Nobody can guess the outcome of the UK’s general election on 7 May. This is astonishing, as it is only 4 months away. Currently, it seems most unlikely that either of the main parties, Conservative or Labour, will be able to form a government on their own. Indeed, 7 different outcomes have been identified as possible by the […]
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Interest rate risk is rising in the developed economies as the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus continues. Since the blog first highlighted this Unwinding last month: Oil prices have continued to tumble, with Brent now down over $15/bbl from its late-June peak The US$ has continued to rise from multi-year lows versus the yen, euro and pound And of course, […]
Back in April, the blog suggested that capital controls might remain for rather longer in Cyprus than the “few days or weeks” suggested by the central bank. And a month later, the bank was still unrealistically claiming they would be lifted “as soon as possible”. Today, the blog’s own view that they could be in place “for […]
Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion states, “To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction“. Thus the forces of two bodies on each other are always equal and are directed in opposite directions. Policymakers forgot this Law in their response to the 2008 financial Crisis. Instead they believed that cutting short-term interest rates in the major economies to zero, […]
‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ This quotation from Lewis Carroll’s great novel ‘Through the Looking-Glass‘ rather seems to sum up policymakers’ current approach to financial markets. Two recent examples highlight the issue: • […]
Last week saw the 20th EU ‘Crisis Summit’. Like the previous 19, it achieved little. Yet everyone at the meeting knew what had to be agreed: • A banking union which operates across national borders • The issuing of joint Eurozone bonds, guaranteed by all euro members • Adoption of a Federal budget and economic […]
For 25 years, Western policymakers coasted to electoral success on the back of an economic Supercycle. The BabyBoomers’ arrival in the Wealth Creator 25 – 54 age group meant there was just 16 months of recession between 1982-2007. Politics and policy thus hugged the middle ground. Political debate became based on focus groups, rather than […]
Last December, the blog raised the question of how a country like Greece could actually leave the Eurozone. Many people believe this is inevitable. But how would the practical issues be solved? Now Wolfgang Münchau has taken up the challenge in the Financial Times. His research suggests there are only two possible exit routes: • […]
There is much discussion of countries such as Greece being likely to leave the Eurozone. Some even believe it is inevitable. But on a practical basis, how would it happen? This is a question that has been bothering the blog for some months. But with another crisis summit meeting about to start, it is no […]
6 months ago, when reporting Q1 results, the blog strongly disagreed with the rosy outlook being offered by most analysts. It warned then that: “The history of the past 40 years shows high oil prices have always led to: • An initial boom in volumes/margin as buyers rush to secure supplies • Then a period […]
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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.