Speaking today, Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth Duke produced some doleful figures about the current state of the US housing market. She noted that 25% of sub-prime loans, and 13% of near-prime loans, are now “seriously delinquent” – either 90 days overdue, or in foreclosure. The serious delinquency rate for prime mortgages is now over 3%, […]
The blog has noticed a major change in dress code over the last few months. The concept of ‘Dress Down Friday’ has begun to disappear in both the chemical industry, and the financial world. Apparently this experience is not unique to the blog. Writing in the Financial Times today, Lucy Kellaway observes that “the casual […]
In December, the blog noted that Japanese policymakers saw clear parallels between the mistakes they made during the ‘lost decade’ of the 1990′s, and those being made today in the USA and other Western countries. The New York Times now has a fascinating article on this subject, which notes that: “The Japanese crisis of the […]
Last week, the blog spent 2 days at Wilton in the UK, one of the world’s largest and most integrated chemical manufacturing sites. It also contains some of the world’s major companies, including SABIC, Dow, INEOS, Huntsman and Lucite. The mood was downbeat, as one would expect with operating rates at historically low levels. Critically, […]
China plans to increase petchem production as a way of stimulating its economy. According to the China Daily, the government intends to allocate 400bn yuan ($58bn) from its fiscal stimulus to accelerate the implementation of petchem expansion plans. Bloomberg adds that the givernment could approve plans next week to increase “tax rebates for the exports […]
Yet again, as in October, ‘buy on the rumour, sell on the news’ has been the financial markets’ reaction to the latest efforts to solve the financial crisis. A 5% fall on Wall Street last night, in response to the Geithner plan, tells its own story. The blog is also unconvinced that this further $2.5 […]
Last August, the blog noted that politicians were beginning to wake up to the scale of the current crisis. There are still many politicians (and businessmen) who still hope we are facing just a ‘normal recession’. But last week, IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn told a Malaysian audience that “advanced economies are already in a depression”. […]
European auto sales fell 25% in January, according to JD Power. This equals an annualised rate of just 11m cars, the lowest since the early 1990′s. 13.6m were sold in 2008. And although the forecaster hopes for some improvement later in the year, it suggests that “a late 2010 recovery is the most likely timing”. […]
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 […]
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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.