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 […]
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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 […]
Do any blog readers routinely trade on the basis of Twitter comments? Or more specifically, do any trade within milliseconds of receiving a tweet? The answer of course is “no”, as readers have no ability to trade in milliseconds. But last week the computers did just that. As the Financial Times chart shows, the US […]
The blog was with the mining industry last week, when giving the keynote speech on The Impact of the ‘Demographic Cliff’ on Demand Patterns at the annual Metal-Pages conference. Mining is seeing similar demand patterns to those in chemicals, whilst the price performance of aluminium shows very similar influences to those at work in oil […]
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 […]
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 […]
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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.