US job markets have been very difficult since the Crisis began in 2008. In the past, it has typically taken 30 months for employment levels to return to their previous peak. But this time, it took until last September for the US to finally recapture the 139 million jobs peak of November 2007. The trend in the […]
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Welcome to the New Normal. The Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus has led global oil prices to drop back to $50/bbl. Meanwhile China, the major source of demand growth since 2009, is now seeing a major slowdown. And, of course, this is still only the beginning of the great transformation that is now underway as we enter […]
The chemical industry continues to be the best leading indicator that we have for the global economy. This is because it is not only the 3rd largest industry (after agriculture and energy), but also because it is truly global and impacts virtually all areas of modern-day life. The chart above therefore presents a very downbeat […]
Oil prices have now fallen $50/bbl since I forecast their collapse in August. But it is only recently that companies and investors have begun to realise this price fall is real, and not just a minor blip. As a result, few have yet recognised the extent of the collateral damage that is likely to appear in […]
In 2013, there were fewer births in the G7 countries – responsible for nearly 50% of the global economy – than in any year since the Great Depression year of 1933.* As the chart also shows, 1933 was an exception. Births bounced back immediately afterwards. But the low figure in 2013 is part of the declining trend seen since […]
“Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough”. That was the statement by European Central Bank head Mario Draghi in July 2012, where he aimed to draw a line under the Eurozone debt crisis. Yet here we are in December 2014, […]
2.5bn people in the world still lack access to toilets, according to the World Health Organisation. That’s down just 7% from the 2.7bn people without toilets in 1990. What have we been doing over the past 20 years to allow this terrible situation to continue? Why have we not focused on this area as a […]
One by one, the fault-lines are opening in the debt-fuelled ‘Ring of Fire’ created by the central banks. First published in June, the map above highlights where I believe these fault-lines run: China is the epicentre of the approaching earthquake – its manufacturing industry is now contracting Russia is in financial crisis, with interest rates at […]
Believing conventional wisdom can destroy your profits. One example is playing out in the oil market before our eyes. Another example is the myth that China was about to become middle class. Yet income levels always made this impossible: More than 9 out of 10 Chinese earn less than $20/day By comparison, the basic state pension in the UK is 25% higher, at over […]
Can you imagine your government publishing a report that showed $6.8tn has been wasted in “ineffective investment” in the past 4 years? That is $6.8tn, by the way, not a typo. And it is more than Japan’s total annual GDP, or the combined annual GDP of Germany and France. No, I thought not. I certainly cannot remember […]
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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.