China used to be the manufacturing capital of the world. It would buy raw materials, and sell finished products to the West. But these volumes are now in decline. The West’s ageing populations already own most of what they need, and their incomes are reducing as they enter retirement. So China’s business model is changing. […]
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4 years ago, Brazil’s polyethylene market flagged up the first warning signs that its GDP was hitting headwinds, as China’s stimulus programme begin to slow. Today, sadly, the economy is in major recesssion, with the impeachment process against President Rousseff adding further pressure: World Bank data shows GDP fell 3.7% last year: it forecasts “only” […]
“The reality is the US from a chemical standpoint is a very mature market. We have some demand growth domestically in the US but it’s a % or two – it’s not strong demand growth,” Pryor said, adding that polyethylene hardly grew in the US in a decade. “That is not going to change. “The […]
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 […]
All accidents are preventable. This simple fact, which used to be top-of-mind for every chemical industry manager, seems to have been increasingly either forgotten or ignored in recent years. The evidence is in the chart above: showing industry force majeures since 2008 (as reported on ICIS news): They were at a record level in 2015, […]
Capacity Utilisation (CU%) is the best measure we have for the current state of the global chemical industry. It doubles as an excellent proxy for the outlook for the global economy. And as the above chart based on latest American Chemistry Council data shows, recovery still seems a long way off: Global CU% was down […]
2015 was the year when companies and markets began to feel the impact of the Great Unwinding of stimulus policies. The blog’s readership has increased significantly as a result, as people began to abandon the consensus wisdom which had so clearly failed – once again – to provide a reliable guide to the outlook. The […]
The unseen costs of the proposed Dow-DuPont merger are certain to be much larger than those we can currently describe. Both companies will effectively be more reactive to external developments, rather than pro-active, due to the internal focus that will be required to develop and implement the merger and divestment processes. This cost could well […]
All the evidence suggests that most mergers fail to deliver the promised value. So those who propose them, especially when they involve such critical companies for the US and global economy as Dow Chemical and DuPont, must expect some hard questions to be asked. Here are my 5 top questions in logical order – Why?, […]
Major change is underway in manufacturing and supply chains. China’s slowdown has exposed the myth that its demand would support ever-increasing production of commodities such as metals and oil. As the Financial Times reported yesterday: “Back in the summer, Glencore’s combative chief executive Ivan Glasenberg led a chorus of mining executives in blaming speculative funds for driving […]
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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.