2010 should be a better year for the chemical industry, as demand grows in line with a recovery in global GDP. But a quick V-shaped return to the 2003-7 Boom years in terms of volumes/margins seems unlikely. Governments will worry about budget deficits, and may well scale down support for critical end-uses such as autos […]
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Our major Feedstocks for Profit Study last year foresaw difficult times ahead for European refiners. Now it seems this forecast by our partners, refining experts Wood Mackenzie, is coming true. Total, Europe’s largest refiner, today reported that European refining margins fell 85% in Q3, to just $6.60/bbl, the lowest level for 7 years. And they […]
The blog has argued for some time that the chemical industry is facing a “new normal” as growth returns to the economy. Now US Federal Reserve Governor Dan Tarullo has helpfully spelt out some important changes that he expects to occur. He notes that: • “Just about everyone understands we will never return to the […]
The blog is now preparing its annual Budget Outlook for 2010. Before this is published next weekend, it makes sense to assess the blog’s credibility by looking back at last year’s Outlook, to see how well it performed. Past performance may not be a perfect guide to future outcomes. But it is one of the […]
My first European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) meeting was in 1985. Since then, I have found that it provides an unique opportunity to look back over the current year, and focus on what might happen next. Thus in October 2007, just after I began writing the blog, my discussions led me to warn that we were […]
China’s perceived demand has been the major driving force behind the rallies in financial and commodities markets this year. It has also attracted large volumes of polymer imports. But this wishful thinking ignores the fundamental issue that China’s economy is relatively small (just $4trn in a world economy of $60trn) and is 104th in terms […]
The blog believes that the landscape has changed during the current downturn. We came into it on the back of a major boom in consumption, supported by reckless lending and borrowing. This mind-set seems unlikely to return quickly. Instead, as the period of destocking/restocking comes to an end, we may face a “new reality”. This […]
Last November, the blog suggested “4 tips for survival“, based on a Financial Times series on recession survival strategy. A new article this week on ‘Leadership beyond a Downturn’ provides some key tips on how to manage next steps: • Prepare for continuing downturn, but also for some growth to return. • Look outside to […]
Our 8th European Aromatics & Derivatives conference, co-organised with ICIS, has a number of distinguished industry speakers including: • BASF, Jaroslaw Michniuk, Group VP, Styrenics Europe • Reliance, Rajen Udeshi, President Polyester Chain • Shell Chemicals, Jonathan Forbes-Lane, GM, Aromatics Europe In addition, the blog will be presenting its thoughts on “5 Key Steps to […]
ExxonMobil Chemicals was 6th in the ICIS list of Top 100 companies in 2002, during the last downturn. By last year, it had risen to 2nd place, according to the latest ICIS list. One of the secrets of its success was set out in an interesting Bloomberg interview yesterday with Basic Chemicals SVP, TJ Wojnar. […]
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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 as 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.