We are living in a world of ageing populations for the first time in history. For many, this conjures up a picture of vast numbers of old people leaning on walking sticks with one hand, and swallowing mouthfuls of pills with the other. But reality is a long way from this stereotype. LIFE EXPECTANCY HAS SUDDENLY INCREASED IN […]
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Americans are driving less each year. For the first time since records began in 1970, average vehicle miles per person has been declining for over a decade. The trend is now so well established, it is highly unlikely that the current collapse of oil prices back to normal levels will change the overall picture. This has enormous implications […]
One of the great myths of our time is that the world’s population is inevitably growing. Almost everyone has heard that the population is certain to reach 9bn by 2050, from today’s 7.3bn. Yet births in 2013 in the G7 economies (almost half of the global economy) were at the lowest level since the Great Depression year […]
Consumers clearly love smartphones. The global market is growing fast with 380m sold in Q4, up 31% versus 2013. But manufacturers might be forgiven for not being so sure. As the chart above shows, major change is underway in the market. The concept of ‘affordable luxury’ is disappearing as the market polarises between affordability and luxury. Samsung’s market share has dived from […]
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 […]
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 […]
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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.