US new home sales began falling in 2005, when they peaked at 1.4 million a month. Last month, as the above chart from the ACC weekly report shows, they were down to just 337,000. Similarly, new home inventory has risen to 12 months. Each new home uses over $16k of chemicals, so this decline has […]
Last month, the blog supported former US Treasury Secretary Brady’s argument that ‘mark to market’ accounting rules were helping to worsen the current financial crisis. It therefore welcomes the decision by the US Financial Accounting Standards Board to revise its rules with effect from April 2. It applauds Paul Kanjorski, chair of the relevant House […]
Oil prices have been rising steadily over the past few weeks, and are up 20% since the start of the year. Yet US oil inventories have also been rising, and are now at their highest level since July 1993. Stocks have risen in 22 of the last 26 weeks. Whilst OPEC production cuts have certainly […]
Japan’s auto exports tumbled 71% in February, and its US exports fell 58%, causing total exports to decline 49%. Imports also fell 43%. Exports to China, however, were ‘only’ down 40%. And other NEA exporters, more dependent on Chinese markets, showed an improving position. S Korea’s exports were only down 17%, versus -34% in January. […]
ICIS Chemical Business has just published my article, ‘Low-cost operation key to survival’, which discusses business strategies for surviving the downturn. Please click here if you would like a copy. You can also hear a radio interview with ICB Deputy Editor, Will Beacham, by clicking here, or read Will’s summary of the interview in ICIS […]
Benzene is one of the most widely used, and widely traded, chemicals. It is therefore an excellent leading indicator of chemical industry supply/demand balances, and profitability. • A year ago, the blog noted that benzene prices had “hit a ceiling”, suggesting that industry profitability was close to a peak. • Then in October, when they […]
The IMF and World Bank continue to play leap-frog in reducing their global growth forecasts. In January, the IMF forecast growth would come to a “virtual standstill”. Then, two weeks ago, the World Bank said the economy would “shrink” for the first time since World War 2. Today, the IMF joins the Bank in suggesting […]
Human beings go through a number of stages when confronted by major change. As first described by Elisabeth Kübler Ross, the process starts with: • Denial that any change is taking place • Then anger at the implications of the change • Bargaining to reduce its magnitude • Depression as reality begins to be confronted […]
Its not just the World Bank that is concerned about the outlook for East Asia. Today, Moody’s (the ratings agency) says it has a negative outlook for the petrochemical sector over the next 12-18 months. It concludes: • “In response to weakening global demand, Asia Pacific’s petrochemical companies are rapidly shedding inventory and delaying their […]
The G20 represents over 85% of the world’s economy. And there is certainly no shortage of major issues for government leaders to discuss when the G20 meets next month in London. But the blog is not over-hopeful about their ability to make things happen. In November, the G20 promised “concrete policy outcomes” from its meetings. […]
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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.