About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. Paul is also an invited member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council. 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 as 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

European auto sales slide continues

European auto sales fell 25% in January, according to JD Power. This equals an annualised rate of just 11m cars, the lowest since the early 1990′s. 13.6m were sold in 2008. And although the forecaster hopes for some improvement later in the year, it suggests that “a late 2010 recovery is the most likely timing”. […]

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LyondellBasell may be largest-ever bankruptcy

The financial fallout from the Lyondell (LBI) bankruptcy continues, as the banks slowly begin to acknowledge their losses. According to Bloomberg, RBS has taken a $1.47bn hit, Citigroup $1.4bn, and Goldman Sachs $850m. UBS are also believed to have lost at least $500m. But like Bank of America (new owners of Merrill Lynch), they have […]

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Germany’s industrial orders collapse 29%

There is little justice in today’s recession. Countries that saved hard, and avoided reckless lending, are seeing their economies collapse as fast as those that spent as if there was no tomorrow. Thus Germany is now following the path already trodden by other export-oriented economies, such as Japan and most of the emerging economies. As […]

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ExxonMobil says older plants need to shut

Restructuring will become an important issue for the chemical industry, according to John Verity, ExxonMobil’s polyolefins head. Speaking to ICIS news, he was downbeat about short-term prospects, noting that whilst some restocking is currently underway, “we are not likely to see any real demand until the end of the quarter”. Earlier, in his speech to […]

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Brazil’s exports fall 29%

The emerging economies, which built their growth on exports to the West, are being badly hit by the global recession. Brazil, where poverty levels were at their lowest level for 30 years, is now seeing recent gains unwind. Its exports fell 29% in January, the biggest drop since 1991. This followed a terrible December, when […]

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GM, Chrysler’s US sales collapse

January’s US auto sales figures gave no hope that demand is yet bottoming out. Volumes were down 41% versus 2008. As the chart shows, the main pain was felt by GM and Chrysler, who saw sales down 49% and 55% respectively. A key factor in the downturn for both companies was a collapse in fleet […]

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ExxonMobil weathers the storm

One can still rely on ExxonMobil to deliver positive results, even whilst the world is collapsing around them. Friday’s report showed Q4 chemical volumes down 20%, as a result of hurricane effects and destocking. But although earnings tumbled from $1.1bn in 2007, they were still in the black at $0.2bn.

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S Korean exports drop 33% in January

The scale of the crisis in Asian economies becomes clearer, month by month. Exports account for nearly half of S Korea’s GDP. In January, these dropped 33%. Of course, January is always a slow month, due to the Lunar New Year, but these figures followed earlier falls of 19% in November and 18% in December. […]

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China plans “extraordinary measures”

China faces a difficult outlook, after the collapse of its main export markets in the West. Interviewed by the Financial Times today, China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, sets out a pragmatic list of “forceful” actions that are now underway. Most are Keynesian measures, aimed at putting money in the pockets of those who are most likely […]

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Most economic forecasts are too optimistic

Prof David Blanchflower, of the Bank of England, is not optimistic that the current recession will end soon. He notes that “few macro-economists actually spotted the greatest financial crisis in a hundred years”. And in the chart above, showing OECD forecasts for the UK economy during the last recession, he demonstrates that forecasters kept predicting […]

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