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

Boom/Gloom Index tumbles as S&P 500 hits record

The stock market used to be a good leading indicator for the economy.  But that was before the central banks decided to manipulate it for their own purposes.  As then US Federal Reserve Chairman boasted 3 years ago on launching their second round of money-printing: “Policies have contributed to a stronger stock market just as […]

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August highlights

Many readers have been taking a well-earned break over the past few weeks.   As usual, therefore, the blog is highlighting key posts during August, to help you catch up as you return to the office. Economic outlook:  Great Unwinding of stimulus underway.  Q2 results show slowing growth.  US retail sales decline in line with incomes, […]

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US dollar rises as investors worry low-cost money may disappear

Nobody knows how the Great Unwinding of central bank stimulus policies will develop.  The world has simply never been in this position before.  Thus the senior economics and business correspondent of the Financial Times, John Plender, began an article this week: “In a market where asset prices are comprehensively rigged by central bankers, rational investment […]

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“Serious economic cooling-off” makes China’s GDP likely to go negative, again

We all know that China’s published GDP figures are meaningless.  China’s premier, Li Keqiang, has told us so.  And common sense tells us that no country, large or small, can possibly produce accurate GDP data within 2 weeks of the end of a quarter.  Nor is it possible to believe that this data never needs to […]

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US, Japan consumer spend falls, deflation threatens Eurozone

We are now two-thirds of the way through 2014, and critical decisions are looming for companies and investors.  Do they give central banks one more chance to stimulate growth?  And are they prepared to trust policymakers to avoid a major geopolitical crisis in the Ukraine? Or do they decide that ‘enough is enough’, and that […]

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Auto sales on roller-coaster ride in Japan, Russia, Brazil, India

Car sales in Japan, Russia, Brazil and India currently account for just under 1 in 5 of global sales.  Their market share peaked at 21% in 2008, but is today back at 2005′s level of 17%.  As the chart shows, it has been a roller-coaster ride for all of them: Japan’s 4.7m sales were 10% of the global total […]

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Unilever says Q2 market growth slows in emerging countries, developed countries weak

The global economy really isn’t getting any better.  That’s the key conclusion from the blog’s quarterly survey of company results for Q2. Of course, some companies are doing well – either because of shale gas economics, or their own market positioning.  But consumer giant Unilever summarised the general picture very well: “Market growth continued to slow in emerging […]

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Oil prices break out of their triangle – downwards

The Great Unwinding of the central banks stimulus policies is underway, as discussed last week.  Oil markets have been one of the first to feel the change, as the chart shows, with prices finally falling out of the ‘triangle’ shape built up since 2008.  The value of the US$, interest rates and the S&P 500 […]

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A personal WW1 centenary – the Battle of Le Cateau

100 years ago today, the blog’s grandfather went into action for the first time in World War 1, at the Battle of Le Cateau.  A regular soldier, his Battalion had landed in France on 22 August 1914, and had then marched for 3 days from the Channel ports as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) .  […]

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US retail sales hit by declines in income and household wealth

US retail sales tell a sorry story about the state of underlying demand.  US sales at Wal-Mart, the world’s largest store chain, have failed to grow for 6 consecutive quarters, with shopper traffic falling 1.1% in Q2.  The company’s explanation for the problems is worth pondering by anyone in business: It is facing intense competition […]

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