The good news is that the IMF thinks that the economy may have stopped getting worse. The bad news is that it thinks it may be a long time before we get back to earlier levels of demand. The main problem is the ongoing weakness of the banking system. The IMF has maintained its April […]
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China’s perceived demand has been the major driving force behind the rallies in financial and commodities markets this year. It has also attracted large volumes of polymer imports. But this wishful thinking ignores the fundamental issue that China’s economy is relatively small (just $4trn in a world economy of $60trn) and is 104th in terms […]
There is increasing evidence for the blog’s belief that the auto industry is embarking on a fundamental shift in its approach. An interview in just-auto with Daimler’s R&D head, Thomas Weber, provides some important insights into the opportunities that may develop for chemical companies as a result. Weber notes that “cost, knowledge and speed” are […]
When the G-20 met last April, it issued a Communiqué containing just 688 words. Its Pittsburgh meeting over the weekend produced a Leader’s Statement containing 9292 words. “More” does generally not mean “better” when it comes to writing action plans. Instead, the document simply seems to be a catch-all of comments from the 20 leaders. […]
The blog believes that the landscape has changed during the current downturn. We came into it on the back of a major boom in consumption, supported by reckless lending and borrowing. This mind-set seems unlikely to return quickly. Instead, as the period of destocking/restocking comes to an end, we may face a “new reality”. This […]
US corporate earnings were down a record 89% in Q1 versus the previous 12 months at just $7. Q2 saw only a minor improvement with earnings at only $8. Its interesting, therefore, to see market expectations for 2010. The chart is based on S&P analyst forecasts, and shows “reported earnings” (red line) are expected to […]
The above chart, from Moncef Hadhri’s excellent monthly report from CEFIC (the European chemical industry association) provides an interesting snapshot of the state of the EU chemical industry. On the positive side, it shows that recovery from the destocking period was well underway in June (the latest data available). Volume (green line), had risen 10% […]
Some readers may remember the 2007 and 2008 reports from the Bank of International Settlements (the central bankers’ bank). In July 2007 the blog titled its summary ‘4 risks to the world economy’, and July 2008′s was titled ‘The difficult task of damage control’. Not all of the BIS’s forecasts proved correct, but it was […]
Coincidentally, both the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England yesterday signalled the probable end of the ‘the recession’ yesterday. But as the blog noted last month, statistics don’t tell the whole story. The issue is that economists usually define recession as simply being 2 or more quarters of negative growth. Automatically, therefore, any […]
After destocking, and then restocking, what next? The blog is a great believer in following the insights of the major retailers, who have been consistently “on the money” in their analysis. Thus it takes very seriously the comments of Wal-Mart CEO, Mike Duke, who has joined the camp of those who believe we face a […]
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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.