Financial markets today only care about one thing - whether central banks will continue to provide more low-cost financing to support higher asset prices. Thus markets liked last Friday’s weak US jobs report. They hoped that the US Federal Reserve would slow its tapering process as a result. This inverted logic explains why bad news for the […]
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The stock market used to be a good leading indicator for the economy. But that was before the central banks decided to manipulate it for their own purposes. As then US Federal Reserve Chairman boasted 3 years ago on launching their second round of money-printing: “Policies have contributed to a stronger stock market just as […]
Many readers have been taking a well-earned break over the past few weeks. As usual, therefore, the blog is highlighting key posts during August, to help you catch up as you return to the office. Economic outlook: Great Unwinding of stimulus underway. Q2 results show slowing growth. US retail sales decline in line with incomes, […]
We all know that China’s published GDP figures are meaningless. China’s premier, Li Keqiang, has told us so. And common sense tells us that no country, large or small, can possibly produce accurate GDP data within 2 weeks of the end of a quarter. Nor is it possible to believe that this data never needs to […]
We are now two-thirds of the way through 2014, and critical decisions are looming for companies and investors. Do they give central banks one more chance to stimulate growth? And are they prepared to trust policymakers to avoid a major geopolitical crisis in the Ukraine? Or do they decide that ‘enough is enough’, and that […]
We must all hope that new economic policies now being implemented in China are successful. The alternative, of a debt implosion, is too awful to contemplate. But as China’s state-owned media continually remind us, the transition is likely to prove extremely difficult. An important interview with the deputy head of the National Economic Research Institute, Wang […]
Fracking has completely changed the outlook for US natural gas supplies, as the above chart from the latest Energy Information Agency 2014 annual report shows: It forecasts a 56% increase in total natural gas production from 2012 to 2040 This is largely due to growth in shale gas (green) and tight gas (brown) Shale gas output […]
The Indian Prime Minister’s address on Independence Day is the major event of the political year, equal to the US President’s ‘State of the Union’ speech. It was particularly important this year as India has a new reforming prime minister in Narendra Modi. It it is thus hugely significant that top of his agenda was opening up the country […]
Large economies are like supertankers. There are no brakes to use if you want to change direction in a hurry. Instead, you have to put the engine into reverse, and hope you can slow down fast enough to avoid the rocks. That is what happened in China last month, as the new leadership began to […]
The Cycle of Deflation has taken another lurch forward. The reason was India’s decision to veto last year’s Bali deal to streamline customs procedures. Almost certainly, this will prove the dying effort of the World Trade Organisation, which sponsored the proposal. The blog is particularly sad at this outcome. It has always believed that free […]
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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.