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 […]
Harvard’s Prof Martin Feldstein is one of the very few economists who has correctly forecast the length of the current downturn. Today, he questions whether the US recession is really over, and suggests that “2010 is going to be a very weak year“. He believes that we are entering a more frugal economy, and notes […]
Financial crises take time to mature. Yet until the end is nigh, apologists will insist that nothing needs to change. Thus valuable time is wasted. Last year, Iceland was the obvious example of this problem. Now it is Greece, a eurozone member. Back in January, S&P had downgraded Greece’s bonds, due to debt concerns. And […]
EU auto sales continued to improve in November versus 2008, with total volumes up 27%. But as the chart from ACEA (EU Automobile Manufacturers Assoc) shows, they were still lower than in 2007. The difference between sales in W Europe, and in the new EU Central European states (EU CE), was quite dramatic. Sales in […]
The blog continues to believe that the current downturn is a transition period, at least in the West, towards a more frugal way of life. And its theory has received a boost from a New York Times feature which suggests this might be happening in the bastion of consumerism, New York. The NYT suggests the […]
“The most important ‘fuel’ of all, will be energy saved through fuel efficiency“. That’s ExxonMobil’s (EM) latest view of the outlook for meeting world energy demand over the next 20 years. And as Nigel Davis highlights in ICIS insight, this “will require materials and innovation – the backbone for the chemicals industry“. EM expect “40% […]
For most of this year, the banks’ trading houses have been earning vast sums of money promoting the “correlation trade” (sell the US$, buy crude oil, gold and equities). As a result, around 150mbbls of oil and oil products is now in floating storage, with much more on land. Next year, the same traders and […]
“The more things change, the more they stay the same“. Or, as the blog’s French-speaking readership might say, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose“. When the blog started work in the chemical industry, in 1978, it was possible to pay up to 114% of one’s income as tax in the UK, if one […]
The blog is delighted to see that the UK government has now allocated GBP30m to: “Equip Teesside to move beyond traditional heavy industry to realise its potential to be part of our low carbon manufacturing base. “This includes investment in redevelopment of industrial land and infrastructure. “It also includes investment to establish bio-based materials, to […]
Q3 comments from Tesco, the world’s 3rd largest retailer, confirm the picture of a more frugal consumer suggested by other majors. On the positive side, they report “a material improvement” in sales “in both Asia and Europe“. And Tesco expect “this trend to continue into Q4 and beyond”. But on the less positive side, CFO […]
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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.