There are some signs of a recovery in some markets, but the overall picture is still very quiet for what should be the seasonally strongest quarter of the year for the West. Markets should also have been strong in Asia, in the run-up to this week’s Lunar New Year (LNY), but they have remained relatively […]
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An astonishing coup appears to have begun 10 days ago, in the last 45 minutes of trading in US oil markets. Yet we still don’t know who master-minded it, or their full objectives. . What happened to oil prices? Prices jumped 8% in the last 45 minutes of trading on Friday 30 January, taking Brent to $53/bbl and […]
Many readers have been taking a well-earned break over the past few weeks. As usual, therefore, the blog is highlighting key posts during August, to help you catch up as you return to the office. Economic outlook: Great Unwinding of stimulus underway. Q2 results show slowing growth. US retail sales decline in line with incomes, […]
The Great Unwinding of the central banks stimulus policies is underway, as discussed last week. Oil markets have been one of the first to feel the change, as the chart shows, with prices finally falling out of the ‘triangle’ shape built up since 2008. The value of the US$, interest rates and the S&P 500 […]
Imagine that 5 years ago, you had been asked by your Board to forecast future oil prices. And suppose you had prepared a forecast which said: Oil demand growth will slow in the West, as cars become more fuel-efficient and ageing populations drive less Demand growth in the emerging economies will be supported temporarily by real estate […]
Oil futures markets are a wonderful thing, in theory. They are supposed to enable price discovery, whilst their liquidity is meant to enable companies to reduce inventory levels. Instead of tying up working capital, they can simply go to the market and buy what they need, when they need it. But the chart above, of US oil […]
It seems that cotton prices are about to return to normal levels again. The blog’s detailed discussion of the issues last September highlighted how current Chinese government policies seemed doomed to fail, at enormous cost to the wider world. It now looks as though China’s new leadership agrees with this conclusion. Since late 2008, the previous leadership’s […]
The blog was very pleased to see the Nobel Prize awarded jointly to Robert Shiller, whose words of wisdom on housing and stock markets it has cited many times. Shiller’s key insight, in his book Irrational Expectations and since, has been to confirm Ben Graham’s famous saying: “In the short term, the market is a […]
Strong aluminium markets have provided great support to caustic soda producers in recent years. PVC and construction markets have been weak, but volumes into aluminium mining have kept prices and overall chloralkali margins strong. Now this may be about to change. As the blog noted in March, aluminium prices have been supported by the behaviour of […]
Since 1900, as the chart shows, oil prices have never been so high for so long as now. Until 2003, they had only been above $30/bbl for 4 years between 1979-1982, during the OPEC production cuts in the Iran crisis. But since 2004, they have been continuously above this level. The reason is the misguided […]
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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.