China’s perceived demand has been the major driving force behind the rallies in financial and commodities markets this year. It has also attracted large volumes of polymer imports. But this wishful thinking ignores the fundamental issue that China’s economy is relatively small (just $4trn in a world economy of $60trn) and is 104th in terms […]
There is increasing evidence for the blog’s belief that the auto industry is embarking on a fundamental shift in its approach. An interview in just-auto with Daimler’s R&D head, Thomas Weber, provides some important insights into the opportunities that may develop for chemical companies as a result. Weber notes that “cost, knowledge and speed” are […]
When the G-20 met last April, it issued a Communiqué containing just 688 words. Its Pittsburgh meeting over the weekend produced a Leader’s Statement containing 9292 words. “More” does generally not mean “better” when it comes to writing action plans. Instead, the document simply seems to be a catch-all of comments from the 20 leaders. […]
The blog believes that the landscape has changed during the current downturn. We came into it on the back of a major boom in consumption, supported by reckless lending and borrowing. This mind-set seems unlikely to return quickly. Instead, as the period of destocking/restocking comes to an end, we may face a “new reality”. This […]
Destocking is now well underway in crude oil markets. This is focused on the vast amounts of floating storage that built up in H1. According to a Financial Times analysis, April saw 56 ships being used for storage, versus a normal level of 5 – 7 vessels. 29 ships are still in use today, with […]
Last November, the blog suggested “4 tips for survival“, based on a Financial Times series on recession survival strategy. A new article this week on ‘Leadership beyond a Downturn’ provides some key tips on how to manage next steps: • Prepare for continuing downturn, but also for some growth to return. • Look outside to […]
Our 8th European Aromatics & Derivatives conference, co-organised with ICIS, has a number of distinguished industry speakers including: • BASF, Jaroslaw Michniuk, Group VP, Styrenics Europe • Reliance, Rajen Udeshi, President Polyester Chain • Shell Chemicals, Jonathan Forbes-Lane, GM, Aromatics Europe In addition, the blog will be presenting its thoughts on “5 Key Steps to […]
ExxonMobil Chemicals was 6th in the ICIS list of Top 100 companies in 2002, during the last downturn. By last year, it had risen to 2nd place, according to the latest ICIS list. One of the secrets of its success was set out in an interesting Bloomberg interview yesterday with Basic Chemicals SVP, TJ Wojnar. […]
Pity your poor CFO. As well as keeping cashflow positive, they are also coping with major US$ volatility. In July 2008 it was trading at $0.63: €1, but then rose 43% to $.80: €1, before declining 28% to $0.68: €1 today. The catalyst for this volatility seems to be oil price movements. As the chart […]
US corporate earnings were down a record 89% in Q1 versus the previous 12 months at just $7. Q2 saw only a minor improvement with earnings at only $8. Its interesting, therefore, to see market expectations for 2010. The chart is based on S&P analyst forecasts, and shows “reported earnings” (red line) are expected to […]
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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.