Signs of stress seem to be appearing in the US housing market once more. Thus the Wall Street Journal reports: “An estimated one in seven appraisals conducted from 2011 through early 2014 inflated home values by 20% or more..Bankers, appraisers and federal officials in interviews said inflated appraisals are becoming more widespread as the recovery […]
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Tomorrow is the great American shopping day, Black Friday. In the past, every true American would head for the malls, to shop till they dropped. But more and more evidence keeps emerging that consumer habits are rapidly entering the New Normal, as I discussed last week. Thus a detailed study by the Wall Street Journal highlights, as […]
I worry about the $100bn+ investment that it currently being made in new US chemical output. On paper, it seems a ‘slam dunk’ as a US College basketball player might say: Shale gas has created a massive surplus of ethane feedstocks that can provide low-cost production for export Oil prices are very high, and so all […]
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 […]
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 […]
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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.