About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. Paul is also an invited member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council. 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 PPI Mar15

China exports deflation to the West

Unfortunately, the European Central Bank (ECB) does not read the blog, or yet subscribe to ‘The pH Report’.  If it did, it would have been forewarned back in August that a collapse in oil prices was potentially about to provide the catalyst for the arrival of deflation. Instead, as the Minutes of its critical January […]

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Japan’s government debt now $100k per person

Debt, debt, glorious debt,      Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood.      So follow me, follow, down to the hollow                                                             And there let us wallow in glorious debt  (apologies to Flanders & Swann) It seems impossible today, but until the year 2000 most Western countries were reducing their debt burdens.  Thus President Bill Clinton boasted […]

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What a difference a QE programme makes

 ”What a difference a day makes Twenty-four little hours Brought the sun and the flowers                                            Where there used to be rain” (lyrics, Renee Olstead) What would financial markets do without Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank (ECB)?  A month ago, they were worrying about deflation arriving in the Eurozone and the […]

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Rising life expectancy enabled Industrial Revolution to occur

Living standards have risen 20-fold over the past 200 years.  Yet they rose just 3-fold over the previous 800 years.  What enabled this dramatic change to take place? The key event was clearly the Industrial Revolution.  As Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England, notes in a thought-provoking new paper: “In explaining rising living standards since […]

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Saudi lets ‘market decide’ on oil prices to maximise local jobs

I was kindly invited last week to give a keynote address at the annual ME-TECH conference in Dubai.  Naturally, there was intense interest in my argument that oil prices were most unlikely to recover to the $100/bbl level. Instead, I suggested they would likely return to their long-term historical average of $33/bbl (in $2014).  And I argued that this would be good news […]

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US housing markets weaken as home ownership levels fade

Data over the past month continues to confirm my fears that the US housing recovery is going into reverse.  The argument was summed up yesterday by S&P’s chairman, when reporting Case/Shiller housing price data for December: “The housing recovery is faltering. While prices and sales of existing homes are close to normal, construction and new home […]

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10 day Superbowl oil rally ends with storage tanks close to full

The 10-day wonder of the SuperBowl oil rally has ended.  Instead, we are returning to the world of the Great Unwinding, and prices are coming under pressure once more from the energy supply glut and weak demand. But it would be wrong not to mark the coup that took Brent prices up 26% from $50/bbl to $63/bbl […]

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Deflation takes hold in Europe as policymakers remain in Denial

One by one, the Western economies are falling into deflation.  The Eurozone began the process, with deflation of -0.2% in December followed by -0.6% in January, as the chart shows (blue line). Similarly Germany, Europe’s largest economy, moved into deflation in January, just 2 weeks after the deputy finance minister, Steffen Kampeter, told CNBC there was […]

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Global shipping index hits all-time low

The world’s major shipping index, the Baltic Dry (BDI), has collapsed by 2/3rds since November, and by 80% since its earlier December 2013 peak, as the chart shows.  It is now at an all-time low of 509, almost half of its initial 1000 level when established in January 1985. Shipping is the major mode of transport for world trade, […]

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BRIJ auto sales head in different directions

There has been a lot of wishful thinking over the past 15 years about the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).  The experts told us they were all going to become middle class overnight, and ensure that global growth continued to motor, even as the West slowed. Reality has proved rather different, of course.  This makes […]

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