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

China’s waning stimulus spells trouble for the world’s biggest car market

The blog’s latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog is below. By Paul Hodges of International eChem China’s July lending level of just Rmb 385bn ($62.6bn) has surprised financial markets, which were expecting an increase in stimulus. But bigger surprises may lie ahead. The strong link between lending and passenger car sales […]

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European chloralkali output hit as growth slows, Ukraine volumes drop

Chlorine and caustic soda are the bedrock of modern industry.  They are used in everything from laundry products to pharmaceuticals.  So changes in their business performance are a most valuable guide to what is happening in the real world in which we all live. The chart shows the detail of developments in the European industry, […]

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China PE Aug14

Eliminating the impossible in China’s polyethylene market

Very large amounts of copper, iron and other commodities are in long-term storage in China as part of the ‘collateral trade’.  More recently, it seems large amounts of polyethylene (PE), ethylene glycol (MEG) and probably other chemicals have also started to be used for the trade. None of this used to matter when the Chinese economy was booming.  Why […]

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China’s housing market enters New Normal as prices slide

Markets appear to be continuing to move, slowly but surely, into their expected ‘scary phase’.  The reason is the massive distortions that have been created in financial markets, and in China’s housing market, by the $35tn+ of stimulus from governments and central banks since 2009. Unwinding these distortions will not be simple.  The stimulus has not returned us […]

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Markets slip as fears grow Fed’s cheap money may end soon

Western financial markets are getting nervous that the US Federal Reserve will cut off their supply of cheap money.  They went through the same panic in 2011.  Now they again have to wait to see what happens. The chart of the new IeC Boom/Gloom Index above highlights the parallels: Markets were strong through April 2011, with the […]

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China’s low-cost smartphones start to dominate global market

China’s exports are growing again.  But not because SuperCycle levels of demand have returned in the West. Instead, its companies are using their low-cost manufacturing model to take on and beat Asian and Western giants.  Developments in the global smartphone market highlight the rapidity of the change underway They confirm China’s economy is moving in exactly the […]

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GM focuses on low-cost autos, as European sales remain weak

Low growth and low-cost have become the dominant features of Europe’s auto market. Europe’s modest rise in auto sales continued in June, with volumes up 4.5% versus 2013.  But as the auto association reminds us, this “is the second lowest level in the month of June since reporting began in 2003“.  And the detail of the […]

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China condom sales droop 1 million/day on anti-graft campaign

Condom sales have dropped by 1 million/day in China according to The Economist magazine.  It highlights how: Across China, luxury retailers and fancy restaurants are suffering from an edict against wasteful government spending. A chill has crept into karaoke parlours and brothels; mistresses also face a hard time. The reason is the new leadership’s anti-corruption […]

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Slide in Q2 operating rates is bad omen for H2 economic outlook

The chemical industry is the best leading indicator for the global economy.  The slide in operating rates (OR%) around the world during the seasonally strong Q2 period. is a clear warning that global economic growth may be stalling. This should be a major wake-up call for anyone still hoping that growth may recover to the Boomer-led SuperCycle level.  The latest update from […]

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40% of US GDP growth since 2012 due to inventory build

Wild swings in key data make for great Twitter feeds.  But they don’t help the rest of us to understand what is really happening.  This week’s report on US GDP for Q2 is a good example: Q2 saw GDP up 4%, after Q1′s 2.1% decline and Q4′s 3.5% gain (blue column) But as the chart shows, the […]

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