US auto sales last year at 10.4 million were the worst since 1982. Even this figure was slightly artificial, due to the support provided by the $3bn ‘cash for clunkers’ programme in the summer. This impact can be seen in the chart, with total volumes (black line) picking up again in December under the impact […]
The Financial Times’ Investment Editor argues this week that “there is no point in forecasting stock market performance to the last digit“. Instead it presents 3 scenarios for 2010: • Standard Bear Market. This view suggests that the current rally is “the normal adjustment after a market crash“. After the rally ends, we will then […]
The IeC Boom/Gloom Index remains cautious as we enter the New Year. Meant to track sentiment in financial markets, it shows clearly that talk of ‘green shoots’ (green line) leading to a quick recovery has virtually stopped. Whilst the reading for ‘frugal’ (red line) steadied, as we went into the Christmas period. The Index itself […]
Extended downturns, of the type that we are now suffering, generally mark a transition period from one set of business conditions to another. I look at what might be in store for us during this transition, in this week’s edition of ICIS Chemical Business. The analysis focuses on the key areas in the chart – […]
Over the past century, many parts of the world have seen an extraordinary increase in living standards and life expectancy. As the Financial Times notes, we used to marry at c15 years, become grandparents at c30 and die at c45. Yet whilst 15 – 30 – 45 is still the demographic cycle in the poorest […]
China’s bank lending has rocketed this year, as the government attempts to maintain employment in the face of a major collapse in vital export volume. New figures show it had reached $1.35bn by the end of November. By comparison, lending in the whole of 2007 was just $0.5bn. As the Wall Street Journal notes, this […]
The blog is now 2.5 years old. Readership continues to grow, both within the chemical industry and its investment community. It is now read in 121 countries, and 2735 cities, versus 89 countries and 1244 cities a year ago. Readers are also very loyal, with 23% reading it twice a week. Its readership covers all […]
OPEC’s Angola meeting lasted just 70 minutes yesterday. Before the session, Saudi Oil Minister al-Naimi noted that prices were at their target level of $70-$80/bbl, and called this “a perfect price”. However, the underlying supply/demand balance remains fragile. As the chart from Nomura shows, current OECD oil/product inventories are well above normal levels. Whilst today’s […]
P&G’s new CEO, Robert McDonald, has “warned of the risks to global growth posed by increased protectionism in the US and around the world, stemming from the global recession“. interviewed by the Financial Times, McDonald noted that 20% of P&G’s jobs in the US depend on their international business, which accounts for 60% of P&G’s […]
Paul Volcker was the last US Federal Reserve chairman who believed that a key part of its role was “to take away the punchbowl just when the party starts getting interesting“. He successfully brought inflation back to single figures during the 1980′s downturn, setting the scene for the major economic recovery that followed. Now head […]
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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.