Credit market problems intensified last week, even though stock markets rallied strongly until Wednesday. I thought you might like to see some more comments on what is going on, from people close to the action. ‘Trust was shaken today (Wednesday). Credit depends on trust. If trust disappears, then credit disappears, and you have a systemic […]
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All the world’s media are now carrying accounts of the ‘liar loans’ and fraud that has accompanied the growth in US mortgage lending in recent years. How did this come about? All manias gain their strength from a widely believed ‘fact’ that turns out to have been an illusion. With subprime mortgage loans, the ‘fact’ […]
Yesterday, the ECB (European Central Bank) provided an unprecedented €95bn into the region’s credit markets, to maintain liquidity. Otherwise, firms would have had problems paying their bills, and employees might not have been paid their wages. This is serious stuff, and it was followed by the US Fed providing $24bn into US markets, and the […]
Two of the largest US auto manufacturers, GM and Ford, have now followed Wal-Mart and Tesco’s lead in detecting a change in consumer sentiment. GM, after announcing particularly strong Q2 Asian and emerging market sales, added that US sales declined 7% as a result of ‘increasing fuel prices and concerns about housing’. Ford said that […]
An interesting thing has happened to benzene markets, which I haven’t seen noted elsewhere. According to ICIS pricing, average prices last week in Europe, US Gulf and Asia were $1053/t, $1052/t and $1040/t respectively. Compare that with a year ago. Then, Europe was at $1220/t, USG at $1135/t and Asia at $1010/t. So we have […]
Normally a 275 point fall on Wall Street, and a 600 point fall in Hong Kong, would make for some headlines. But this time, the media coverage has been very muted. Presumably everybody thinks it will be another ’9 day wonder’, and believes with Chuck Prince of Citigroup that one simply has to keep ‘dancing’. […]
The head of Germany’s financial regulator is warning that US subprime mortgage problems may be about to lead to the worst banking crisis since 1931. Yesterday, WTI crude broke through its 1980’s highs to hit a new all-time record price of $78.77/bbl, and looks poised to push on past $80/bbl. And adding to the sense […]
Alchemists once claimed the ability to turn base metal into gold. More recently, some bankers seem to have been claiming a similar genius, via the magic catalyst of securitisation. These bankers no longer perform their traditional role of lending on a prudent basis to good quality borrowers in the personal or corporate sector. Instead, they […]
Bill Gross runs PIMCO, the world’s largest government bond managers with assets of nearly $700bn. In a new commentary, he pulls no punches about what he sees as the ‘gluttony’ of the super-rich amongst the private equity and hedge fund elite. He also takes aim at the lenders who, in his view, have been ‘too […]
The US dollar has been falling steadily in recent weeks. It is particularly weak against the euro, having fallen almost 5% since January. OPEC countries buy much more from the eurozone than from the US, and the OPEC President has said they are ‘concerned’ about dollar weakness. We probably need to start monitoring oil prices […]
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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.