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

12 million missing workers highlight US GDP slowdown

Employment income is critical for most Americans and for the US economy.  The above chart shows how the key factor - the participation rate - has changed since records began in 1948.  It shows July data, to avoid the need for seasonal adjustment, split by Men, Women and Total: □  Last month’s Total rate was 63.4%, versus the […]

Continue Reading
Smartphones Aug16

Smartphone sales go ex-growth as lifecycle turns down

Its been a great run for the smartphone industry, but the party is now coming to an end.  As the chart shows, global sales in H1 fell 1% versus 2016, based on Strategy Analytics data:   Samsung and Apple have both seen a major decline in their market share since 2014   Samsung have fallen […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading
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 […]

Continue Reading

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)  […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading
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. […]

Continue Reading

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 […]

Continue Reading