China has just reported its first fall in exports for 7 years. These were still growing at 19.1% in October, but fell 2.2% in November. The suddenness of the downturn is also shown in the import figures, which were down 17.9% versus 2007. The numbers confirm the blog’s long-expressed fear that China, and the Asian […]
Having no risk management systems in place may be better than having the wrong systems in place. That seems to be one of the lessons from the recent financial meltdown. The reason for this apparent paradox is that awareness of risk makes people cautious. But if they wrongly believe that all risk has been removed, […]
A long-standing industry friend sent me an email overnight about ethylene derivative margins. Only after sending it, did he realise that spell-check had decided to change the word “derivative” to “debilitative”. But as he noted in a follow-up email, “amazing the insights of a spellchecker – I meant ‘derivative’ but maybe ‘debilitative’ is more of […]
Yesterday, Dow announced its new structure post the K-Dow JV and the planned acquisition of Rohm & Haas. This covered two main elements: • Implementation of November’s cost reduction announcement • Dow’s new organisation (the chart above) The cost reductions were severe, with a headline 11% of staff facing redundancy. 20 plants in “high-cost areas” […]
The end of a major trend is usually marked by a significant increase in volatility. This seems to be what is happening to the equity bull market that began back in 1982. It has weathered a number of storms over the years, as traders kept faith with the underlying trend. But this week’s Barrons, the […]
London’s largely-male banking community has a new way to pass its time, now financial markets have collapsed. According to Lucy Kellaway at the Financial Times, many are prospecting for adulterous affairs on a website called Illicit Encounters. Lucy says she has “picked up 247 men” since joining – including “a formerly powerful hedge fund manager, […]
Two months ago, the blog noted that the credit crunch was starting to impact sport. Then the issue was high leverage, with the UK’s Football Association warning that the $5bn debts of the Premier League clubs were “high-risk”. Now, its the turn of Formula One racing. Yesterday, Honda pulled out of the 2009 competition on […]
A month ago, with WTI at $70/bbl, the blog suggested that: “If refiners are forced to cut runs for December, then it would be hard for OPEC to cut its own production quickly enough to compensate. In that case, a $20 – $30/bbl range for crude, albeit temporarily, would not be impossible.” During November, prices […]
The downturn is starting to impact politics all over the world. As an example, take the recent sequence of events in Canada: • In October, Prime Minister Harper increased his vote, but still ended 12 seats short of a majority, after calling an early General Election • Last week, the opposition parties united against his […]
Sometimes a headline says it all. Today’s in the Financial Times, “Markets braced for big European rate cuts”, showed just how far we have travelled since the first signs of global financial crisis in August last year. Then, a co-ordinated round of interest rate cuts would have sent stock markets soaring. Now, they are taken […]
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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.