The chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, has issued a sober update on the current state of the US economy. Expressing his disappointment that growth this year “has been somewhat slower than expected“, he then listed a number of key problem areas: • “Supply chain disruptions” caused by the Japan disaster • “The […]
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The blog is excited about its first New Normal seminar in Frankfurt, Germany next month. It follows February’s successful launch in Singapore, and is being held in association with ICIS, on 16-17 June. The Workshop aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the factors that will impact the petrochemical market over the next few years: […]
Today, the blog is proud to publish the first Chapter of its new eBook: ‘Boom, Gloom and the New Normal: how Western BabyBoomers are changing global chemical demand patterns, again’ It is co-authored with ICIS’ John Richardson of Asian Chemical Connections. A new chapter will be published each month. Please click here for Chapter 1. […]
The blog is delighted to announce the title of its new eBook, jointly authored with fellow blogger, John Richardson. It explains how Western BabyBoomers are changing chemical demand patterns, again. We believe it will become vital reading for all those working in the global chemical industry. The first chapter of the book will be published […]
There has been a dramatic shift in cracker feedstocks in the USA over the past 2 years, as crude oil prices have risen. Many US producers have been able to switch to ethane feed, and as a result have become some of the lowest-cost ethylene producers in the world. As the chart* shows: • In […]
The blog spent much of 2007/8 warning of the likely impact of high oil prices on chemical demand. It was then renamed ‘The Crystal Blog’ in November 2008, as the full extent of the problems finally became clear. Today we are back in the danger-zone. The chart above shows annual oil prices since 1970 – […]
The blog has an incredibly loyal following around the world. 24% of its readers visit twice a week, or more. They also recommend it to colleagues. Visitor numbers jumped 50% last month.The issue is the rising uncertainty over the outlook for the world economy. This has clear potential to cause problems for the chemical industry.The […]
Crude oil has been a speculators’ paradise for the past 9 months. Central banks have been making large amounts of cash available at 0% interest. In turn, this has funded larger and larger speculative positions in financial and commodity markets. CME, the world’s largest derivatives market, saw volume up 31% in March vs 2010. The […]
The blog’s recent Asian visit revealed considerable anxiety about the state of demand in China. As its blogging colleague, John Richardson, has also described, the country’s lending cutbacks may finally be taking effect. New official figures for lending and electricity consumption support this view. These are two of the only 3 figures trusted by likely […]
The Financial Times reports two interesting facts: • Japan’s leading seismologist warned Tokyo Electric Power in June 2009 that “tsunamis of a completely different scale have come before” in the region of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. One, in 869, had “destroyed a castle“. But no changes were made to the plant’s defences. • The […]
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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 as 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.