China’s Sinopec has taken a lead in reviewing its petrochemical expansion plans. Speaking to employees last week, Wang Tianpu, CPC division President, noted that ‘global crude prices may remain high and the petrochemical industry may become even more competitive’. Today, he gave more details, saying that they plan to lower 2008 petchem expenditure by 4.6bn […]
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The US government has finally decided to nationalise the two home loan giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Readers will remember I forecast this would be necessary a year ago, in a letter to the Financial Times. I argued then that ‘a buyer of last resort, such as the Federal government, would probably now need […]
‘Deleveraging’ is an ugly word, and it has ugly implications. Bill Gross of Pimco, who manages the world’s largest bond fund, has done us all a favour by trying to explain its impact, and why it is likely to continue for some time to come. He notes that all financial institutions are now reducing the […]
The blog has worried in the past about the way that official statistics seem to be increasingly manipulated to provide a rosy view of the economy. Barrons, the leading US investment magazine, provides another example this week, in connection with the report that US GDP grew at 3.3% in Q2. Barrons notes that this is […]
There seems no end to the losses being revealed by the world’s major banks. The total has now reached $514bn. 110 banks and investment firms have now posted writedowns. CitiGroup, the largest US bank, tops the list with $55.1bn of losses, closely followed by Merrill Lynch with $51.8bn. Then comes UBS of Switzerland with $44.2bn. […]
A trend seems to be developing amongst the world’s policy makers. Last month saw China and the UK’s finance ministries warning of bad times to come. Yesterday, France’s finance minister joined the chorus, saying that she had ‘underestimated the spillover from the US financial and housing market turmoil’. Even more significantly, her boss, French prime […]
Many readers have been out of the office during August on a well-deserved break. I am therefore highlighting below the main postings over the past month, in the hope this will help them to catch up quickly on key developments – please click on the highlighted title if you want to read the original posting: […]
Another policy maker has decided realism is the best policy when talking about the current credit crunch. China’s Liu He started the trend earlier this month, by talking about the need for ‘economic restructuring’. Now the UK’s Finance Minister, Alistair Darling, has become the first western official to abandon reassurance and instead to focus on […]
Housing is a vital market for chemical companies. It boomed in the US and other Western countries as credit standards were relaxed between 2003-7. Now it is at the centre of the credit crunch. Martin Feldstein, Harvard economics professor, and the man who chairs the Board that determines the duration of US recessions, is clearly […]
US house prices, according to today’s S&P/Case-Shiller Index, are still falling quite sharply. As shown in the chart, they are now down 17% versus last year. The key influence, according to S&P, is that ‘the markets that were the high-flyers during the recent real estate boom continue to be the ones that are leading 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.