European consumers remain very wary about the future. The slide above, from the monthly CEFIC report, shows that fear of unemployment is THE major concern. Almost half the population, a net balance of 44.3%, worried about this in December (yellow column), only slightly fewer than in November (blue column). This concern creates a major headwind […]
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The US government used to depend on China to fund its deficit. In 2006, China bought 47.4% of all US bonds issued. But last year, as the chart from the NY Times shows, China bought just 4.6%, leaving US investors to buy the rest. This is a yet another indicator of the profound changes underway […]
US housing is still limping along the bottom. December’s housing starts were only 0.2% above 2008 levels. Overall, 2009 saw just 554k starts, the lowest level for 50 years, despite the support of the $8k tax credit. During the Boom period, as the ACC’s chart above shows, starts (blue line) peaked at a 2.2 million […]
Will Beacham of ICIS interviewed me yesterday in London’s Trafalgar Square. Please click above if you would like to see the discussion. Or click here if you would like to see Will’s summary on ICIS news.
The downside of the credit bubble continues to impact the UK’s Premier League, and the blog’s own soccer club, Manchester United. Today’s Guardian notes that United were bought by the US Glazer family for £810m ($1.3bn) in 2005, using £540m of debt. Since then, it says this debt has “cost United £340m in cash” in […]
Almost unnoticed, the EU became the largest regional auto market last year. Thanks to the support of scrappage programmes (particularly Germany’s €5bn scheme) it sold 14.4 million autos, compared to just 10.4m in the USA and 13.6m in China. W Europe continued to see higher sales than Central Europe, due to greater government support. But […]
The blog has come across an interesting example of the impact of China’s credit growth, courtesy of Merryn Somerset Webb in the Financial Times. She highlights a YouTube video (link above) which investigates the new city of Ordos. The old city has become known as “China’s Texas”, because of the recent wealth generated from the […]
The blog has been worrying for some time about what will happen when governments end their stimulus programmes. It does not share the optimism of financial markets, that these will provide to be the “escape velocity” for a quick return to 2003-7 Boom conditions. Today’s data from Germany seems to support its concerns. According to […]
The Dalian polymers future market had a strong end to 2009. As the chart shows, Linear Low Density Polymer volumes (blue line) jumped to 44 million tonnes. The new PVC contract saw the same volume. But there are growing signs that this may prove a ‘last hurrah’. The government is clearly starting to worry about […]
Iceland, “the first country to be run like a hedge fund“, was the original warning sign of the current financial crisis. Today’s chaos in the country, following its rejection of the €4bn bank compensation deal agreed with the UK and The Netherlands, may similarly prove to be the fore-runner of the next stage in 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.