If something seems to be ‘too good to be true’, then it usually is. This may be the learning for the world’s largest pension funds, as they plan their next moves in commodity investment. Their involvement jumped from 2009 after central banks began stimulus programmes, as the blog discussed last month. The funds were looking […]
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Cotton prices, as the chart shows, have returned to the 50c-70c/lb range that has dominated since 1982. This proves, once again, that ‘reversion to the mean’ is usually the best investment strategy. Sadly, however, it is the people who did not believe the hype around higher prices who will have to pick up the pieces, […]
Once upon a time, financial markets reflected supply and demand balances. Some players, the speculators, would use them to try and anticipate changes in these balances. Some players, the producers and consumers, used them to help stabilise their margins. From time to time, the balance between the stabilisers and the speculators would be lost. Markets […]
6 months ago, when reporting Q1 results, the blog strongly disagreed with the rosy outlook being offered by most analysts. It warned then that: “The history of the past 40 years shows high oil prices have always led to: • An initial boom in volumes/margin as buyers rush to secure supplies • Then a period […]
Europe’s polyethylene (PE) trade presents a fascinating patchwork, based on its geographic and historical trading position, overlaid with its multi-ownership structure. This is highlighted in the above chart (based based on trade data for the January-August period from Global Trade Information Services, the leading global supplier). It shows net trade (exports less imports) for the […]
Long-standing readers will remember that then-UK Finance Minister Alastair Darling was the first Western politician to recognise in August 2008 the disaster that was about to hit financial markets. Now out of office, his warning today therefore deserves the widest possible discussion around the world: “I despair of the way in which EU leaders are […]
It is 5 months since the blog launched its IeC Downturn Alert, using prices from 29 April. It wrote then that: “They don’t ring bells at market turning points. Otherwise, we could all retire to the Bahamas.” But its argument was that a peak was likely, as crude oil had remained stable at $125/bbl for […]
Our 10th European Aromatics and derivatives conference will take place on 22-23 November. Co-organised with ICIS, it provides an excellent opportunity for delegates to meet up and exchange views in the critical end-of-year period. It features the usual strong line-up of speakers: Patrick Thomas, CEO of Bayer Material Science, will talk about the outlook from […]
Last week’s New Normal seminar in Houston continued the success of the Singapore and Frankfurt events. It sparked lively debate about the major opportunities for future growth in the New Normal. These include: • The over-55 age group in the West – already 272m in number • Those millions emerging from poverty in the East […]
The brave new world of modern finance continues to amaze the blog. It still has problems with the idea that the answer to having too much debt is to borrow some more. But last week’s Eurozone summit not only did this (as noted by the German central bank), but added a new element. Its new […]
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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.