The financial fallout from the Lyondell (LBI) bankruptcy continues, as the banks slowly begin to acknowledge their losses. According to Bloomberg, RBS has taken a $1.47bn hit, Citigroup $1.4bn, and Goldman Sachs $850m. UBS are also believed to have lost at least $500m. But like Bank of America (new owners of Merrill Lynch), they have […]
There is little justice in today’s recession. Countries that saved hard, and avoided reckless lending, are seeing their economies collapse as fast as those that spent as if there was no tomorrow. Thus Germany is now following the path already trodden by other export-oriented economies, such as Japan and most of the emerging economies. As […]
Restructuring will become an important issue for the chemical industry, according to John Verity, ExxonMobil’s polyolefins head. Speaking to ICIS news, he was downbeat about short-term prospects, noting that whilst some restocking is currently underway, “we are not likely to see any real demand until the end of the quarter”. Earlier, in his speech to […]
The emerging economies, which built their growth on exports to the West, are being badly hit by the global recession. Brazil, where poverty levels were at their lowest level for 30 years, is now seeing recent gains unwind. Its exports fell 29% in January, the biggest drop since 1991. This followed a terrible December, when […]
January’s US auto sales figures gave no hope that demand is yet bottoming out. Volumes were down 41% versus 2008. As the chart shows, the main pain was felt by GM and Chrysler, who saw sales down 49% and 55% respectively. A key factor in the downturn for both companies was a collapse in fleet […]
One can still rely on ExxonMobil to deliver positive results, even whilst the world is collapsing around them. Friday’s report showed Q4 chemical volumes down 20%, as a result of hurricane effects and destocking. But although earnings tumbled from $1.1bn in 2007, they were still in the black at $0.2bn.
The scale of the crisis in Asian economies becomes clearer, month by month. Exports account for nearly half of S Korea’s GDP. In January, these dropped 33%. Of course, January is always a slow month, due to the Lunar New Year, but these figures followed earlier falls of 19% in November and 18% in December. […]
China faces a difficult outlook, after the collapse of its main export markets in the West. Interviewed by the Financial Times today, China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, sets out a pragmatic list of “forceful” actions that are now underway. Most are Keynesian measures, aimed at putting money in the pockets of those who are most likely […]
Prof David Blanchflower, of the Bank of England, is not optimistic that the current recession will end soon. He notes that “few macro-economists actually spotted the greatest financial crisis in a hundred years”. And in the chart above, showing OECD forecasts for the UK economy during the last recession, he demonstrates that forecasters kept predicting […]
The credibility of some chemical industry CEO’s seems to be under increasing attack, due to their apparent failure to develop proper contingency plans in advance of the current recession. One example this week comes from the USA, where Jim Cramer is one of the most well-known business TV commentators. He suggests that Dow’s CEO, Andrew […]
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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.