One can only feel sorry for China’s government leaders. A year ago, they faced 23m unemployed, as their export markets collapsed in the West. In order to avoid major social unrest, they opted to unleash what the Wall Street Journal called “one of the biggest credit expansions in history“. $1.4trn was lent during 2009, in […]
ICIS have now published the blog’s 2010 Budget webinar as a White Paper. Please click here if you would like to obtain a free copy. My thanks go to Nigel Davis for his editing skills, and to Jamie Barnes for masterminding publication.
SOURCE: WWW.CHARTOFTHEDAY.COMUS consumers were responsible for 16% of total world GDP in 2008. But their spending is taking a battering from the combination of high unemployment and high oil prices. Both are reducing end-user demand for chemical products. New government estimates suggest US employment has fallen by 8.4m jobs since the downturn started in December […]
In August, Toyota (red line) briefly replaced GM (blue) as the US industry leader. Last month, however, its recall problems meant its sales fell 16% versus last January, an even worse performance than Chrysler (purple). Toyota’s problems are generally bad news for the industry, as they will inevitably impact overall public perceptions. Some will suspect […]
Its nearly 18 months since the US government nationalised the 2 home loan giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, at the start of the September 2008 financial crisis. Today, their current obligations amount to $3.7trn – larger that the total UK economy. And the Wall Street Journal notes that their cumulative losses on home loans […]
There has been no New Year recovery for the IeC Boom/Gloom Index. It (blue column) slipped again last month, and is now back at September’s level. A further fall in February would take it close to the levels seen before the dramatic rally in financial markets that began last March. Equally, the Green Shoots spotted […]
The oil market rally seems finally to be running out of steam. For months now, it has been driven by the ‘correlation trade’, whereby Wall Street traders sell the US$ and buy crude oil. But as the chart shows, the two lines have now begun to diverge. Fundamentals have clearly started to affect the €:$ […]
The above chart, based on data from the excellent weekly American Chemistry Council report, highlights the changes in chemical production over the past year. November saw world production (black line) finally turn positive again versus the previous 12 months, for the first time since August 2008. For an industry used to steady growth in line […]
European consumers remain very wary about the future. The slide above, from the monthly CEFIC report, shows that fear of unemployment is THE major concern. Almost half the population, a net balance of 44.3%, worried about this in December (yellow column), only slightly fewer than in November (blue column). This concern creates a major headwind […]
The US government used to depend on China to fund its deficit. In 2006, China bought 47.4% of all US bonds issued. But last year, as the chart from the NY Times shows, China bought just 4.6%, leaving US investors to buy the rest. This is a yet another indicator of the profound changes underway […]
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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.