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 […]
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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. […]
The blog’s audience has continued to set new records in 2013. It is now well on the way to its 200,000th visit, and is read in 159 countries and 6110 cities as shown in the chart above. Readers also remain incredibly loyal, with around one in two readers visiting every week, and one in four readers visiting every day. […]
Will the US be able to sell all its planned new petchem volumes? That is the 3rd topic in the blog’s series about critical areas where we all think we know what’s happening, but may end up being surprised. We all know that the US now has a major feedstock advantage versus Europe, Asia and Latin America due […]
The Financial Times has carried an excellent analysis this week of the key shale gas issues facing the European chemical industry. It includes comments from a number of CEOs, as well as from the blog. Its key points are as follows: THE STRATEGIC DILEMMA “European petrochemical makers risk being squeezed between low-cost producers in the Middle East […]
Will 2014 finally be the year of economic recovery? There are signs of a stronger economy in the US and Europe. Pharma is shifting and downsizing as it works. How will all of this affect you in 2014? The blog will discuss these and other key issues with American Chemical Society chairman Bill Carroll, in its regular Chemistry […]
2013 has seen 3 types of markets develop for the blog’s IeC Downturn Monitor portfolio as the chart above shows: Financial assets such as the S&P 500 (purple) have soared, as did the US$ against the yen (orange) Crude oil (blue) and naphtha (black) tried to follow, but found it difficult to pass though the higher prices Benzene (green) and […]
Chlorine and caustic soda are some of the most widely used chemicals. Thus their performance is always a valuable leading indicator for the wider chemical industry and the economy itself. So the chart above, based on Eurochlor data, is a worrying sign: Chlorine production is down by 1.9% in 2013, after a 2.9% fall in 2012 Caustic […]
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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.