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 […]
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 […]
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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.