Global metal markets are at growing risk from developments in China’s ‘collateral trade’, as yesterday’s post highlighted. Worryingly, so are products such as polyethylene and ethylene glycol, as it seems likely these have also been used as collateral more recently. This will be bad news for producers already suffering from slowing demand: China’s economy continues to weaken as the […]
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Iron ore prices on China’s futures market were at 5-year lows yesterday. Copper prices also weakened in Australia. This adds to the blog’s concern that China’s ‘collateral trade’ market is getting closer and closer to its ‘moment of truth’. This will come as an awful shock to most outside observers, who have been led to believe China’s vast imports […]
The last days of a bubble are always the most fun. And Alibaba’s New York market debut last Friday will be one of those to treasure and report to the grandchildren in decades to come. There were so many elements to enjoy: The investment bankers got the price wrong by 40%, but will still walk away with […]
Polymer traders must be already counting their end-of-year bonuses, as the value of the US$ rises whilst crude oil prices weaken. The biggest bonuses will likely go to polyethylene (PE) traders competing with US producers. The reason is that US ethylene spot prices are currently at record levels. An astonishing 10% of US ethylene capacity has been out […]
Nobel Prizewinner Prof Robert Shiller correctly forecast the dot-com collapse in 2000, and the 2008 financial Crisis, using the chart above. Now he is warning we risk a 3rd collapse. The problem is that Western central banks have undertaken the largest financial experiment in history. Their policy has been to boost financial markets, particularly the US S&P 500 - the world’s […]
The blog’s 6-monthly review of global stock markets highlights the narrow nature of the advance since September 2008, when the blog first began analysing developments. It shows their performance since the pre-Crisis peak for each market, and the performance of the US 30-year Treasury bond. Remarkably, only the US, India, Germany and the UK stock markets […]
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, […]
Nobody knows how the Great Unwinding of central bank stimulus policies will develop. The world has simply never been in this position before. Thus the senior economics and business correspondent of the Financial Times, John Plender, began an article this week: “In a market where asset prices are comprehensively rigged by central bankers, rational investment […]
Very large amounts of copper, iron and other commodities are in long-term storage in China as part of the ‘collateral trade’. More recently, it seems large amounts of polyethylene (PE), ethylene glycol (MEG) and probably other chemicals have also started to be used for the trade. None of this used to matter when the Chinese economy was booming. Why […]
Western financial markets are getting nervous that the US Federal Reserve will cut off their supply of cheap money. They went through the same panic in 2011. Now they again have to wait to see what happens. The chart of the new IeC Boom/Gloom Index above highlights the parallels: Markets were strong through April 2011, with the […]
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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.