Companies and investors often say “we don’t need to think about demographics – its too far in the future to matter”. This might have been true 20 years ago, but not today. As European chlorine industry demand confirms, the truth is that “history catches up with us”. The reason is simple. Europe stopped having enough […]
Tag Archives | caustic soda
The US PVC industry is hitting new problems, to add to the post-2006 collapse of the US housing market. Yet only 10 years ago, it was riding high. Demand into housing (the main outlet) was at record levels thanks to subprime lending, and PVC production had just hit a record 7.3 million tonnes. Even after the financial Crisis, global […]
Chlorine and caustic soda are the bedrock of modern industry. They are used in everything from laundry products to pharmaceuticals. So changes in their business performance are a most valuable guide to what is happening in the real world in which we all live. The chart shows the detail of developments in the European industry, […]
What a difference 2 years can make. That’s the obvious conclusion from comparing US exports of caustic soda today, with those seen in the years to 2012. As the chart, based on Global Trade Information Services data shows: Net US exports fell 4% in Q1 (red column) versus 2012 (blue), and were 19% below 2013 levels Detailed […]
An accident waiting to happen is perhaps the best way to describe aluminium markets – the key swing outlet for caustic soda. Caustic soda is normally a late cycle product, with sales then focused on the mining industry. Industry leader Alcoa’s results confirm the disappointing trend. It lost money in Q1, whilst revenue fell 8% due to a decline […]
When was the last time you told your customers that they would have to wait 570 days for delivery of material for which they have already paid? You’ve never done this? Well, you need to take lessons from those super-smart people who own the aluminium warehouses, such as Goldman Sachs (pictured above by Reuters). As the blog […]
We all know that strange things have been happening in global commodity markets in the past 5 years. Central banks have been pumping out free cash, which has been used to fund speculative trading by many of the major investment banks. In turn this has taken many prices to new records. And this was all happening when […]
Chlorine and caustic soda are some of the most widely used chemicals. Thus their performance is always a valuable leading indicator for the wider chemical industry and the economy itself. So the chart above, based on Eurochlor data, is a worrying sign: Chlorine production is down by 1.9% in 2013, after a 2.9% fall in 2012 Caustic […]
Chlorine and caustic soda markets rarely lie about the underlying state of demand. The reason is not just because they have been widely used for over 125 years. But the production process is also relatively flexible, and can be adjusted within minutes to align with supply/demand changes. So the picture in the chart above of falling chlorine production […]
Chloralkali production is an excellent indicator of market direction in the short-term. Unlike petrochemicals, cellrooms can quickly reduce or increase operating rates. This is essential for efficient operation, as the price for electricity can change every 30 minutes. Thus as the above chart of European chlorine production shows (based on Eurochlor data), demand seems to […]
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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.