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. […]
September’s IeC Boom/Gloom Index© is slightly higher than August. But the ‘Green Shoots’ level (green line) has fallen sharply, indicating that sentiment has become less positive about the staying power of the recent rallies in financial markets. The index now includes a new reading for “frugal” (red line), as this may be worth watching in […]
Many readers have been out of the office during August on a well-deserved break. As usual, the blog is therefore highlighting below the main postings over the past month, in the hope this will help you to catch up quickly on key developments – please click on the highlighted title if you want to read […]
There are clear signs in the above chart that the inventory cycle has turned positive again, as customers restock. Globally, data from the American Chemistry Council shows chemical production now down 10.5% versus last year, after being 13.4% down in March, in line with signs that GDP in the west is now stabilising. But will […]
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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.