Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, spent his trip to Singapore yesterday expressing concern over the fall in the US$. ‘“We have never been experiencing such big pressure. We are worried about how to preserve the value of our reserves,’ he said. In a separate interview, Mr Wen then went further, stating ‘We will increase the […]
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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 […]
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 […]
1 in every 196 US households was in receipt of a foreclosure filing at the end of September, according to Bloomberg. This is a scary number for anyone who owns a house. And Quarter 4 is likely to be worse. Latest figures from the Realtors Association show September’s existing home sales down 19.1% from a […]
Christophe de Margerie, the new TOTAL CEO, has burst the bubble of complacency that has surrounded discussion of future oil supply. The ‘business as usual’ forecasts of both the International Energy Agency and the US government assume that the world will be producing c120m bbls/day by 2030. But de Margerie said he wished to ‘speak […]
Back at the end of August, I suggested that we had only reached the end of Phase1 of the credit crunch. I feared that it had the potential to get much worse, and to damage the ‘real economy’ where all of us in the chemical industry live and work. This was definitely a minority view […]
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’ […]
Since posting yesterday, oil prices have moved further ahead, with WTI closing at $93.53. I have also had an interesting dialogue with Paul Satchell of ING Bank, one of the leading chemical analysts, who has kindly allowed me to summarise his comments. Paul believes that investors have become ‘dangerously complacent’ about the industry’s ability to […]
Oil prices last week rose to an all-time, inflation-adjusted, high in New York at over $92/bbl. Meanwhile food and commodity prices have continued their upward march. In China, the rate of consumer price inflation hit a decade-high of 6.5% in August. So why are we still seeing rates of around 2% reported in the USA […]
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 […]
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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.