Chemical companies are still getting used to the idea that crude is trading above $100/bbl. For many of them, this was a complete shock, as many had believed the consensus view and budgeted for a $70/bbl average in 2008. Now, however, worse news is in prospect as forward prices have been racing away this week. […]
Increases in Russian oil supply have played a major role in balancing world oil markets, at a time when other non-OPEC sources such as the N Sea have been declining. Production rose from 6.2mbd in 1999 to 9.6mbd by 2006. But as I noted last month, there are signs it may now have peaked. The […]
For years, former US Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan said that it was impossible to recognise an ‘asset bubble’ until after it had burst. Thus the dot-com bubble, and the US housing bubble, were able to grow without central bank interference. Now however, Fed Governor Frederic Mishkin has broken ranks and provided this detailed description of […]
Oil markets could become more volatile again, on news today that Saudi is to pump an extra 3000kbd of oil in June. Other Gulf States including Kuwait and UAE may follow its lead.
Every 3 months, the Bank of England publishes its Inflation Report. This is packed with useful charts and commentary on just about every aspect of the world economy. It also normally includes the Bank’s own indicator of where UK house prices are headed. This is based on surveys by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, […]
Yesterday the UK public had a rare view of what the government really thinks about future house price trends. Photographers snapped Housing Minister Caroline Flint arriving for a Cabinet meeting. And then journalists went to work on reading the notes in her hand. Contrary to official statements, it seems that the government expects ‘sizeable falls […]
Headline interest rates are set by central banks. But the ones that we actually pay, as consumers or companies, are set by the banks themselves. And most of these are based on LIBOR – the London Inter-Bank Offer Rate – which is the main benchmark for $347 trillion of borrowing around the world. Now it […]
The chemical industry moves a lot of product by ship. Recent rises in freight rates have therefore had a major impact on costs for producers and consumers. But there was always the thought that rates would soon decline, once shipbuilders began delivering all the new ships on order. But now Bloomberg is suggesting that 10% […]
A month ago, I suggested that oil prices ‘seem set to move higher in the short-term, with $125/bbl now being talked as a target’. Readers were hopefully not too surprised, therefore, to see prices for Brent and WTI close at this level on Friday night. One of my longer-term forecasts also seems to be coming […]
Mark Twain’s famous quote rather sums up my current feelings about the state of the US economy. This is the most important single indicator of future chemical industry sales. And a couple of months ago, I aligned myself with Warren Buffett in suggesting that the US was probably in recession. Last week, this looked like […]
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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.