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 […]
US housing is still limping along the bottom. December’s housing starts were only 0.2% above 2008 levels. Overall, 2009 saw just 554k starts, the lowest level for 50 years, despite the support of the $8k tax credit. During the Boom period, as the ACC’s chart above shows, starts (blue line) peaked at a 2.2 million […]
Sometimes, a picture is worth 1000 words. That’s the case with this photo (used by most of the world’s major news media), showing President Obama with former US Fed Governor Paul Volcker by his side. Volcker’s re-emergence is the first real sign of a serious shift in policy towards the financial sector. And the blog […]
Will Beacham of ICIS interviewed me yesterday in London’s Trafalgar Square. Please click above if you would like to see the discussion. Or click here if you would like to see Will’s summary on ICIS news.
Greece’s problems are getting worse, not better. And there seems no obvious solution to them. Does this matter to the chemical industry? Yes. Greece may not be a major player in chemical markets. But it is a member of the eurozone. And so its financial difficulties could prove very disruptive for any company that trades […]
Last September, the blog noted ’4 tips for survival in the New Normal’. Now, 3 years of research by a team of UK and Dutch academics has identified companies that have achieved almost uninterrupted success over a 20 year period, and asked senior executives about their experience. As summarised by Stefan Stern in the Financial […]
The downside of the credit bubble continues to impact the UK’s Premier League, and the blog’s own soccer club, Manchester United. Today’s Guardian notes that United were bought by the US Glazer family for £810m ($1.3bn) in 2005, using £540m of debt. Since then, it says this debt has “cost United £340m in cash” in […]
Almost unnoticed, the EU became the largest regional auto market last year. Thanks to the support of scrappage programmes (particularly Germany’s €5bn scheme) it sold 14.4 million autos, compared to just 10.4m in the USA and 13.6m in China. W Europe continued to see higher sales than Central Europe, due to greater government support. But […]
The blog has come across an interesting example of the impact of China’s credit growth, courtesy of Merryn Somerset Webb in the Financial Times. She highlights a YouTube video (link above) which investigates the new city of Ordos. The old city has become known as “China’s Texas”, because of the recent wealth generated from 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 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.