“Buy on the rumour, sell on the news” is one of the most reliable definitions for a weak market. And that seems to have been the picture in Q1 across commodity, stock and bond markets. The key issue is the ongoing battle between Reality and Illusion: Reality accepts that ageing populations have lower levels of […]
Cotton markets are poised for another testing month in April. The outcome will also have potentially major implications for the polyester chain – and in turn for commodities markets more generally. The reason is that China has announced that its long-awaited cotton auction will take place in the second half of the month. Cotton stocks […]
A paradigm shift is underway in global petrochemical and polymer markets, as I discuss in a new article for ICIS Chemical Business. Previously successful business models, based on the supply-driven principle, no longer work. As our new study, “Demand – the New Direction for Profit”, explains, companies now need to adopt demand-led strategies if they […]
Slowly, but surely, a UK vote to leave the European Union is becoming more likely. In any referendum, the Yes campaign (in this case called Remain) have to argue a positive case. But this is not happening in the UK – and the vote is less than 3 months away. Unsurprisingly, therefore, as the poll […]
Trillions of dollars have been spent on stimulus by central banks in the developed world since the financial crisis began in 2008. Clearly these policies haven’t worked – but they are now lining up to do more of them. In this interview with Tom Brown, deputy editor of ICIS news, I argue that their analysis […]
The warnings keep coming about the underlying health of the US auto market. But, as with the subprime housing crisis, nobody wants to listen: Last October, the US Comptroller of the Currency warned that some activity “in auto loans reminds me of what happened in mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the crisis“ Yet auto […]
Oil markets are entering a very dangerous phase. Already, many US energy companies have gone bankrupt, having believed that $100/bbl prices would justify their drilling costs. Now the pain is moving downstream. The problem is the central banks. Hedge funds have piled into the oil futures markets since January, betting that there would be lots […]
China’s move towards self-sufficiency is radically changing global oil and petrochemical markets,as I describe in my latest post for the Financial Times, published on the BeyondBrics blog Markets used to cheer when China’s exports rose, believing this showed the global economy was in good shape. They are still hopeful today, despite the 25 per cent fall in February’s […]
“The reality is the US from a chemical standpoint is a very mature market. We have some demand growth domestically in the US but it’s a % or two – it’s not strong demand growth,” Pryor said, adding that polyethylene hardly grew in the US in a decade. “That is not going to change. “The […]
It is 7 years since global stock markets bottomed after the 2008 financial crash. But as my regular 6-monthly update on their performance shows, it has been a very mixed picture since then. The chart shows how prices have moved since their pre-2008 peak in the world’s 8 major markets, and in the US 30-year […]
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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 as 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.