California’s Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has now made a provisional agreement to reduce the State’s soaring budget deficit. Its main features are a $9bn temporary cut in the education budget, plus multi-$bn cuts in welfare and health programmes. The only good news is that it clears the way for oil drilling to resume off the Santa […]
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The blog is rather pleased with the performance of its new Boom/Gloom Index©, as financial markets continue to respond positively to any suggestion of “good news”. The Index is based on Ben Graham’s famous concept that markets are: • A voting machine in the short-term but • A weighing machine in the long-term It is […]
As expected, Ineos have today confirmed that their proposed new covenants have now been accepted by their lenders. For those unfamiliar with the mechanisms used in the world of high-yield debt, this does not involve any new money, or a refinancing. Instead, it means that the lenders have agreed to provide Ineos with more head-room […]
In 2007, Sweden was the largest private equity market in Europe, as a percentage of the country’s GDP. And the local banks lent freely, as elsewhere, to fund investments. Now they, and other Nordic banks, are struggling to minimise their losses. According to Bloomberg, Sweden’s second-biggest bank, Handelsbanken, “seized parts of Plastal Group and Plastal […]
Any improvement in the troubled auto sector is extremely good news for the chemical industry, after the battering of the past few months. Thus the blog welcomes news, as the chart shows, that European sales increased 2.4% in June, the first rise for over a year. Government support for scrapping older cars has led the […]
If you want a loan, go to China. That’s the message from the chart, courtesy of Credit Suisse, which shows the staggering growth in bank lending since the start of the year. Now, even the People’s Bank of China is starting to get concerned. Lending so far this year has reached $1trn, equal to a […]
Sometimes, the blog gets lucky with its timing. A week ago, it wrote bearishly on crude oil markets, and suggested that “chemical companies need to keep a close eye on changing sentiment in financial markets”. By Friday, oil prices had tumbled 11%, as the US S&P 500 index continued to weaken from its 12 June […]
After yesterday’s post, Edwin Pang of Credit Suisse in Hong Kong has raised an interesting question over the likely rationale for China’s massive increase in petchem imports, such as polyethylene (PE), in 2009. As the chart shows, its monthly PE demand (production plus net imports), was very steady in 2007-8. It averaged 980kt in 2007, […]
The chemical industry has benefited from a benign paradigm over the past 25 years: • Demographics in the west have encouraged consumption, as the baby-boom generation reached middle age • Globalisation meant this could be achieved at lower cost, by outsourcing production to lower-wage countries in the east • Workers in the east saved their […]
The good news from the latest reports on US house prices and auto sales was simple – things have stopped getting worse. US house prices saw “some stabilisation in some regions” according to the S&P/Case Shiller Index for April. Whilst auto sales are clearly bouncing along the bottom, down “only” 29% in June versus May’s […]
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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.