World trade fell 12% last year, its worst decline since 1945. First estimates also suggest global GDP fell 2.2%, according to Pascal Lamy, head of the World Trade Organisation. This confirms the World Bank’s fears back last March, that the global economy might shrink for the first time since World War 2. Lamy went on […]
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France’s Carrefour is the world’s 2nd largest retailer, with sales of €86bn ($117bn). Reporting 2009 results, CEO Lars Oloffson echoed Wal-Mart’s CEO Mike Duke, saying he saw “challenging” times ahead. And he added that “I don’t see any improvement in the short term in the economic environment. That means very clearly that we have to […]
15% of Americans were either in foreclosure, or at least one payment overdue, according to the Q4 Mortgage Bankers Association survey. This is a record high, but the MBA sees some signs that the numbers may have peaked. It is concerned, however, over the rise in the number of long-term unemployed, now a record 40% […]
Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer with $400bn sales, saw deflation in its core US market last quarter. Prices were down minus 1.6%, even more than the -1% forecast. The cause was lack of confidence amongst shoppers, many of whom are now living “paycheck to paycheck”. The major retailers have an excellent record as forecasters of […]
No wonder alarm bells were ringing in China’s central bank last week. The above chart (from China Daily) shows how total lending rebounded to $204bn in January, only 14% below the 2009 level. Total lending doubled during 2009 to $1.4bn, an astonishing amount for a country with total GDP of $4.3trn. Of course, this enabled […]
The European Union was the leading auto market in the world in 2009. It sold 14.4m, versus 13.6m in China and 10.4m in the USA. January has continued this promising trend, with volumes up 13% versus 2009. But it is likely to prove temporary, as government scrappage schemes end. This has already happened in the […]
The blog was in Vienna this week for a World Refining Association conference on the Global Petrochemical outlook. It had the privilege of chairing a very distinguished panel of industry leaders in a discussion about managing through the downturn. One of the key inputs came from Anton de Vries, LyondellBasell SVP, who had earlier shown […]
The blog is delighted to learn from ICIS that thousands of copies of its new White Paper, ‘Budgeting for a New Normal’, have been downloaded in the first week of publication. Please click here if you would like to obtain a free copy.
Anti-dumping duties (ADDs) are on the rise, as countries seek to protect their own manufacturers. The most publicised ADDs so far, of course, were those by the US on Chinese tyres in September. In retaliation, China hit companies such as BASF with duties on US produced nylon 6. Separately, India imposed an ADD on caustic […]
One can only feel sorry for China’s government leaders. A year ago, they faced 23m unemployed, as their export markets collapsed in the West. In order to avoid major social unrest, they opted to unleash what the Wall Street Journal called “one of the biggest credit expansions in history“. $1.4trn was lent during 2009, in […]
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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.