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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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Dow, Ineos, focus on debt issues

Dow and Ineos are two of the world’s largest chemical companies. Both found themselves in tight financial situations at the start of the year. Dow’s debt rating was cut to just above junk, whilst Ineos had to ask for covenant waivers. Since then, Dow has moved to tackle its debt issues very energetically. First it […]

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“Green shoots” likely to be “yellow weeds”

The full extent of the recent damage to chemical industry output can be seen in the above chart, based on new figures from the American Chemistry Council. The story is stark: • Global chemical output was down 14% in March, after falling off a cliff in Q4. The 1979-80 pattern repeated itself again, as the […]

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