English children have a card game called ‘Beggar my Neighbour’, where the aim is to win all the cards from your opponents. Central bankers seem to be learning its rules, and applying them to currency trading. OPEC’s weekend summit showed it is clearly worried that it will have a losing hand if oil remains priced […]
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Our annual European conference, organised with ICIS, always provides an excellent opportunity to gain a snapshot of industry views as we move into a new year. At this week’s event in Antwerp, Belgium, the prevailing mood was uncertainty, for the first time since 2002: • Oil prices are high, and volatile. This makes it difficult […]
Gisele Bundchen, the world’s richest supermodel, has joined the list of those who refuse to be paid in US dollars. As a Brazilian, she has had plenty of experience to help her recognise a depreciating currency. According to Bloomberg, she even insisted that a recent contract with US-based Proctor and Gamble for ‘Pantene’ hair products […]
What are the key questions that need to be asked when discussing any budget or strategy proposal? I have just found the answer, from a master in the field. Sir Maurice Hodgson is recognised as one of the greatest ICI Chairmen. Under him, the company became a truly global leader, moving away from its ‘imperial’ […]
The Bank of England correctly predicted in April this year that the risks associated with US subprime lending had increased, that credit risk monitoring was poor, and that markets should be prepared for liquidity to dry up in parts of the financial sector. It must therefore, as the Financial Times said, ‘have required some restraint […]
There has been a noted change of tone from leading policymakers in the past few days. Gone is the jaunty confidence that the world economy is ‘fundamentally sound’. This has been replaced by a sense that debt market problems may have a wider impact than first expected. US Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, typified the new […]
It seems likely that this week’s European Petrochemical Association annual meeting in Berlin will mark a turning point in the petchem cycle. Looking back over 2007, Boy Litjens, CEO of Sabic Europe, told ICIS@EPCA that performance this year had been ‘excellent’, and that they would ‘definitely report the best results ever’. He was also hopeful […]
Dow CEO Andrew Liveris has spelled out very clearly his concerns about the impact of the US subprime crisis and high energy prices. He said that last week’s Fed Funds cut ‘flirted with danger’ in terms of the risks it took with inflation, although it was clearly necessary in order to tackle other problem areas. […]
A week ago, I wrote that it would be important to see if ‘the US Federal Reserve can pull a rabbit out of its hat’ at its meeting later that day. The dust has now settled on its 0.5% Fed Funds rate cut, and one can see that short term liquidity has certainly been improved, […]
Extraordinary events have taken place in the UK since my posting on Friday: • A bankrun took place on the 8th largest bank, Northern Rock, with lines of depositors queuing for hours outside its branches all over the weekend and Monday. • Faced with this, the UK Finance Minister was forced to announce that the […]
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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.