We all learnt one crucial lesson from Syriza’s victory in the Greek election last week - voters can halt the European Central Bank (ECB). Or in other words, protest coalitions can trump elite consensus. In places like Spain and France, this effect may not work through immediately, but it is being absorbed. Thus Greece and the Eurozone crisis […]
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A manufacturing slowdown is now well underway in China, as the latest official and unofficial Indices confirm. The government is mitigating this via its policy of self-sufficiency – which means a steady reduction in the need for imports – as well as by increasing exports of higher value-added products such as polyethylene (PE). PE is the largest volume plastic, used in […]
I was privileged to be interviewed by Merryn Somerset Webb, editor-in-chief of MoneyWeek (the UK’s best-selling financial magazine) in this week’s edition. The interview covered a wide range of topics including the perilous state of UK house prices and some stock markets, and has prompted enormous interest amongst MoneyWeek readers. Merryn is one of the UK’s leading […]
The last 10 days have seen turmoil in major currency markets: The Swiss National Bank gave up trying to devalue versus the euro, and the franc jumped 30% in minutes The European Central Bank (ECB) launched its €1tn Quantitative Easing (QE) programme, causing an immediate 3% fall in the euro’s value versus the dollar These are major moves by any historical […]
We now have full US Census Bureau data for housing starts in 2014, which shows: Starts returned to the 1m level for the first time since 2007 They were also nearly double the low of 554k seen in 2009 But at 1.006m, they were less than half of the 2.068m peak in 2005 The data also […]
China’s reported 7.4% GDP growth for 2014 was the lowest in 25 years. But even so, it probably still overstates the true economic position. How could China possibly produce a final fiigure for GDP within just 20 days of 2015? Electricity consumption, as Premier Li has advised in the past, is a far more reliable guide to the actual […]
The world is about to be hit by a demand shock equivalent to 1973′s supply shock. Yet, astonishingly, most commentators remain so focused on central bank activity, that they have completely missed what is happening. Here’s how it is playing out. You may remember the ‘The pH Report‘ forecast in early December that: “Oil prices […]
The bursting of the US energy bubble is looking more and more like a replay of the sub-prime bubble in 2008. As investor Warren Buffett has noted, “its only when the tide goes out, that you learn who has been swimming naked .” And nearly a year ago, former central banker William White warned the problems in the global economy were: “Worse […]
Suddenly, far too late, the world is catching up with reality. Goldman Sachs and others yesterday halved their forecast for Brent oil to $42/bbl from $80/bbl. But this isn’t forecasting, this is simply catching up with events long after they happened. Brent, after all, opened at $45/bbl this morning. As readers will remember, I forecast back in August […]
Some extraordinary things are happening in global chemical markets. They indicate something is very wrong in the real world outside financial markets. The chart above highlights some key developments since 18 August when the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus began: Brent oil prices have halved and are down 51% (blue) Naphtha, the main feedstock for the global industry, has also halved […]
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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.