Today is Labor Day holiday in the USA. But sadly, the latest news on jobs remains deeply worrying. As the chart from the New York Times shows, jobs are still being lost (blue line), long after recovery had begun in downturns from 1974 – 2000. And far more jobs have already been lost. Total jobs […]
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One of the blog’s major themes is that it fears the idea of a quick V-shaped recovery will prove wishful thinking. New figures from the Bank of England seem to bear out its caution. The slightly complex chart shows that net UK lending for mortgages (yellow line, then red diamond) has been falling steadily since […]
A key rule for any successful trader is that high volume is always bullish, and low volume is negative. The blog first learnt this when trading oil products in Houston, on secondment from the UK in the 1980′s. And it has proved an invaluable guide ever since, in a wide range of markets. The rationale […]
Further evidence of the trend towards a more frugal consumer comes from L’Oreal, the world’s largest cosmetics company. Like Procter & Gamble, it was slow to react to the trends identified by the major retail chains some 2 years ago. As a result, its profits fell 14% in H1, after decades of 10% annual increases. […]
Many readers have been out of the office during August on a well-deserved break. As usual, the blog is therefore highlighting below the main postings over the past month, in the hope this will help you to catch up quickly on key developments – please click on the highlighted title if you want to read […]
There are clear signs in the above chart that the inventory cycle has turned positive again, as customers restock. Globally, data from the American Chemistry Council shows chemical production now down 10.5% versus last year, after being 13.4% down in March, in line with signs that GDP in the west is now stabilising. But will […]
The blog was asked to write an analysis for ICIS Insight on the growing concerns about the outlook for China’s economy, and their potential impact on the global chemicals inustry. Please click here if you would like to download a pdf copy.
The US housing crisis is still getting worse, causing the weekend collapse of Guaranty Bank, the 11th largest US bank failure. As the Wall Street Journal notes, this marks a “new stage” in the banking crisis. Guaranty Financial had bought low quality, “toxic” mortgage loans, and its woes illustrate the “boomerang effect” that is now […]
The blog is very interested to see the different outlooks being proposed by central bank heads. US Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke claimed Friday that the financial crisis was due to “panic”, rather than fundamental problems such as reckless lending. As a result, with the “panic” over, he now saw the potential for securing “a sustained […]
Many western governments have not seen manufacturing as a major priority in recent years. Instead, they have favoured moves to boost services, particularly the financial sector. US manufacturing employment, for example, has fallen from 19.6m in 1979 to just 11.8m today – the lowest level since 1941. Over the same period, China has taken the […]
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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.