Darwin hit it on the nail when he wrote in ‘Origin of the Species’ that “Unless profitable variations occur, natural selection can do nothing“. His message is echoed today by US Fed Governor Kevin Warsh, one of the few policy-makers who deals in reality rather than wishful thinking. Warsh sets out to “debunk some popular […]
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When the G-20 met in London in April 2009, they produced a Communiqué containing just 688 words. And as the blog noted in conclusion, there was “no sign of a ‘Plan B’ being developed“, in case the Stimulus measures failed to work. This was still the case last September in Pittsburgh, when the Leader’s Statement […]
The blog is a great believer in the retail sector’s ability to help us forecast chemical industry trends. McBride is Europe’s leading ‘own brand’ in the household and personal sector. Its profit warning on Thursday of “weak retail sales across Europe“, therefore rings alarm bells. The sector is a large outlet for chemicals, and has […]
At the mid-year point, its interesting to look at the performance of the total chemical industry, including pharmaceuticals. The chart, from the American Chemistry Council, shows global demand has now recovered to 2008 levels. Pharma is more recession-proof than other parts of the industry, as people still become ill and need treatment. In terms of […]
The blog is in gloomy mood today, in spite of last night’s England World Cup win. Not because Wall Street ‘analysts’ maintained last month’s 33% drop in US new home sales was ‘unexpected‘. Nor even that the consensus forecast is still for 700k housing starts this year, when current data suggest that last year’s 560k […]
Stock markets have always been somewhat unreliable as a forecasting tool. And their record has got worse in recent years, as long-term investors have been replaced by high-speed day traders. In turn, this affects the Leading Indicators produced by the OECD, and others, as these rely on stock price movements in their analysis. A more […]
The blog is delighted to see that Ineos is to build its first European BioEnergy Process Technology plant at Teesside, UK. The £52m ($75m) plant will produce 30m litres (24 million tonnes) of bioethanol, and 3MW of electricity on start-up in 2012. It will fuel 250k autos running on E10 blend, and provide electricity for […]
China’s petchem volume surge will hit imports, as electricity consumption/bank lending data shows economy’s growth starting to slow
The above chart is the blog’s best effort to correlate the change in China’s bank lending with the real economy. It shows electricity consumption (blue line) and lending (red column) since July 2008. Electricity consumption is an excellent proxy for the real economy, and probably more reliable than GDP figures, which are widely believed to […]
Spring should be a boom time for building new homes in the USA. But in fact, May’s single family housing starts (bottom chart) fell 17.2% versus April, as the $8k tax credit ended. Yet affordability should be high, with prices down 30% from the peak, and mortgage rates at the lowest levels for decades. This […]
The blog has been out and about in recent days, visiting some of the major European chemical companies. Most continue to see strong order books. In normal circumstances, this would lead to considerable confidence about the outlook for the rest of the year. However, there are increasing fears, as Nigel Davis has noted in ICIS […]
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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.