Long-standing readers will remember that then-UK Finance Minister Alastair Darling was the first Western politician to recognise in August 2008 the disaster that was about to hit financial markets. Now out of office, his warning today therefore deserves the widest possible discussion around the world: “I despair of the way in which EU leaders are […]
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As promised, the blog looks today at the USA’s trade position in polyethylene (based on data for the January-August period from Global Trade Information Services, the leading global supplier). The chart shows US net trade (exports less imports). This peaked in 2009 (green column), with net exports of 1.6 million tonnes. Volume had risen 69% […]
Financial markets have become increasingly nervous in recent weeks, since the blog last reviewed developments in global bond markets. Its conclusion then was that investors are worrying more about return of capital, than return on capital, as we transition to the New Normal. This is because 272 million westerners are now over 55 years old, […]
The brave new world of modern finance continues to amaze the blog. It still has problems with the idea that the answer to having too much debt is to borrow some more. But last week’s Eurozone summit not only did this (as noted by the German central bank), but added a new element. Its new […]
The 2012-14 Budget period offers great opportunities, as well as great challenges. Will companies continue to focus on short-term developments in financial markets? Michael Porter’s Shared Value concept instead offers us a powerful model for creating future growth. Will policymakers stop focusing on the 24 hour news cycle and instead begin to set out the […]
Blog readers can choose their favourite leading indicator this week. In financial markets, the US S&P 500 index continued its recent rally. If you believe the bullish analysts; a Greek default, lengthy arguments between Germany and France, and the need to expand the Eurozone bailout fund into the €1-2trn range ($1.4-2.8trn), are all good news. […]
Its the ‘big picture’ issues that we need to watch these days, no longer detailed forecasts of individual product growth rates. They are driving chemical product sales in every major region. The chart above from the Financial Times highlights Europe’s drive towards austerity. Long gone are the days of the 2009 G20 meeting, when everyone […]
Financial markets continued their start of quarter rally last week. But their volatility amazes even seasoned observers. The US Dow Jones Index has moved at least 100 points in 57 of the last 58 days, for example, whilst crude oil jumped $3/bbl on Friday alone. Of course, the continued correlation between stock and oil markets […]
The blog will publish its fifth annual Budget Outlook next weekend. As usual, it is therefore time to review last year’s Outlook. Past performance may not be a perfect guide to future outcomes. But it is one of the best that we have. The blog’s 2008 Outlook ‘Budgeting for a Downturn’, and its 2009 ‘Budgeting […]
The 10000 readers who downloaded the blog’s first Budget White Paper in December 2009, ‘Budgeting for a New Normal’, will remember the issues highlighted in the triangle above. At the time, they were being widely ignored, as policymakers assumed that the economy would soon return to its previous SuperCycle. Today, this optimism has been revealed […]
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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.