The blog continues to believe that the current downturn is a transition period, at least in the West, towards a more frugal way of life. And its theory has received a boost from a New York Times feature which suggests this might be happening in the bastion of consumerism, New York. The NYT suggests the […]
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“The more things change, the more they stay the same“. Or, as the blog’s French-speaking readership might say, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose“. When the blog started work in the chemical industry, in 1978, it was possible to pay up to 114% of one’s income as tax in the UK, if one […]
Q3 comments from Tesco, the world’s 3rd largest retailer, confirm the picture of a more frugal consumer suggested by other majors. On the positive side, they report “a material improvement” in sales “in both Asia and Europe“. And Tesco expect “this trend to continue into Q4 and beyond”. But on the less positive side, CFO […]
China’s Dalian polymer futures market continues to have a major influence on regional, and global, polyethylene markets. But November’s trading volume was lower than a year ago, at 25 million tonnes. This is the first negative annual growth since volume took off in June last year. Last month, the blog noted a comment from LyondellBasell […]
The blog has recently noted a major change of mindset in the financial community. As the Financial Times commented this week: “For the first time in a long time, banks seem to be in control of their lending policies. During the credit boom, the banks were held hostage by companies and private equity groups, as […]
The American Chemistry Council’s excellent weekly report contains some potentially good news on the outlook for Q1 demand. Its detailed analysis of US polymer markets (above) suggests customers are currently reducing their inventories. CFO’s presumably assume that the main impact of the housing/auto stimulus programmes is now finished, and are no doubt keen to keep […]
The momentum-driven rally in financial markets has slowed recently, with many now in temporary trading ranges. And this is reflected in December’s IeC Boom/Gloom Index (above). The Index (blue column) has been steady since June. Underlying fundamentals show no sign of improvement. The ‘green shoots’ index (green line), which tracks expectations for a quick economic […]
Wall Street may be paying out $bns in bonuses. But in the rest of the USA, rising unemployment and foreclosure are having a major impact. In a new analysis, the New York Times reveals that the Federal food stamp programme “now helps feed one in eight Americans and one in four children“. Renamed the Supplemental […]
The above chart, courtesy of trade data experts GTIS, shows the extraordinary leap in China’s polyethylene imports this year. They have surged 63% January – October in 2009 (blue bar) to 6.7 million tonnes versus 4.2 MT in 2007 (green bar) and 2008 (orange bar). Many countries have seen massive rises. Iran exported 404kt vs […]
In difficult times, the industry looks to the major companies for their advice. And they certainly provided this at our 8th European Conference (co-organised with ICIS), Shell’s Jonathan Forbes-Lane, European GM, focused on the “gale-force recession” now underway. He expected “prices to stay volatile and unpredictable because they were being pulled in opposing directions by […]
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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.