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

Global stock markets weaken as Great Unwinding of stimulus continues

It is 7 years since global stock markets bottomed after the 2008 financial crash.  But as my regular 6-monthly update on their performance shows, it has been a very mixed picture since then.  The chart shows how prices have moved since their pre-2008 peak in the world’s 8 major markets, and in the US 30-year […]

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$1.8tn of stimulus later, Japan’s household spending unchanged

3 years of massive stimulus spending in Japan has had no impact on the problem it was supposed to solve.  This is highlighted by new government data on household spending for 2015, as the charts above confirm – they compare 2015 data with that for 2012, before Abenomics began: Spending was almost exactly the same […]

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Propylene price collapse highlights New Normal world

Everyone wants to assume that markets will soon be back to “normal”.  Consensus thinking now accepts that China will be a bit slower than before – but it argues that 6.5% GDP growth is still pretty good, even if it isn’t double digit.  And it suggests that persistence, and “staying the course” is vital for […]

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Demand – the New Direction for Profit

What happens to your business, or your investments, if demand fails to return to the supply-driven Comfortable Middle Scenario forecast by consensus thinking?  This is the question raised in our new Study, Demand – the New Direction for Profit (jointly produced by International eChem and ICIS).  We suggest that access to a low-cost position on […]

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China’s PTA market moves to self-sufficiency and exports

Credit conditions are tightening day by day in China.  Companies with good payment records over many years are seeing their borrowing limits cut back.  2016 is indeed proving to be the year that President Xi Jinping “takes the pain of restructuring”. At the same time, self-sufficiency has become a key strategy for many industries, in […]

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Chemical companies see difficult times ahead in 2016

The chemical industry remains the best leading indicator for the global economy.  That much is clear from the warnings it has delivered over the past year: Q3 results in November highlighted the need for “new strategies and business models“ Q2 results in July suggested “continued uncertainty over outlook“ Q1 2015 results in May revealed “increased […]

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“Debt-financed growth model has reached its limits”, admits German finance minister

Central bank policy-making is becoming more and more dysfunctional, as German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble‘s comments highlighted on Friday: “The debt financed growth model has reached its limits.  It is even causing new problems, raising debt, causing bubbles and excessive risk taking, zombifying the economy….and may have laid the foundation for the next crisis.” One clear sign […]

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Brexit poll creates UK, euro interest rate rise risk

Financial markets are very bad at evaluating political risk.  They assume people will always be rational, and expect a ‘business as usual’ scenario to continue.  But as we all know, people are not always rational.  And emotion, as today over immigration may cloud their judgement. This week has seen the first signs of this complacency […]

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China power demand surge ends as Old Normal economy slows

The decline in China’s electricity consumption growth highlights the remarkable slowdown underway in its Old Normal economy, as the chart shows: Consumption growth took off in 2009 under the influence of the stimulus programme It rose 6.5% in 2009, and then accelerated further in 2010 when it was up 14.7% 2011 growth stayed at double-digit […]

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Oil prices remain at pre-2005 levels as inventories rise

Its mid-winter in Russia, and the snow is deep in some parts of Moscow.  Meanwhile in Venezuela the economy is close to meltdown, and its hard to find even essentials in Caracas.  So it is no real surprise that this month saw their Oil Ministers head for “important discussions” in the warmer climate of the […]

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