In early August, the blog noted that politicians were beginning to recognise the seriousness of the economic situation. First, China’s finance minister Liu He warned that ‘an economic restructuring was inevitable’. Then the UK’s finance minister said the ‘global economy was at a 60-year low’, and France’s Prime Minister added that the world was facing […]
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Industrial production is the key indicator for chemical sales. And it appears a significant decline is now underway in manufacturing. The chart shows August’s purchasing manager indices (PMIs) for most of the major countries/regions. India, Switzerland, Greece and Brazil were the only ones showing expansion. Reporting on the eurozone figures this morning, the Financial Times […]
US housing starts, so important to the chemical industry, are now firmly anchored in recession territory. The chart above, from the ACC’s weekly report, shows they are at levels last seen in 1990-1. And with the current disruption in financial markets, it is hard to imagine that a recovery will start in the near future. […]
The proposal now before Congress to authorise the spending of $700bn to bail out Wall Street contains just 849 words. It avoids the need to go into further detail via its suggestion that the Treasury Secretary should simply have unlimited authority to act as he ‘deems necessary’. But 5 key questions are bound to be […]
Does the US Treasury read the blog? Just hours after the chart below was posted, rumours began to circulate of a major government initiative to try and stabilise financial markets.
Alan Greenspan’s comments (below), led the blog to investigate how the world’s major stock markets had moved since their recent peaks. All, as shown in the chart, are now in bear markets. Stock markets often forecast economic developments 6 – 12 months ahead, and so this represents a negative indicator for future chemical demand. Also […]
Another day, another rescue. This time on the other side of the Atlantic. HBOS, the UK’s largest mortgage lender, with a 20% market share, announced this morning that it was being rescued via a merger with the Lloyds TSB bank. The deal was brokered by the UK government. UK Finance Minister, Alastair Darling, told the […]
‘A disorderly failure of AIG could add to already significant levels of financial market fragility and lead to substantially higher borrowing costs, reduced household wealth, and materially weaker economic performance,’ according to the US Federal Reserve last night. As a result, the US government now owns 79.9% of the nation’s largest insurer, in return for […]
Pimco, the world’s largest bond fund, have repeated their belief that we are facing a ‘Minsky moment’, named after Hyman Minsky (pictured). His insight was that a long period of stability, such as that experienced over the past decade, eventually leads to major instability. This is because investors forget that higher reward equals higher risk. […]
The blog has never liked disaster movies, but it was quite a weekend for those who do. First, there was the hurricane hitting Houston and Texas. I used to live in Houston, and watching the pictures of the damage, could recognise familiar places washed away, or burnt down. The blog’s sympathy goes to all those […]
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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.