We are approaching the 2nd anniversary of the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus, which began in August 2014: The initial movement was very sharp, with Brent falling 53% by January and the US$ rising 23% by March Oil then saw an initial correction – with Brent recovering to being 37% down by May during the “oil […]
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First, the good news. It has long been recognised that the UK economy is over-dependent on financial services, and that its housing market – particularly in London – is wildly over-priced in relation to earnings. The Brexit vote should ensure that both these problems are solved: Many banks and financial institutions are already planning to […]
These are difficult times for companies and investors. It is becoming more and more apparent that central bank stimulus policies have failed to counter today’s demand deficit, caused by ageing populations. It is also clear that central bankers themselves have little idea of what is happening in the real economy. They have based their programmes […]
Thank goodness for Janet Yellen, and China’s provincial governments. That was clearly investors’ thoughts, when they bid up chemical company share prices during Q1. For as the chart above shows, there was nothing in the fundamentals of supply and demand to suggest economic recovery was finally underway. Instead, the latest American Chemistry Council data shows […]
China’s polyester industry, like many others, is already preparing to shut down ahead of September’s G20 Summit in Hangzhou, to reduce pollution levels. The phenomenon even has its own Wikipedia page, APEC Blue, to describe the moment in November 2014 when Beijing suddenly saw blue sky for the whole of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit meeting. It […]
Markets are becoming increasingly chaotic, as the world’s major central banks each try to devalue their currencies. They have created a traders’ paradise, with oil on a particularly wild ride. But this has not been based on supply/demand fundamentals. Instead, it has been due to hedge funds jumping back into the commodities market. They don’t […]
What we “assume” can make an “ass of u and me“, as the proverb says. And that is certainly true of the way central banks have manipulated the major currencies since the financial crisis began in 2008, as the chart shows of the US$’s movements versus the Japanese yen and the euro: It shows the change […]
It is 7 years since global stock markets bottomed after the 2008 financial crash. But as my regular 6-monthly update on their performance shows, it has been a very mixed picture since then. The chart shows how prices have moved since their pre-2008 peak in the world’s 8 major markets, and in the US 30-year […]
Financial markets are very bad at evaluating political risk. They assume people will always be rational, and expect a ‘business as usual’ scenario to continue. But as we all know, people are not always rational. And emotion, as today over immigration may cloud their judgement. This week has seen the first signs of this complacency […]
The Financial Times has kindly printed my letter below, arguing that central bank stimulus can’t restore growth to previous Super Cycle levels. Sir, John Plender’s excellent analysis “Central banks’ waning credibility is the real threat to confidence” (Insight, February 17) highlights the need for a new narrative to explain the economic slowdown of recent years. […]
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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 as 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.