US housing starts are slowing so far this year, with February’s starts just below the million level again on an annualised basis. This follows the steadily declining rate of home ownership, which is now back at 1995′s level of 64%. And yesterday’s Case-Shiller report on home prices suggests the 10-City Index may well have peaked back in […]
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It is looking more and more likely that the global economy hit a peak in Q2 last year, and has since been slowing. Latest data on chemical production from the American Chemistry Council indicates a further slowdown so far this year, as the chart shows: Global production slowed to 2.8% in February from a 5% peak […]
Too many policymakers, companies and investors are continuing to ignore the dramatic changes taking place in the age profile of the global population. Yet common sense tells us these must have a major impact on the economy. The impact comes from 2 equally important developments: One is the rise in the number of people in the New […]
Major change is underway in China under President Xi Jinping. And this is not ’sound-bite’ policy change, created for the evening news bulletins. Instead this is long-term strategy, intended to rebuild the economy for decades ahead. As a result, Western policymakers have largely missed its implications, and are having to scramble to catch up. One example is the sudden scramble to […]
There have so far been 3 stages to the oil price collapse since I first forecast this development in mid-August: The first stage saw prices reach my initial forecast target of $70/bbl in November They then fell further to reach my second price target of $50/bbl in January Since then, prices have been trading in a wide range. Daily moves of $2/bbl, […]
China’s property bubble is collapsing, with average house prices now down 10% from their peak. As agents Knight Frank note, “The developers have two to five years of stock to clear. So until that has been cleared, prices aren’t going up any time soon” We are also seeing more bankruptcies amongst property developers. These began a […]
Unfortunately, the European Central Bank (ECB) does not read the blog, or yet subscribe to ‘The pH Report’. If it did, it would have been forewarned back in August that a collapse in oil prices was potentially about to provide the catalyst for the arrival of deflation. Instead, as the Minutes of its critical January […]
Debt, debt, glorious debt, Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood. So follow me, follow, down to the hollow And there let us wallow in glorious debt (apologies to Flanders & Swann) It seems impossible today, but until the year 2000 most Western countries were reducing their debt burdens. Thus President Bill Clinton boasted […]
Living standards have risen 20-fold over the past 200 years. Yet they rose just 3-fold over the previous 800 years. What enabled this dramatic change to take place? The key event was clearly the Industrial Revolution. As Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England, notes in a thought-provoking new paper: “In explaining rising living standards since […]
One by one, the Western economies are falling into deflation. The Eurozone began the process, with deflation of -0.2% in December followed by -0.6% in January, as the chart shows (blue line). Similarly Germany, Europe’s largest economy, moved into deflation in January, just 2 weeks after the deputy finance minister, Steffen Kampeter, told CNBC there was […]
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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.