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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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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California seals deal on $26bn deficit

California’s Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has now made a provisional agreement to reduce the State’s soaring budget deficit. Its main features are a $9bn temporary cut in the education budget, plus multi-$bn cuts in welfare and health programmes. The only good news is that it clears the way for oil drilling to resume off the Santa […]

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Luxury brands launch half-price sales

A year ago, the blog brought news that July’s Paris fashion sales were seeing prices reduced by 70% on shoes, bags and dresses. Today, the slowing global economy is apparently leading to even more bargains. According to the Financial Times, “desperate times are forcing the likes of Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, and Jimmy Choo to […]

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US housing starts rise 3.6%

The blog is rather pleased with the performance of its new Boom/Gloom Index©, as financial markets continue to respond positively to any suggestion of “good news”. The Index is based on Ben Graham’s famous concept that markets are: • A voting machine in the short-term but • A weighing machine in the long-term It is […]

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Ineos confirms new covenants agreed

As expected, Ineos have today confirmed that their proposed new covenants have now been accepted by their lenders. For those unfamiliar with the mechanisms used in the world of high-yield debt, this does not involve any new money, or a refinancing. Instead, it means that the lenders have agreed to provide Ineos with more head-room […]

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Swedish bank takes over Top 50 European automotive supplier from private equity

In 2007, Sweden was the largest private equity market in Europe, as a percentage of the country’s GDP. And the local banks lent freely, as elsewhere, to fund investments. Now they, and other Nordic banks, are struggling to minimise their losses. According to Bloomberg, Sweden’s second-biggest bank, Handelsbanken, “seized parts of Plastal Group and Plastal […]

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European auto sales increase versus 2008

Any improvement in the troubled auto sector is extremely good news for the chemical industry, after the battering of the past few months. Thus the blog welcomes news, as the chart shows, that European sales increased 2.4% in June, the first rise for over a year. Government support for scrapping older cars has led the […]

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