One can still rely on ExxonMobil to deliver positive results, even whilst the world is collapsing around them. Friday’s report showed Q4 chemical volumes down 20%, as a result of hurricane effects and destocking. But although earnings tumbled from $1.1bn in 2007, they were still in the black at $0.2bn.
The scale of the crisis in Asian economies becomes clearer, month by month. Exports account for nearly half of S Korea’s GDP. In January, these dropped 33%. Of course, January is always a slow month, due to the Lunar New Year, but these figures followed earlier falls of 19% in November and 18% in December. […]
China faces a difficult outlook, after the collapse of its main export markets in the West. Interviewed by the Financial Times today, China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, sets out a pragmatic list of “forceful” actions that are now underway. Most are Keynesian measures, aimed at putting money in the pockets of those who are most likely […]
Prof David Blanchflower, of the Bank of England, is not optimistic that the current recession will end soon. He notes that “few macro-economists actually spotted the greatest financial crisis in a hundred years”. And in the chart above, showing OECD forecasts for the UK economy during the last recession, he demonstrates that forecasters kept predicting […]
The credibility of some chemical industry CEO’s seems to be under increasing attack, due to their apparent failure to develop proper contingency plans in advance of the current recession. One example this week comes from the USA, where Jim Cramer is one of the most well-known business TV commentators. He suggests that Dow’s CEO, Andrew […]
A year ago, the International Monetary Fund rightly warned that the world was facing a “serious economic slowdown”. This week, it has updated its forecasts, and now “expects the global economy to come to a virtual standstill in 2009″. This will be “the lowest rate of global GDP growth since World War II”. As the […]
A month ago, after the collapse of the K-Dow deal, the blog suggested that Dow would need to move quickly to a Plan B. It added that “nobody would be very surprised if it now sought to renegotiate the proposed Rohm & Haas acquisition”. This now seems to be underway, judging by two pieces of […]
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, now seems to be moving to Phase 2 of its efforts to achieve a $75 – $100bbl price range. As the blog noted in early December, the Saudis’ initial tactic was to play ‘hardball’ within OPEC. The aim was to ensure that other countries did not try to […]
Global chemical production is now falling at an alarming rate, down over 4% in November, as core demand from housing/construction and auto markets collapses. Only the Middle East is now seeing positive growth year-on-year. As the chart shows (using ACC data): • N America is now down 12% • W Europe/C&E Europe are down over […]
In early October, I forecast that we were about to revisit “the scariest moment of my 30 year chemical career”, adding that: “The moment the blog has long feared, and warned about, may be about to arrive. It appears that we may be about to revisit 1980, when for some weeks it seemed that demand […]
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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.