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 auto market to focus on low-cost, not luxury

The key to forecasting China’s auto demand since 2008 has been the level of bank lending, as the chart above shows.  This was critical in making China the world’s largest auto market.  Official data shows average disposable income was just Rmb 10k ($1600) in H1 2014, making it impossible for most people to buy a car out of income: […]

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Europe unprepared for hard winter without Ukraine gas

There is an alarming naivety about Western policymakers’ response to events in the Ukraine.  They have simply chosen not to recognise that Russia’s strategic objectives are no longer about building links with Europe, but are instead about creating a Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Thus they assume that Russia will always put its economic interests ahead of its political objectives.  And […]

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Cotton prices suffer worst crash in 55 years

Just as forecast in March, world cotton prices have crashed. Prices peaked at 97.35c/lb on 24 March, just 3 days after the post was published.  Since then, they have fallen by a third to 65c/lb.  They have now fallen for 11 straight weeks – the longest slump in 55 years, according to Bloomberg. There is no need to repeat […]

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Dow right

Dow’s CEO says “pre-2008 economy was a bubble”

Now its official.  Andrew Liveris, Dow CEO, told CNBC last week that the “pre-2008 economy was a bubble“.  And exactly mirroring the analysis of Boom, Gloom and the New Normal, he went on to add that “for a couple of years after 2008, we had a head-fake that the growth might have returned, but it […]

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India’s $10bn polymer opportunity in toilet provision

There is never a shortage of growth opportunities.  But too often companies choose not to access them.  Hopefully that won’t happen with the opportunity to supply millions of tonnes of polymer to meet India’s desperate need for toilets. As the blog wrote recently, 600 million Indians currently defecate in fields – as shown above in the photo – […]

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US auto sales set to decline as today’s credit bubble ends

Its really not difficult to forecast US auto sales and housing starts if you take a longer term view.  Of course, this wouldn’t suit the traders, who love the “surprise” of a monthly number being higher or lower than the previous month.  But why does everyone else put up with this nonsense? The chart above demonstrates the […]

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Global auto markets depend on China for growth

Global auto markets have started to move in new directions.  That much is clear from comment by the major national auto associations.  This will be a shock to manufacturers, who have over-expanded production.  Price wars and capacity cutbacks are inevitable if the industry forecasts are correct. The chart  starts from 2005, and shows the 7 major […]

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Polyethylene, shadow banking and China’s ‘collateral trade’

The blog’s latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog is below. By Paul Hodges of International eChem Strange things are happening in China’s polyethylene (PE) market. Despite a slowdown in the economy, demand is surging. Our research suggests that PE, like copper and iron before it, is the latest instrument of China’s […]

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$20tn US, China stimulus and lending – but recovery elusive

Despite all the positive headlines, the world’s two largest economies have failed to deliver sustained recovery, even though the 2 governments have now spent a combined $20tn in stimulus and lending. US STIMULUS REACHES $10tn The US government and Federal Reserve have spent $10tn since the Great Recession began in 2008.  Federal deficits have increased by $6.27tn, whilst […]

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Deflation Dec13

An oil price fall would tip the world into deflation

The blog found it hard to believe, when it started to research for Boom, Gloom and the New Normal, how little information existed on basic facts such as population size and annual births.  Some countries such as the UK and Japan have data going back a century.  But they are the exceptions: US annual data […]

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