About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. 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

India toilets Jul14

Indian Oil join campaign to build toilets in India

The blog is delighted to be able to congratulate Indian Oil (IOC) on becoming the first company to commit to building toilets in India.  In response to Premier Modi’s appeal, the chairman of India’s bggest refiner, B. Ashok, last week personally began to build toilets at a school near its refinery in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh state. IOC have […]

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Subprime loans drive US auto sales growth

Major problems are developing in the US auto market.   The critical issue is that companies have been adding capacity since 2009 on the basis that demand would return to SuperCycle levels.  But it hasn’t. The result is that the mass market has become more and more competitive.  Only sales into the high margin luxury/pickup segments are actually […]

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Turkish plastics markets see imports fall for first time since 2008

Turkey is the blog’s “go-to” market when it wants to confirm trends in global markets.  The reason is that Turkey has a very successful downstream industry, but has failed to invest in upstream capacity.  This means it is essentially an opportunistic market from a sellers’ viewpoint. During good times, exporters will only divert product from […]

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YouTube Oct14

European companies missing a major growth opportunity

We all know that the European economy is in a bad way.   Sales and incomes are under pressure, and political risk is rising, whilst unemployment remains at high levels.  Its very easy to get depressed about the outlook. We are also unlikely to get much help from policymakers.  They remain in their world of mathematical models.  These […]

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Interest rate outlook more uncertain as Bill Gross leaves PIMCO

Last week’s departure of Bill Gross from his role as Chief Investment Officer at PIMCO is likely to prove a turning point for interest rates in the West, and probably around the world. Gross founded PIMCO (Pacific Investment Management Co) more than 40 years ago.  During this time he built its assets under management to around $2tn.   That is […]

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Equity markets under pressure as Boom/Gloom Index signals Great Unwinding

Whisper it quietly if you are walking past the imposing Federal Reserve building in Washington DC, so as not to disturb the occupants.  They believe that their efforts to boost financial markets have had their effect, and that the real economy, in which we all live and work, will now recover. But what if the […]

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Polymer markets at risk if China’s ‘collateral trade’ unwinds

Global metal markets are at growing risk from developments in China’s ‘collateral trade’, as yesterday’s post highlighted.  Worryingly, so are products such as polyethylene and ethylene glycol, as it seems likely these have also been used as collateral more recently.  This will be bad news for producers already suffering from slowing demand: China’s economy continues to weaken as the […]

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China’s $10bn trade deal fraud hits iron ore and copper markets

Iron ore prices on China’s futures market were at 5-year lows yesterday.  Copper prices also weakened in Australia.  This adds to the blog’s concern that China’s ‘collateral trade’ market is getting closer and closer to its ‘moment of truth’. This will come as an awful shock to most outside observers, who have been led to believe China’s vast imports […]

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Time to look forward, not back, for European petrochemicals

The European petrochemicals industry is in crisis.  Operating rates dropped below 85% in H2 2008, and have never recovered.  Now there is a danger that it faces death by a thousand cuts.  This would be a tragedy for the European economy, as it would imply the loss of tens of thousands of well-paid jobs along […]

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US Fed governor agrees it helped fund Alibaba bubble

The last days of a bubble are always the most fun.  And Alibaba’s New York market debut last Friday will be one of those to treasure and report to the grandchildren in decades to come.  There were so many elements to enjoy: The investment bankers got the price wrong by 40%, but will still walk away with […]

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