‘ ‘A vicious circle now seems to be in place again, where a lower dollar inspires raw material prices to rally, which in turn increases worries about inflation’. This was how strategists at BNP Paribas summed up the US Fed Chairman’s two days of testimony to Congress last week. For the last 20 years, every […]
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China’s move last month to charge for plastic bags has now been followed by the iconic UK retailer, Marks & Spencer. Whilst the environmental angle is clearly important, the move also represents a reaction to higher oil prices. Plastic bags are not ‘free’ to retailers, and their cost is now escalating. Restricting this cost, whilst […]
Its not often that one gets clear statements from central bankers. Today’s comment from the Bank of England’s Deputy Governor that the credit crunch was ‘an accident waiting to happen’ is truly remarkable for its clarity. She also gives the best one sentence summary that I have seen on the background to today’s credit crunch. […]
BASF Chairman Jürgen Hambrecht sounded confident last week, following their annual results. 2007 sales were €58bn (up 10% on 2006), and income from operations was €7.3bn (up 8%). However, Q4 saw sales up just 1.6% at €14.7bn, and income actually down 3.4% at €1.6bn. The main culprit in Q4 was chemicals. Sales were marginally down […]
Quietly, oil has moved back to the $100/bbl level. This is quite different from January, when it first hit the magic $100/bbl number. Financial players had jumped on the trend from November as crude rose above $80/bbl, and then wanted to ‘get out at the top’. Their thinking was that a US recession would reduce […]
Very few non-OPEC oil projects have been financed in recent years, although market prices have risen from $20/bbl to $100/bbl. This is because oil companies and banks assumed that current prices would fall back to $40/bbl, or even lower, within 3 – 5 years. But a new reality has been dawning, summed up by Total’s […]
Chemical companies tend to trade on ‘open book’ terms with long-established customers. They are also supportive when those customers are facing problems in their end-markets. In a recession, these admirable qualities can become expensive. ICIS news reports tonight that the bankruptcy of Plastech Engineered Products in the US has led to debts of nearly $5m […]
OPEC’s decision to hold its production quota at last Friday’s meeting came as no surprise to the markets, which were busy taking prices down $2/bbl on renewed fears of a US recession. But it did produce a warning from the International Energy Agency (IEA) that OPEC’s policies ‘threaten the strength of the global economy’. The […]
China’s ethylene and propylene imports have surged in recent months, as the country has diverted naphtha to supply gasoline and diesel needs. ICIS news, reporting official China Customs figures, says 2007 ethylene imports were over 400% higher at 510KT, versus just 117KT in 2006. Ethylene exports also more than halved to 50KT in 2007, from […]
CEOs seem to be following CFOs in worrying about the impact of the credit crunch and debt crisis. The annual CEO survey by PwC of 1150 executives shows that fears of a downturn now top their list of concerns. US CEOs are much less confident than a year ago, with only 35% now ‘very confident’ […]
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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.