“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 […]
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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 […]
As I have feared, major volatility is developing in financial and chemical markets, as the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus continues. The chart above shows the dramatic increase in the benchmark portfolio since the Unwinding began in mid-August: There was very little volatility from January until August, with prices generally remaining within +/- 10% Volatility then […]
Its been a fine run for the Boom/Gloom Index of financial market sentiment. Every time it has weakened, as in January, central banks have rushed to support it with ever-larger volumes of free cash. But the European Central Bank’s new €60bn/month ($65bn) programme doesn’t seem to be providing the same support for US equities as before, […]
Q1 was very difficult for many companies and investors. They had wanted to believe since 2009 that central banks could somehow control the global economy: The oil price would always be $100/bbl The US $ would always remain weak Central banks would always be able to stimulate growth in the economy Stock markets would always go up in the […]
What could go wrong in today’s financial world? Many stock markets in the West are hitting new highs, and central banks are promising they will do nothing to spoil the party. But as Gillian Tett of the Financial Times warned on Friday: “Before anyone gets too thrilled about equities, they should read a sobering research document from […]
Attention has rightly been focused on the collapse of oil prices over the past 6 months. These have further to fall, but the major part of the move must now be behind us. After all, Brent was at $104/bbl when I first forecast the move in mid-August, and closed at $56/bbl last night, so probably “only” has $20/bbl-$30/bbl further downside. […]
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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.