Oil prices last week rose to an all-time, inflation-adjusted, high in New York at over $92/bbl. Meanwhile food and commodity prices have continued their upward march. In China, the rate of consumer price inflation hit a decade-high of 6.5% in August. So why are we still seeing rates of around 2% reported in the USA […]
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The Bank of England correctly predicted in April this year that the risks associated with US subprime lending had increased, that credit risk monitoring was poor, and that markets should be prepared for liquidity to dry up in parts of the financial sector. It must therefore, as the Financial Times said, ‘have required some restraint […]
I recently had the opportunity to attend a workshop organised by Pilko & Associates with leading figures from the private equity (PE) industry. It was fascinating to hear their views on how the current credit crunch is affecting M&A activity. The days when some PE players were acclaimed as geniuses simply for loading up a […]
The ‘consensus forecast’ for 2008 is very optimistic, as I commented in my post-EPCA note. It says oil will remain at $70/bbl, that debt market problems will be contained, and that petchem margins will remain at 2007 levels. This is unusual, as the consensus is normally a base case scenario, with upside and downside variants. […]
I mentioned PetroChina in the very first blog entry, when the stock was trading at $155 in New York. It seemed to me to typify the new mood of confidence that I was finding as I travelled in Asia on the 10th anniversary of the Asian financial crisis. Little did I think that just 3 […]
Coal-to-chemicals just took a further step towards becoming a major source of chemical production once again. Yesterday, major coal producer Shenhua Energy listed on the Shanghai stock exchange, and saw its shares jump 93% to value it at $173bn. Shenhua is the world’s second largest seller of coal, after the US’s Peabody Energy, and it […]
It seems likely that this week’s European Petrochemical Association annual meeting in Berlin will mark a turning point in the petchem cycle. Looking back over 2007, Boy Litjens, CEO of Sabic Europe, told ICIS@EPCA that performance this year had been ‘excellent’, and that they would ‘definitely report the best results ever’. He was also hopeful […]
Dow CEO Andrew Liveris has spelled out very clearly his concerns about the impact of the US subprime crisis and high energy prices. He said that last week’s Fed Funds cut ‘flirted with danger’ in terms of the risks it took with inflation, although it was clearly necessary in order to tackle other problem areas. […]
A week ago, I wrote that it would be important to see if ‘the US Federal Reserve can pull a rabbit out of its hat’ at its meeting later that day. The dust has now settled on its 0.5% Fed Funds rate cut, and one can see that short term liquidity has certainly been improved, […]
Extraordinary events have taken place in the UK since my posting on Friday: • A bankrun took place on the 8th largest bank, Northern Rock, with lines of depositors queuing for hours outside its branches all over the weekend and Monday. • Faced with this, the UK Finance Minister was forced to announce that 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.