Asian naphtha spreads versus crude oil have fallen to all-time lows. Dubai crude was reported at c$80/bbl last week, whilst naphtha was $30/bbl lower, at a price of only $50/bbl. This shows an extreme lack of demand for naphtha, and hence for petrochemicals. In turn, this is a leading indicator of economic downturn. ICIS news […]
On Monday, governments announced c$3.5 trillion of recapitalisation and capital injection into the global banking system. One would have then expected the major investment institutions to rally round in support. But on Wednesday, they conspicuously failed to do this. Instead they argued that the taxpayer should provide yet more money, in the form of dividends […]
OPEC has called an emergency meeting for 18 November to discuss measures to combat collapsing oil prices. But as the blog noted last week, by then they could be looking to defend $50/bbl. And it seems Saudi Arabia agrees. Market reports suggest ‘the world’s top oil exporter has already started cutting oil supplies to European […]
In August, the blog welcomed the statement by UK Finance Minister, Alistair Darling, that the ‘global economy was at a 60-year low’. It noted that he was ‘the first western politician to abandon reassurance and instead to focus on the reality of current problems’. But it still took until last weekend before all the relevant […]
Sir Fred Goodwin, CEO of RBS, was one of the poster boys of the new banking model. Along with his peer group, he preached the virtues of the ‘efficient balance sheet’. Equity was for wimps. The blog warned over a year ago that the ‘seeming genius’ in recent years of people such as Sir Fred […]
The UK’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper reports that ‘Ineos, the chemicals group which is one of Britain’s biggest private companies, is considering selling assets in an effort to reduce its debt burden’. It adds that ‘the company, which has expanded rapidly through debt-fuelled acquisitions, is understood to be looking at disposing of a number of businesses […]
Finally, as the blog noted with relief last week, there is a workable plan on the table to rescue the global banking system. On Saturday, the IMF warned of potential ‘meltdown’ if the plan was not approved. In the blog’s view, they were right to do so. Yesterday’s EU meeting could not afford petty politics […]
You’re looking at the man who, according to today’s New York Times, is now responsible for ‘choosing which US financial institutions live, and which die’. He’s 35, and the assistant Treasury secretary for financial stability, Neel T Kashkari. His qualifications? He used to be a banker at Goldman Sachs, and is 6 years out of […]
It is nearly time for the blog’s annual forecast of chemical industry prospects. Of course, past performance is not necessarily a guide to future outcomes. But it is one of the better guides that we have. So before publishing the forecast next weekend, it makes sense to assess the blog’s credibility by looking back at […]
Ratings agency S&P warn today that a major recession might force the 3 top US carmakers to file for bankruptcy. Clearly they share JD Power’s fears, noted yesterday, about the potential for an ‘outright collapse’ in global auto markets. S&P says operating cash-flow needs at the firms are ‘substantial’, and adds that they face a […]
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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.