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 […]
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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 […]
Blog readers can choose their favourite leading indicator this week. In financial markets, the US S&P 500 index continued its recent rally. If you believe the bullish analysts; a Greek default, lengthy arguments between Germany and France, and the need to expand the Eurozone bailout fund into the €1-2trn range ($1.4-2.8trn), are all good news. […]
Wall Street analysts have their bonuses to consider at this time of year. So it is no surprise that they are talking up the prospects for the Christmas season – the peak shopping period of the year in the West. But those involved in shipping goods don’t see the same rosy picture: • In August, […]
The blog will publish its fifth annual Budget Outlook next weekend. As usual, it is therefore time to review last year’s Outlook. Past performance may not be a perfect guide to future outcomes. But it is one of the best that we have. The blog’s 2008 Outlook ‘Budgeting for a Downturn’, and its 2009 ‘Budgeting […]
The great film comedy Groundhog Day saw Bill Murray doomed to repeat the same day in his life, until he learnt to become a better person. Sadly, financial markets have yet to learn from his example. Every quarter, the investment banks produce new stories aimed at pushing stock/oil markets higher. Then high-frequency traders make $millions […]
Yesterday’s Scenarios hopefully provided valuable insight into the challenges ahead for companies and individuals. They also suggest some Critical Success Factors for achieving a successful transition to the New Normal, as set out in the chart above: 1. Flexibility. This involves adapting to new circumstances and being willing to compromise rather than battling for an […]
The transition to the new Normal is likely to be painful and long-lasting. Future demand growth will be slower as the ageing Boomers spend less and save more. More regular and deeper recessions are likely to become a feature of the global economy once more, in contrast to the relatively smooth growth seen during the […]
Today’s economic situation is getting worse, not better. The blog believes this is because most policymakers still refuse to accept the wisdom contained in the Beatles’ ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ song on their iconic Sgt Pepper album. The Western BabyBoomers (those born between 1946-70) are the largest and richest generation that the world has ever seen. […]
Petchem markets are continuing to act as leading indicators for the global economy. The IeC Downturn Alert shows there was no September rebound in orders after the holiday period. October will have to bring a sudden, and powerful reversal of the downward trend. Otherwise Q4 could be very difficult indeed. Benzene, the blog’s favourite market […]
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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.