Oil prices should be set by the balance of supply and demand. But as the chart shows, oil markets have instead become dominated by financial players, as pension and hedge funds decided to buy oil as a “store of value“. Before 2000, financial market volume (red line) had been roughly equal to annual oil production (green line). This worked well, providing physical […]
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Brent oil prices closed at $104.71/bbl on Friday 15 August. On the following Monday morning, I published the first post in my Great Unwinding series, arguing that: “The Great Unwinding of the failed stimulus policies since 2008 has now begun…oil markets are starting to follow cotton and other commodities in refocusing on the fundamentals of supply and […]
Just 10 years ago, then BP CEO John Browne shocked the oil industry by suggesting that oil prices might “temporarily” rise to $40/bbl due to an imbalance of supply and demand, before falling back below $35/bbl again. Of course, prices in fact moved much higher, as policymaker stimulus in first the US and then the […]
Our 13th annual World Aromatics & Derivatives Conference takes place in Berlin next week. Jointly organised as always by International eChem and ICIS, it features a must-hear list of speakers: ExxonMobil: Europe Business Director Tim Stedman will give a global market overview Dow Chemical: Global Business Director Pieter Platteeuw will discuss the future for benzene […]
Could Japan actually go bankrupt at some point in the future? This was the question left hanging in the air after Friday’s panic at the Bank of Japan, when its Governor forced through his new stimulus policy on a 5 – 4 vote. Financial markets’ first reaction was to assume this was a coup de théâtre on […]
Yesterday’s post described how OPEC oil producers are seeing their export sales to the US start to disappear. But this, of course, is only one side of the story. As the chart from the Wall Street Journal shows, Saudi needs a $93/bbl oil price to balance its budget. Most of OPEC needs a higher price. Only Kuwait, UAE and Qatar need […]
The world now faces a supply glut in almost every source of energy, including oil, gas and coal. It is also seeing major increases in output of key products including gasoline, diesel and petrochemicals. Yet as the International Energy Agency has warned, “the recent slowdown in demand growth is nothing short of remarkable.” The blog is therefore launching today a 3-part series […]
The Great Unwinding of the central banks stimulus policies is underway, as discussed last week. Oil markets have been one of the first to feel the change, as the chart shows, with prices finally falling out of the ‘triangle’ shape built up since 2008. The value of the US$, interest rates and the S&P 500 […]
There is an alarming naivety about Western policymakers’ response to events in the Ukraine. They have simply chosen not to recognise that Russia’s strategic objectives are no longer about building links with Europe, but are instead about creating a Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Thus they assume that Russia will always put its economic interests ahead of its political objectives. And […]
As discussed yesterday, energy markets are now going through major change. Many of the investment banks who led the move to higher prices post-2008 are closing their commodity trading desks and withdrawing from the markets. Equally, the physical traders recognise that trying to push prices higher, without a real geopolitical threat, is like trying to push water uphill. […]
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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.