Chlorine and caustic soda are the bedrock of modern industry. They are used in everything from laundry products to pharmaceuticals. So changes in their business performance are a most valuable guide to what is happening in the real world in which we all live. The chart shows the detail of developments in the European industry, […]
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The chemical industry is the best leading indicator for the global economy. The slide in operating rates (OR%) around the world during the seasonally strong Q2 period. is a clear warning that global economic growth may be stalling. This should be a major wake-up call for anyone still hoping that growth may recover to the Boomer-led SuperCycle level. The latest update from […]
An ageing population and record annual levels of oil prices create massive headwinds for Europe’s petrochemical producers. One means demand growth is much reduced from the SuperCycle. The other means these lower volumes cost more to produce. What a pity, you might say, that the industry is not part of the financial sector. Then it […]
Nothing has really changed over the past year. That seems to be the key conclusion from the blog’s quarterly summary of company results for Q1. A year ago, BASF noted that “achieving our earnings target is significantly more challenging today than we had expected”. This month, chairman Kurt Bock “warned the markets will remain volatile and […]
Companies are about to review their Q1 performance, and re-forecast profit and revenue for the rest of the year. Most will be disappointed with results so far, as the long-promised economic recovery has again failed to appear. This will be no surprise to blog readers. But there is another and connected issue for Management Teams to worry […]
China’s growth has been the main support for the global economy since the Crisis began in Q4 2008. The slide above captures the extent of this in polyethylene (PE), one of the world’s largest chemical markets, based on data from China’s chemical association and Global Trade Information Services: The total market grew 11% in the 3 […]
We all live in hope. That seems to be the underlying message from the blog’s quarterly survey of company results. Nothing has changed since last quarter or indeed Q2, when BASF noted that “achieving our earnings target is significantly more challenging today than we had expected”. Yet this latest quarter was, of course, supposed to be […]
2013 wasn’t a good year for plant reliability. The blog’s 6-monthly survey of force majeure reports in ICIS news shows: There were 386 reports of force majeures in 2013 This was very similar to the 391 level seen in 2010 It also reverses the decline seen in 2012 after the record 495 reports in 2011 This is a worrying […]
Trade data for net US PVC exports seems to be trying to tell us something very important about the current state of the global economy. As the chart shows, based on data from Global Trade Information Services: Net exports failed to grow in 2013 (red column) versus 2012 (black) and were only up 2% versus 2011 […]
A prominent “activist” fund in New York has told Dow Chemical to spin off its performance plastics, performance materials and feedstocks-and-energy units. The news led the blog to imagine a fictional scene in the offices of Activists-R-Us fund last Tuesday morning, as the news came through. Any resemblance to actual events is purely coincidental, as they say in movies. […]
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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.