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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When the US subprime crisis began, we were assured by the ‘experts’ that it was only a small problem, involving a minor segment of an otherwise robust market. However, the more one read about the situation, the more untenable this view seemed to be. Equally, we were told by other ‘experts’ that there was no […]
One of the benefits of writing this blog is that it provides the opportunity to research behind the headlines, and better understand what is really happening. Friday’s US payrolls report, which showed the first loss of US jobs for 4 years, is a classic example. Nobody in the chemical industry should have been too surprised […]
There’s an interesting indication today of the changes taking place in the Chinese economy. Bloomberg are reporting that Blackstone, the US private equity group, is to purchase around 18% of specialty chemical company China BlueStar for $500m. This will be Blackstone’s first Chinese investment, and follows the Chinese government’s $3bn investment into Blackstone in June. […]
This week has seen more downbeat news on US auto and housing sales. Ford said their total August vehicle sales were down 14% versus August 2006, and that their car sales were down by an amazing 34%. Toyota, who have been growing market share, said they were down 2.8% in total, and that their car […]
I first wrote about the subprime crisis two months ago, as it began to be noticed in the press. Housing represents an important source of chemicals demand, and so it seemed to have potentially major implications for the chemical industry. Since then, it has become clear that the crisis could have far-reaching implications, if not […]
The war of words between OPEC (the oil producers’ club) and the International Energy Agency (the rich countries energy watchdog), has intensified this week, ahead of the next OPEC Ministerial meeting scheduled for 11 September. Claude Mandil, director general of the IEA, told Arab Oil and Gas ‘the market has become aware’ that OPEC ‘has […]
You may remember that the Chairman of Sinopec, Chen Tonghai, suddenly resigned last June. This prompted plenty of discussion about whether there had been a disagreement with the government over the level of subsidies paid to keep domestic oil product prices low. Now, this morning, China’s Finance Minister, Jin Renqing, has also quit. There are […]
The report in today’s ‘Financial Times’ that Barclays Bank has lost ‘several hundred million dollars’, means that the UK has now joined every other global financial centre in suffering from the US subprime mortgage crisis. The news followed Friday’s 5% drop in the value of Bank of China’s shares, after it revealed it held $9.7bn […]
It used to be said that ‘if the US sneezes, the rest of the world will catch a cold’. Well, the US is certainly sneezing as a result of its subprime financial crisis, but the rest of the world doesn’t seem to be taking too much notice, as least so far. As Bloomberg comments overnight, […]
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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.