August was a bad month for US auto sales. GM sales were down 20% versus 2007, Toyota down 9%, Ford down 26% and Chrysler fell 35%. This set the blog wondering about relative performance , and the chart shows the result. 2007 wasn’t a great year, with only Toyota (the red column) showing a sales […]
A year ago, Tesco, the UK supermarket giant, were early to see problems ahead in consumer markets. Now, they see problems developing for corporate lending. Last week, Tesco paid €100m more than expected when borrowing €3bn. But Nick Mourtant, group Treasurer, still thought it a good deal. He said ‘the company wanted to raise as […]
This morning, the blog is awarding itself a pat on the back. This is because, almost alone, it forecast in mid-July that oil prices ‘could easily fall $50/bbl to $100/bbl’ in the absence of any military action on Iran. And it had the courage to repeat this comment on 4 August. It added that if […]
China’s Sinopec has taken a lead in reviewing its petrochemical expansion plans. Speaking to employees last week, Wang Tianpu, CPC division President, noted that ‘global crude prices may remain high and the petrochemical industry may become even more competitive’. Today, he gave more details, saying that they plan to lower 2008 petchem expenditure by 4.6bn […]
The US government has finally decided to nationalise the two home loan giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Readers will remember I forecast this would be necessary a year ago, in a letter to the Financial Times. I argued then that ‘a buyer of last resort, such as the Federal government, would probably now need […]
‘Deleveraging’ is an ugly word, and it has ugly implications. Bill Gross of Pimco, who manages the world’s largest bond fund, has done us all a favour by trying to explain its impact, and why it is likely to continue for some time to come. He notes that all financial institutions are now reducing the […]
The blog has worried in the past about the way that official statistics seem to be increasingly manipulated to provide a rosy view of the economy. Barrons, the leading US investment magazine, provides another example this week, in connection with the report that US GDP grew at 3.3% in Q2. Barrons notes that this is […]
There seems no end to the losses being revealed by the world’s major banks. The total has now reached $514bn. 110 banks and investment firms have now posted writedowns. CitiGroup, the largest US bank, tops the list with $55.1bn of losses, closely followed by Merrill Lynch with $51.8bn. Then comes UBS of Switzerland with $44.2bn. […]
A trend seems to be developing amongst the world’s policy makers. Last month saw China and the UK’s finance ministries warning of bad times to come. Yesterday, France’s finance minister joined the chorus, saying that she had ‘underestimated the spillover from the US financial and housing market turmoil’. Even more significantly, her boss, French prime […]
Many readers have been out of the office during August on a well-deserved break. I am therefore highlighting below the main postings over the past month, in the hope this will help them to catch up quickly on key developments – please click on the highlighted title if you want to read the original posting: […]
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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.