After destocking, and then restocking, what next? The blog is a great believer in following the insights of the major retailers, who have been consistently “on the money” in their analysis. Thus it takes very seriously the comments of Wal-Mart CEO, Mike Duke, who has joined the camp of those who believe we face a […]
Globalisation flourished whilst economic growth was strong. Jobs lost in Western countries were replaced by new jobs. Whilst cheaper production offshore kept consumer prices low, as well as bringing more people into the world economy. But today’s economic downturn means this virtuous circle is turning vicious. Western countries are becoming more protectionist and hope to […]
6 months ago, when the blog last reviewed global stock market performance, it thought it likely we would “continue to see major bear market rallies“. Coincidentally, 7 March proved to be a market bottom, since when markets are up a minimum of 36%. Russia is the best performer, up 108%, whilst China is the weakest. […]
China was the first major country to feel the impact of the financial crisis. In August 2008, it noted that “the era of low costs and high growth has come to an end for China, and an economic restructuring is inevitable”. Since then, of course, China’s export-dependent economy has meant it has been one of […]
Last year, OPEC meetings led to newspaper headlines. But today’s session in Vienna seems to have slipped off the radar. Yet the oil market remains as important as ever to chemical companies. As the chart shows, the prime driver for oil prices (blue line) is still the financial market. Traders continue to believe recovery is […]
Last April’s G-20 Summit brought together the leaders of the major world economies. Yet in terms of their announced goals for the Summit, financial regulation seemed to be the only one that gained traction. That impression is confirmed by the weekend’s meeting of Finance Ministers, in preparation for the next Summit in Pittsburgh later this […]
Today is Labor Day holiday in the USA. But sadly, the latest news on jobs remains deeply worrying. As the chart from the New York Times shows, jobs are still being lost (blue line), long after recovery had begun in downturns from 1974 – 2000. And far more jobs have already been lost. Total jobs […]
One of the blog’s major themes is that it fears the idea of a quick V-shaped recovery will prove wishful thinking. New figures from the Bank of England seem to bear out its caution. The slightly complex chart shows that net UK lending for mortgages (yellow line, then red diamond) has been falling steadily since […]
A key rule for any successful trader is that high volume is always bullish, and low volume is negative. The blog first learnt this when trading oil products in Houston, on secondment from the UK in the 1980′s. And it has proved an invaluable guide ever since, in a wide range of markets. The rationale […]
Further evidence of the trend towards a more frugal consumer comes from L’Oreal, the world’s largest cosmetics company. Like Procter & Gamble, it was slow to react to the trends identified by the major retail chains some 2 years ago. As a result, its profits fell 14% in H1, after decades of 10% annual increases. […]
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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.