Nobody can guess the outcome of the UK’s general election on 7 May. This is astonishing, as it is only 4 months away. Currently, it seems most unlikely that either of the main parties, Conservative or Labour, will be able to form a government on their own. Indeed, 7 different outcomes have been identified as possible by the […]
The bursting of the US energy bubble is looking more and more like a replay of the sub-prime bubble in 2008. As investor Warren Buffett has noted, “its only when the tide goes out, that you learn who has been swimming naked .” And nearly a year ago, former central banker William White warned the problems in the global economy were: “Worse […]
There has never been any fundamental reason for oil to trade at $100/bbl since 2011: There hasn’t been a single moment when a consumer failed to get the supplies they needed Inventories in the major markets such as the US have always been at very healthy levels And all the time, more and more production […]
Suddenly, far too late, the world is catching up with reality. Goldman Sachs and others yesterday halved their forecast for Brent oil to $42/bbl from $80/bbl. But this isn’t forecasting, this is simply catching up with events long after they happened. Brent, after all, opened at $45/bbl this morning. As readers will remember, I forecast back in August […]
Some extraordinary things are happening in global chemical markets. They indicate something is very wrong in the real world outside financial markets. The chart above highlights some key developments since 18 August when the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus began: Brent oil prices have halved and are down 51% (blue) Naphtha, the main feedstock for the global industry, has also halved […]
In March 2007, the Financial Times kindly published a letter from me arguing that the US Federal Reserve seemed “to confuse being market-friendly with being friendly to markets“, and had forgotten “The famous dictum of William McChesney, the long-serving Fed chairman in the 1960s, that “the job of the Federal Reserve is to take away the punch […]
US job markets have been very difficult since the Crisis began in 2008. In the past, it has typically taken 30 months for employment levels to return to their previous peak. But this time, it took until last September for the US to finally recapture the 139 million jobs peak of November 2007. The trend in the […]
Welcome to the New Normal. The Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus has led global oil prices to drop back to $50/bbl. Meanwhile China, the major source of demand growth since 2009, is now seeing a major slowdown. And, of course, this is still only the beginning of the great transformation that is now underway as we enter […]
The chemical industry continues to be the best leading indicator that we have for the global economy. This is because it is not only the 3rd largest industry (after agriculture and energy), but also because it is truly global and impacts virtually all areas of modern-day life. The chart above therefore presents a very downbeat […]
Oil prices have now fallen $50/bbl since I forecast their collapse in August. But it is only recently that companies and investors have begun to realise this price fall is real, and not just a minor blip. As a result, few have yet recognised the extent of the collateral damage that is likely to appear in […]
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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.