US unemployment has now reached 9.8%, and seems almost certain to reach 10% by year-end. In addition, 11 million people have either given up work, or have settled for part-time employment. Thus 26 million are now out of full-time work, 17% of the workforce. A rise to 10% would also mean, as Goldman Sachs note, […]
My first European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) meeting was in 1985. Since then, I have found that it provides an unique opportunity to look back over the current year, and focus on what might happen next. Thus in October 2007, just after I began writing the blog, my discussions led me to warn that we were […]
Sentiment is a very important influence in markets. When positive, as it has been since March, traders tend to ‘look through’ today’s problems to a brighter future. But at some point, reality needs to confirm this optimism. The IeC Boom/Gloom Index (blue column) aims to measure these changes in sentiment. It correctly forecast March’s turning […]
The probable ending of the destocking/restocking phase is a good moment to look back at what has happened to chemical industry volume in recent years. The chart, based on data kindly supplied by Kevin Swift of the ACC, shows how volume has moved, by Region, with Q1 2006 = 100: Global. Volume in Q2 this […]
The good news is that the IMF thinks that the economy may have stopped getting worse. The bad news is that it thinks it may be a long time before we get back to earlier levels of demand. The main problem is the ongoing weakness of the banking system. The IMF has maintained its April […]
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 […]
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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.