34m Americans will be driving at least 50 miles this Memorial Day weekend, which marks the start of the summer ”driving season”. But contrary to popular belief, the average American is driving less these days. The total number of miles driven is still increasing due to the rising US population. But on an individual basis, people are driving 6% less […]
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Motorbikes continue to dominate India’s motor vehicle market, as the chart above shows based on new data from the industry association (India’s year runs from April – March): 16.5m 2-wheelers were sold in the year, up 2% versus 2014-15, and took 2/3rds of the market 2.8m passenger cars were also sold, with volume up 7%, and had a 12% […]
China’s long-promised cotton auctions have begun this week. Their outcome will tell us a lot about President Xi Jinping’s ability to force through his New Normal changes in the economy. It will also, of course, have major impact upon the polyester value chain, given the competition between the 2 fibres. As the slide from the […]
US home ownership is back at levels seen briefly in the mid-1980s, and before that in the mid-1960s. One key issue today is that while the US population is still growing, the younger population has quite a different profile from the Boomer generation, as the Pew Institute have reported. In 1980, only 1 in 10 young Boomers were […]
There was no great surprise in the news that global smartphone sales fell for the first time ever in Q1. As I suggested in February, when reviewing Q4 data: “It seems almost inevitable that global growth will now follow China and go negative”. As the chart shows, Strategy Analytics data suggests that sales fell 3% in […]
New data from the International Monetary Fund confirms that last year’s collapse in global GDP was even worse than first reported. As the chart shows,the fall when measured in current dollars was a record $4.7tn, versus $3.3tn in 2009. And GDP was down 6% in percentage terms versus 5.3% in 2009: Even more worrying is […]
Companies and investors need to refocus on demand as the key driver for future revenue and profit growth. Supply-driven business models are no longer sufficient. ‘How do we do this?” is the critical question, as I discuss in this short video interview with ICIS deputy news editor, Tom Brown: The key is to focus on […]
Clouds are gathering over the auto industry, as the impact of the post-2008 stimulus programmes fades into history. It is hard to believe that back in 2013, only 3 years ago, analysts were confidently predicting that Russia would have become the world’s 5th largest market by 2020. And they were similarly forecasting great things for Brazil, which […]
The warnings keep coming about the underlying health of the US auto market. But, as with the subprime housing crisis, nobody wants to listen: Last October, the US Comptroller of the Currency warned that some activity “in auto loans reminds me of what happened in mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the crisis“ Yet auto […]
3 years of massive stimulus spending in Japan has had no impact on the problem it was supposed to solve. This is highlighted by new government data on household spending for 2015, as the charts above confirm – they compare 2015 data with that for 2012, before Abenomics began: Spending was almost exactly the same […]
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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.