Next Friday sees the start of the main shopping period in the US – ‘Black Friday’, the day after Thanksgiving. But increasingly, consumers are giving the stores a miss. Or even worse (from the retailers’ viewpoint) only visiting to check out products before buying them online. Thus Wal-Mart, the largest US chain, is now having to extend its Black Friday […]
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Change is always unwelcome and usually uncomfortable. But it also provides us with Opportunity, as the Chinese character for Crisis highlights. The second half of our Boom, Gloom and the New Normal eBook provides detailed discussion of the Opportunity for product development, research and development, and manufacturing in the New Normal. We also summarised the key features of the New Normal in […]
Many people, including former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, have questioned whether it is really possible for the US Federal Reserve to use monetary policy to boost employment. What can the Fed do to ensure people get the high school diplomas they need for employment today? What can it do to provide more jobs for Blacks […]
The picture on the right is the Xiaomi Mi4 smartphone. The 16GB version sells in China at Rmb 1999 ($326), and the 64GB version at Rmb 2499. By comparison, Apple’s iPhone 6 sells for Rmb 5288. Unsurprisingly, Xiaomi is moving up the world sales league very fast. In Q2, it jumped to 5.1% market share, from just 1.8% in Q2 […]
The best view is always from the top of the mountain. And that seems where we are today in global auto markets. They are on track for another record year. And even better news is that sales have risen in each of the 5 major markets for the first time since 2007. The bad news is that […]
There are 2 ways to improve operating rates in an industry. One is to increase volumes, the other is to reduce capacity. The latest APPE data covering H1 2014 for European olefin capacity highlights how the European petrochemical industry has successfully used both mechanisms over the past year to improve its position: Ethylene volume increased to 9.8MT, versus […]
The blog is delighted to be able to congratulate Indian Oil (IOC) on becoming the first company to commit to building toilets in India. In response to Premier Modi’s appeal, the chairman of India’s bggest refiner, B. Ashok, last week personally began to build toilets at a school near its refinery in Mathura in Uttar Pradesh state. IOC have […]
Major problems are developing in the US auto market. The critical issue is that companies have been adding capacity since 2009 on the basis that demand would return to SuperCycle levels. But it hasn’t. The result is that the mass market has become more and more competitive. Only sales into the high margin luxury/pickup segments are actually […]
The New Old 55+ generation is the key demographic for future consumer spending. Their numbers are rising rapidly as global life expectancy has risen by 50% since 1950. Over the same period, global fertility rates have halved. So there will be fewer younger people joining the wealth-creator generation of 25 – 54 year-olds that has historically driven economic […]
August is a holiday month for Europe’s statisticians. So we had to wait until yesterday for a combined summary of July and August’s EU auto sales. As the chart shows, they indicate a new slowdown is underway after the more encouraging volumes at the start of the year: Sales were up only 5.6% in July and 2.1% in August (red square), […]
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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.