The US PVC industry is hitting new problems, to add to the post-2006 collapse of the US housing market. Yet only 10 years ago, it was riding high. Demand into housing (the main outlet) was at record levels thanks to subprime lending, and PVC production had just hit a record 7.3 million tonnes. Even after the financial Crisis, global […]
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US reaches ‘peak car’ moment as incentives, inventories rise, whilst fewer Americans carry driving licenses
The blog’s suggestion back in March that now would be a good time for US readers to buy a new car is looking more and more prescient. As the head of American Honda explained to investors last month: “In addition to a heavy reliance on fleet sales to boost volumes, we are seeing some of our […]
Today is Mid-Autumn Festival day in China, held to celebrate the harvest. Traditionally it features the exchange of moon cakes filled with lotus paste and egg yolks, whilst children go to lantern parades. But in recent years, it has also become synonymous with corruption. Silver moon cakes, as pictured above, became a common gift for […]
Many readers have been taking a well-earned break over the past few weeks. As usual, therefore, the blog is highlighting key posts during August, to help you catch up as you return to the office. Economic outlook: Great Unwinding of stimulus underway. Q2 results show slowing growth. US retail sales decline in line with incomes, […]
We are now two-thirds of the way through 2014, and critical decisions are looming for companies and investors. Do they give central banks one more chance to stimulate growth? And are they prepared to trust policymakers to avoid a major geopolitical crisis in the Ukraine? Or do they decide that ‘enough is enough’, and that […]
Car sales in Japan, Russia, Brazil and India currently account for just under 1 in 5 of global sales. Their market share peaked at 21% in 2008, but is today back at 2005′s level of 17%. As the chart shows, it has been a roller-coaster ride for all of them: Japan’s 4.7m sales were 10% of the global total […]
The global economy really isn’t getting any better. That’s the key conclusion from the blog’s quarterly survey of company results for Q2. Of course, some companies are doing well – either because of shale gas economics, or their own market positioning. But consumer giant Unilever summarised the general picture very well: “Market growth continued to slow in emerging […]
US retail sales tell a sorry story about the state of underlying demand. US sales at Wal-Mart, the world’s largest store chain, have failed to grow for 6 consecutive quarters, with shopper traffic falling 1.1% in Q2. The company’s explanation for the problems is worth pondering by anyone in business: It is facing intense competition […]
The blog’s latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog is below. By Paul Hodges of International eChem China’s July lending level of just Rmb 385bn ($62.6bn) has surprised financial markets, which were expecting an increase in stimulus. But bigger surprises may lie ahead. The strong link between lending and passenger car sales […]
China’s exports are growing again. But not because SuperCycle levels of demand have returned in the West. Instead, its companies are using their low-cost manufacturing model to take on and beat Asian and Western giants. Developments in the global smartphone market highlight the rapidity of the change underway They confirm China’s economy is moving in exactly 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.