Almost unnoticed, the EU became the largest regional auto market last year. Thanks to the support of scrappage programmes (particularly Germany’s €5bn scheme) it sold 14.4 million autos, compared to just 10.4m in the USA and 13.6m in China. W Europe continued to see higher sales than Central Europe, due to greater government support. But […]
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The blog has come across an interesting example of the impact of China’s credit growth, courtesy of Merryn Somerset Webb in the Financial Times. She highlights a YouTube video (link above) which investigates the new city of Ordos. The old city has become known as “China’s Texas”, because of the recent wealth generated from the […]
The blog has been worrying for some time about what will happen when governments end their stimulus programmes. It does not share the optimism of financial markets, that these will provide to be the “escape velocity” for a quick return to 2003-7 Boom conditions. Today’s data from Germany seems to support its concerns. According to […]
The Dalian polymers future market had a strong end to 2009. As the chart shows, Linear Low Density Polymer volumes (blue line) jumped to 44 million tonnes. The new PVC contract saw the same volume. But there are growing signs that this may prove a ‘last hurrah’. The government is clearly starting to worry about […]
Iceland, “the first country to be run like a hedge fund“, was the original warning sign of the current financial crisis. Today’s chaos in the country, following its rejection of the €4bn bank compensation deal agreed with the UK and The Netherlands, may similarly prove to be the fore-runner of the next stage in the […]
Pity your poor Purchasing Director this week. They know the West is having a cold winter, but they have done their analysis and can show you slides, such as the one above from Petromatrix, that indicate the US has the highest stocks of distillates since 1999. In addition, the world has 75mb of distillate in […]
Blog readers have a wide range of interests. That is clear from the list below of the Top 10 posts in 2009. It also confirms the complexity of the chemical industry, and its fascination. In alphabetical order, it is as follows: • Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble • Companies remain cautious on the outlook • […]
US auto sales last year at 10.4 million were the worst since 1982. Even this figure was slightly artificial, due to the support provided by the $3bn ‘cash for clunkers’ programme in the summer. This impact can be seen in the chart, with total volumes (black line) picking up again in December under the impact […]
The IeC Boom/Gloom Index remains cautious as we enter the New Year. Meant to track sentiment in financial markets, it shows clearly that talk of ‘green shoots’ (green line) leading to a quick recovery has virtually stopped. Whilst the reading for ‘frugal’ (red line) steadied, as we went into the Christmas period. The Index itself […]
Extended downturns, of the type that we are now suffering, generally mark a transition period from one set of business conditions to another. I look at what might be in store for us during this transition, in this week’s edition of ICIS Chemical Business. The analysis focuses on the key areas in the chart – […]
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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.