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Global downsizing needed to rebalance supply and demand

The chemical industry has benefited from a benign paradigm over the past 25 years: • Demographics in the west have encouraged consumption, as the baby-boom generation reached middle age • Globalisation meant this could be achieved at lower cost, by outsourcing production to lower-wage countries in the east • Workers in the east saved their […]

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IEA warns on economic downturn, lower oil demand

Crude oil markets have risen 60% in recent months, as traders speculate on a quick V-shaped economic recovery. But there are growing signs that reality, in the shape of evidence of falling US and global oil demand, may be about to reassert itself. Latest US statistics remain very negative: • Total oil product demand is […]

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US demand bouncing along the bottom

The good news from the latest reports on US house prices and auto sales was simple – things have stopped getting worse. US house prices saw “some stabilisation in some regions” according to the S&P/Case Shiller Index for April. Whilst auto sales are clearly bouncing along the bottom, down “only” 29% in June versus May’s […]

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Dow aligns US ethylene balances

Capacity closures are always hard to achieve in the petchem industry: • First, these are a ‘zero sum game’ – if I shut my plant, then other producers gain in terms of overall operating rates and margins, at my expense • Secondly, there is the integration issue. Closing a consuming plant also impacts output from […]

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Boom/Gloom Index rally continues

Last month, the blog introduced its new Boom/Gloom Index, designed to track sentiment in financial markets. The chart above now updates it to reflect the whole of June. The Index has continued to move up, and is close to the levels last seen in October 2007. Equally remarkable is the performance of the Green Shoots […]

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Germany, China, struggle as exports slump

Germany and China have benefited massively from the growth in world trade since 1980. As the Wall Street Journal chart shows, 47% of Germany’s GDP comes from exports. And China has a 37% dependence. US exports are just 13% of GDP, so it is more self-sufficient. Both countries have punched above their weight in terms […]

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The blog’s 2nd birthday

The blog is now 2 years old. Its readership is very loyal, and continues to grow. 64% of current readers bookmark the blog, and read it regularly. And it is now being read in 2088 cities and 111 countries – versus 1244 cities, and 89 countries, 6 months ago. Its regular readership is also very […]

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Ineos agrees higher interest charges with lenders

Economic recovery can’t come soon enough for Ineos. After 7 months of negotiation, it has finally agreed new covenants for its €7.3bn of debt with its major lenders. These will now be put to all 230 lenders for approval by 17 July. But the price is high: • Initially, Ineos was paying c2.5% over euro […]

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Gasoline markets slip, financial markets stumble

Yesterday’s financial market action was very revealing. As Olivier Jakob of Petromatrix perceptively describes it, “liquidation on gasoline led to a correction in crude oil, which in turn pressured equity markets”. The problem is that financial markets now seem to be in circular mode: • Speculation about tighter oil markets has led to a belief […]

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