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 […]
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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 […]
Consumer spending, particularly in the developed economies, is critical to the chemical industry. And there is increasing evidence that a two-tier pattern is developing: • Wealthier consumers are maintaining their spend, helped by lower interest costs on mortgages and recent stock market gains • Lower and middle-income consumers remain under pressure, as they are more […]
The blog, an old-fashioned romantic, has always thought that flowers were the way to woo a lady. But apparently no longer in Japan, according to government adverts. Bloomberg reports the Ministry of Finance is advertising Japanese Government Bonds (JGBs) under the slogan “Men who hold JGBs are popular with women!!”. The campaign, developed by Japan’s […]
China is a very difficult country for foreigners to understand. The blog suspects that the best approach is to apply Winston Churchill’s insight on Russia, namely “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is […]
“Money makes the world go round” as the song from the musical Cabaret tells us. But the chart above, from BofA Merrill Lynch, suggests there isn’t too much money circulating in the world’s largest economy today. It shows M3 (the broadest measure of money supply). Merrill note that its growth is now close to the […]
6 months ago, the blog suggested that normal seasonal demand patterns could resume in 2010. And it optimistically forecast “a strong H1“, on the basis that “consumers should need to restock ahead of the usual Q2 demand peak in autos/construction“. This optimism was based on the American Chemistry Council’s excellent analysis of polymer demand, which […]
Every day, the word “unexpected” appears next to a downbeat economic report. The latest example was yesterday’s US employment report, where the consensus forecast was for a jobs gain of 180k. Yet it has been clear for months that this has been a ‘jobless recovery’, and so the actual figure of only 41k new jobs […]
A year ago, the blog launched its IeC Boom/Gloom Index. This was based on the concept that markets are driven by both sentiment and fundamentals. And whilst fundamentals can be understood by analysing hard data (eg auto sales, housing starts), it is equally important to understand sentiment, and what markets think will happen next. Analysing […]
The blog’s White Paper, ‘Budgeting for a New Normal’, proved enormously popular when it was published earlier this year. ICIS therefore suggested that it would be useful to update it, 6 months later. This Update is now published. It looks at the current state of the global economy, six months on, and then covers 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 as 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.