Global stock markets turned in a vintage experience last week for those who like horror movies. Continued sell-offs in China finally convinced some financial investors, and some senior Western policymakers, that its economy might not be quite as strong as they had assumed. The ensuing panic led to record profits for the high frequency traders (HFTs), as the Dow Jones […]
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Crude oil prices continued to fall towards $30/bbl last week. Markets are finally starting to recognise, as the BBC reported last year, that ‘China fooled the world‘ with its stimulus programme. It had not suddenly become middle-class by Western standards in 2009. Instead, aided by developed country stimulus policies, its own stimulus had helped create […]
This morning, Greece introduced capital controls. People can only withdraw €60/day ($65) from their bank accounts. The government has also called a referendum on Sunday, after Eurozone talks on a new bailout package collapsed. The key issue is that Greece will never be able to repay its debts. These are currently estimated at €322bn ($365bn) […]
Credibility is hard to gain. And once gone, it is very hard to regain. That is the challenge facing the US Federal Reserve today. The New York Times is just one of the mainstream media now starting to highlight the issue, as last week’s Fed meeting led to a further deferral of the promised rise […]
My 4 May post was titled “‘Sell in May and go away?’ as US, German bond yields jump“. Since then, US interest rates have continued to soar and the US stock market is starting to wobble, as I discussed last week. Now emerging markets are in the line of fire. $9.3bn was withdrawn last week – […]
“If only US GDP growth could remain negative in Q2, what a lot of money we could make”. You could almost hear the excited chatter in financial markets on Friday, as news spread that revised data showed the US economy had seen negative growth in Q1. This is yet another example of the upside-down world […]
Since 2010, May/June has seen the US Federal Reserve start to realise it would have to revise its optimistic New Year forecast that economic recovery was inevitable. As its deputy chairman, Stanley Fischer, noted last August “Year after year we have had to explain from mid-year on why the global growth rate has been lower than […]
The Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus began last August with the collapse of oil prices and the rise of the US$. Of course, markets have bounced around since then – but that is what markets do. And in major markets such as these, there are also people with large wallets ready to manipulate prices in one direction […]
China’s interest bill this year is around $1.7tn, according to ratings agency Fitch. And no, the “tn” isn’t a typo. China’s interest bill is indeed around the total size of India’s economy, and larger than the economies of S Korea ($1.3tn), Spain ($1.4tn) or Mexico ($1.3tn). Common sense tells us that no economy can afford […]
Who would pay the bill, if Greece defaulted on its current €320bn debt ($340bn)? This is no longer just a theoretical question. Of course, we have all known since 2012 that Greece would never be able to repay its debt. But the EU covered up this hard truth by a ‘pretend and extend’ policy: The default deal deferred repayment […]
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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.