The global chemical downturn has now been underway for nearly a year. And latest data on regional production volume from the American Chemistry Council for March shows no sign of improvements, as the chart highlights: Global demand growth in March was just 2.9% (black line), versus the healthy 5% growth seen a year ago Asia has […]
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Nobody would imagine that the SFr 800bn ($840bn) Swiss pension scheme could go bankrupt. But Swiss pension experts suggest it “will be bankrupt within 10 years (without)…a radical overhaul of the retirement system.” The problem is simple – a combination of low/negative interest rates and an increase in life expectancy. A major analysis in the Financial Times […]
Vast over-expansion is underway in the global petrochemicals industry, as companies rush to build new capacity at a time when demand patterns are going through major change. US companies and investors are worst exposed, as their plans are based on exporting polyethylene and other ethylene-based derivatives. There are a number of fundamental problems with these […]
More and more evidence is emerging of the major slowdown now underway in China’s economy. China’s leadership have warned this would take place since they took office 2 years ago. And they have reinforced the message in recent months with their focus on explaining the move into the New Normal and its consequences. A major interview […]
It seems that China is preparing for a difficult 18 months. President Xi and Premier Li have to implement key decisions now, that will create winners and losers. This is therefore the moment when they have to take the pain that results from the need to reverse the ‘lost decade’ under Hu and Wen. Otherwise, they will […]
Apparently Friday’s US jobs numbers disappointed the experts. The consensus forecast was that 250k jobs would have been created in March – yet only half the forecast actually appeared. Even more tellingly, hiring estimates for January/February were revised down. Separate data also showed weak growth in wages and spending. None of this was really a surprise, […]
UK economic policy is now coming under discussion, as May’s Gemeral Election approaches. The Financial Times has kindly printed my letter below, highlighting the economic impact of the demographic changes now underway. April 1, 2015 9:34 pm Sir, Your editorial “Zero significance in the UK inflation milestone”, (March 27) ignores the impact of two critical variables. As […]
China’s economy has not had a good start to the year. Central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, admitted at the weekend that growth had “tumbled a bit too much“, adding: “China’s inflation is also declining, so we need to be vigilant to see if the disinflation trend will continue, and if deflation will happen or not” […]
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 […]
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 […]
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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.