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

Boom/Gloom Index suggests volatile August may lie ahead

It may be an idea to keep your smartphone charged and within reach, if you are planning a trip to the beach this month.  Certainly market behaviour since June has been more and more skittish.  The experts, after all, were telling us that central banks were certain to do more major stimulus efforts to boost […]

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US GDP Jul16

Political risk and total debt rise as US GDP disappoints, again

Its déjà vu all over again for the US economy.  Friday’s news of Q2′s weak US GDP growth only confirmed the August 2014 comment by Stanley Fischer, then just appointed deputy Chairman of the US Federal Reserve: “Year after year we have had to explain from mid-year on why the global growth rate has been lower […]

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Lack of affordability limits gasoline demand growth

How much of your day’s wage does it cost you to buy a US gallon of gasoline?  This chart from Bloomberg shows the answer for 61 countries, based on prices for 95 octane grade at the end of Q2:   Bankrupt Venezuela is most affordable at 1% of a day’s income (based on GDP/capita)  […]

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Wrong assumptions on China growth and oil prices mean danger lies ahead for refiners and polymer producers

It could be a very difficult H2 for anyone involved in the Asian oil and polymer markets.  And given the global importance of these markets, everyone around the world will also feel the impact.  The issue is that most business strategies have been based on 2 increasingly unlikely assumptions:   Companies all assumed that oil […]

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Oil heads back to $30/bbl and probably lower

There was never any fundamental reason why oil prices should have doubled between January and June this year. There were no physical shortages of product, or long-term outages at key producers. But of course, there was never any fundamental reason for prices to treble between 2009 – 2011 in the Stimulus rally, or to jump […]

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Force majeures at all-time highs even before downturn begins

There is no such thing as an accident.  The chemical industry, like others, has known this for over 30 years, since the adoption of Quality Management techniques.  Yet it seems that over the past 18 months either this important fact has been forgotten or, more likely, I fear, has simply been ignored. The evidence for […]

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EIA Jul16

Auto sales and the oil price: the Great Unwinding continues

Serious questions need to be asked about the likely level of future demand growth for oil and auto sales in Emerging Markets (EMs), as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog  Oil market volatility has reached near-record levels in H1 this year, as the first chart shows. […]

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ACS webinar on Brexit and the challenges of over-supply

Chemistry and the Economy: 2016 Mid-year review The UK’s decision to leave the European Union (Brexit) is causing major upheaval in financial markets as investors rush to supposedly “safe havens”. This is highlighting the underlying slowdown in demand growth caused by globally ageing populations. What does this mean for the chemical and pharma industry? Can […]

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VUCAa

A VUCA world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity

“A week is a long time in politics” was the insight of former UK premier Harold Wilson.  It is tempting to think that the events of the past week – a terrorist massacre in France: an attempted army coup in Turkey: a fatal US sniper attack: the overnight emergence of a new government with new […]

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Crunch time for pensions as $13tn of global bonds now have negative interest rates

Around a quarter of global bonds now have negative interest rates.  This means that you get less money back at maturity than you originally invested.  And the number of bonds impacted is rising exponentially, as Bank of America Merrill Lynch reports: $13tn of global debt has negative yields, compared to $11tn before the Brexit vote, […]

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