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 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

US economy’s demographic dividend is fast turning into a deficit

My new post for the Financial Times FT Data blog discusses how the ageing of the US population is creating major headwinds for the economy. Guest post by Paul Hodges| May 06 13:45 | Demographic change is creating major headwinds for the US economy, as confirmed by its disappointing first quarter GDP growth of 0.2 […]

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US Marcellus gas output trebles as drilling rig count halves

Simple stories aren’t always true.  That’s certainly the case with the fiction that the fall in the number of US oil drilling rigs will soon reduce US oil production. Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson recently reminded us of this critical point: “Clearly a significant decline in rig activity did not diminish the continued growth of […]

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Polypropylene highlights impact of China’s new economic direction

Polypropylene (PP) is one of the world’s major plastics – used in areas as diverse as car bumpers and food packaging.  And in recent years, consumption has soared due to China’s seemingly insatiable demand, as it became the manufacturing capital of the world. But now, all that is changing.  As we warned in chapter 2 of ‘Boom, Gloom […]

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US auto sales close to running on empty

We’ve all had that moment of jumping into the car, and turning on the ignition, only to realise we forgot to fill up the fuel tank on the last journey. US auto sales data for April is flashing that same familiar orange warning light. From the outside, everything looked fine with the data.  Although there […]

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“Sell in May and go away?” as US/German bond yields jump

A strange thing happened to German 10-year interest rates last week – they rose quite sharply, by a further 0.2%. That may not sound a lot, but it is when the starting point is so low.  On 20 April, they were at 0.07%, and on Friday they closed at 0.37% – for a total rise […]

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China issues Top 100 list of most-wanted corruption fugitives

$2.83tn is estimated to have left China illegally as a result of corruption between 2005 – 2011.  This helps to explain the remarkable poster above, which shows China’s Interpol list of its 100 “most-wanted” corruption suspects.  It has just been published by China’s state media, with the following explanation: “The China National Central Bureau of […]

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US GDP Apr15

US GDP disappoints again as aging Boomers slow the economy

“Year after year we have had to explain from mid-year on why the global growth rate has been lower than predicted as little as two quarters back.” That was the comment, last August, from the new deputy chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Stanley Fischer.  This year, he won’t have to wait until mid-year to start the […]

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Most oil producing countries have operating costs below $20/bbl

“I don’t take the view that they (OPEC) are in any way trying to threaten other suppliers. I think they’re really kind of on a classic price-discovery exercise, which is important for all of us as investors to know.” This was the analysis of ExxonMobil CEO, Rex Tillerson, in Houston last week.   And he […]

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China lend Apr15

China lending curbs will hit global property bubbles

China’s interest bill this year is around $1.7tn, according to ratings agency Fitch.  And no, the “tn” isn’t a typo. China’s interest bill is indeed around the total size of India’s economy, and larger than the economies of S Korea ($1.3tn), Spain ($1.4tn) or Mexico ($1.3tn). Common sense tells us that no economy can afford […]

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Global chemical slowdown highlights China impact

The global chemical downturn has now been underway for nearly a year.  And latest data on regional production volume from the American Chemistry Council for March shows no sign of improvements, as the chart highlights: Global demand growth in March was just 2.9% (black line), versus the healthy 5% growth seen a year ago Asia has […]

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