Data over the past month continues to confirm my fears that the US housing recovery is going into reverse. The argument was summed up yesterday by S&P’s chairman, when reporting Case/Shiller housing price data for December: “The housing recovery is faltering. While prices and sales of existing homes are close to normal, construction and new home […]
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There has been a lot of wishful thinking over the past 15 years about the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). The experts told us they were all going to become middle class overnight, and ensure that global growth continued to motor, even as the West slowed. Reality has proved rather different, of course. This makes […]
Debt can’t make a country middle-class overnight. Even a massive amount of debt can’t achieve this. Even the largest amount of debt in history can’t do this. China’s experience since 2007, when it increased debt four-fold, proves this. As McKinsey have reported, China increased its debt from $7tn in 2007 to $28tn by the middle of […]
‘Nothing succeeds like excess’. That seems to be the motto of London property developers at the moment. According to researchers LonRes, developers are currently building or planning the staggering total of 54000 new luxury homes in central London. These will all be offered at prices of £1m ($1.5m) and higher, according to the Financial Times. Yet just 3900 […]
Its amazing what a lending bubble can do in the short-term, as the above chart shows. It updates my August post for the Financial Times, and highlights the astonishing rise in China’s bank lending since 2008 on the x-axis, and the remarkable rise in auto sales on the y-axis. Official data shows average disposable income last […]
The best view is always from the top of the mountain. That’s probably why the outlook seems so promising for US auto and housing markets. Both appear to be doing well on the surface, but dig a little deeper and concerns soon emerge. The chart above demonstrates the point, updating the data from my July post […]
Cotton prices appear to be collapsing again due to the surpluses created by central bank stimulus policies since 2009. As the chart shows, these had initially caused prices to soar to levels not seen since the American Civil War: They reached 230c/lb in March 2011, nearly double the post-1982 peak of 117c/lb in May 1995 (blue […]
In 2013, there were fewer births in the G7 countries – responsible for nearly 50% of the global economy – than in any year since the Great Depression year of 1933.* As the chart also shows, 1933 was an exception. Births bounced back immediately afterwards. But the low figure in 2013 is part of the declining trend seen since […]
‘How China fooled the world’ was the subject of an excellent BBC documentary early in 2014 by senior editor, Robert Peston. The BBC headline was as follows: “Now, Peston reveals what has actually happened inside China since the economic collapse in the west in 2008. It is a story of spending and investment on a scale never […]
The Financial Times has kindly printed my letter, commenting on their editorial about Premier Modi’s economic policies in India. Sir, Your editorial “India’s Modi should act more decisively in 2015” (December 24) has too limited a view of the policies required to generate growth in India’s economy. With gross domestic product per capita of about […]
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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.