Crude oil and the major commodity markets have been a “fool’s paradise” in the past 4 years, created by the arrival of the central banks’ massive liquidity programmes. Pension funds rushed to buy, in the belief they would be a “store of value”. Hedge funds followed them as a momentum play, encouraged by analyst reports […]
Tag Archives | Brent oil prices
Crude oil prices remained at a record level for the second year running in 2012. As the chart shows, Brent prices averaged $112/bbl versus $111/bbl in 2011 (blue line). By comparison, 2008 averaged $97/bbl, or $102 if adjusted for inflation (red): • 2008 still holds the record for the highest-ever daily price at $144/bbl on […]
The battle between the major central banks and the fundamentals of supply/demand is starting resemble the battlefields of the 1st World War. The generals running the campaign believe (with the exception of the Bank of Japan) that today’s crisis is simply due to a lack of liquidity. They ignore the impact of demographics and the […]
It is tempting to think that oil price volatility is a zero-sum game. For every ‘winner’, one would expect there to be a ‘loser’. But when it comes to downstream industries like chemicals, the answer is more complicated, as Richard Bartlett, BP’s commercial director for aromatics in EMEA, discussed at Novapet’s customer event recently in […]
Since 2009, analysts have found it more and more difficult to explain oil price movements. They would like to believe these are driven by the fundamentals of supply and demand. But this is clearly not the case. Inventories all around the world are comfortable. Equally, supply continues to expand whilst demand growth is weak. They […]
It was a very good week for traders in oil markets. Guaranteed profits are rare enough these days, even for them. But the combination of Mario Draghi at the European Central Bank, and then Ben Bernanke at the US Federal Reserve, meant they could put the champagne on ice as soon as they entered the […]
The blog is extremely concerned about recent market developments. Nobody minds higher prices, if they are a response to strong demand and can be passed through to customers. But today’s high prices have nothing to do with strong demand. On the contrary, in fact. Most consumers are actually reducing output. Equally, the wider economic outlook […]
Trading volumes in financial markets are very low these days. Many ordinary investors are on holiday, and others are focused on the Olympics. So it is easy for the high-frequency computers to create major volatility – and large profits for their owners. Thus they managed to create a 1.5% fall in the S&P 500 on […]
The last few days have seen financial markets rallying, whilst the news from the real economy gets worse. US GDP growth in Q2 was just 1.5%. And the Wall Street Journal notes the recovery since 2009 has been the weakest in the post-War period. But that doesn’t matter to the computerised trading systems that now […]
‘Waiting for Godot’, the great play by Irish writer and Nobel Literature Prizewinner, Samuel Beckett, deals with the meaning of existence. Written just after the Second World War, its two characters wait endlessly for the arrival of Godot. US financial markets are currently staging their own version of the play: • They no longer see […]
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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.