The global economy really isn’t getting any better. That’s the key conclusion from the blog’s quarterly survey of company results for Q2. Of course, some companies are doing well – either because of shale gas economics, or their own market positioning. But consumer giant Unilever summarised the general picture very well: “Market growth continued to slow in emerging […]
Tag Archives | central banks
The Great Unwinding of the central banks stimulus policies is underway, as discussed last week. Oil markets have been one of the first to feel the change, as the chart shows, with prices finally falling out of the ‘triangle’ shape built up since 2008. The value of the US$, interest rates and the S&P 500 […]
Large economies are like supertankers. There are no brakes to use if you want to change direction in a hurry. Instead, you have to put the engine into reverse, and hope you can slow down fast enough to avoid the rocks. That is what happened in China last month, as the new leadership began to […]
The blog found it hard to believe, when it started to research for Boom, Gloom and the New Normal, how little information existed on basic facts such as population size and annual births. Some countries such as the UK and Japan have data going back a century. But they are the exceptions: US annual data […]
Oil markets have been driven by speculative excess since 2009. None of the factors that were supposed to create supply shortages have ever occurred. Markets have never even been close to scrambling for product. And the rallies are getting shorter and shorter, as this simple fact is finally being better understood. Thus traders’ most recent efforts to create […]
Will 2014 turn out to be a repeat of 2008 for the US economy? 6 years ago, after all, not a single mainstream forecaster – including the IMF and World Bank – was forecasting a recession. Even in September 2008, the consensus was still confident about the economic outlook. Yet the National Bureau for Economic Research […]
Sometimes the blog gets lucky with its timing. That was certainly the case when it spoke to the world’s leading bond investors last week. Just an hour before, they had been shocked by news that US GDP had fallen by 2.9% in Q1, far worse than earlier estimates. And nobody believed the official excuse that […]
Sometimes its good to take a step back from the day-to-day markets, and focus on the bigger picture. Thus the chart looks at how markets have moved since the start of 2008 when the sub-prime bubble came to an end: Prices peaked in June/July 2008 as oil peaked at $147/bbl (blue line) and naphtha at $1147/t […]
We can all hope that China’s ‘collateral trade’ turns out not to be as big a problem as seems likely. But history shows that this type of problem has a way of escalating once people start investigating more closely. Thus state-owned Citic revealed yesterday that it has lost $40m in the Qingdao scandal, as half of its […]
The blog first learnt about the network effect in the late 1990s, during the successful launch of the eBusiness platforms CheMatch and then ChemConnect. Its Silicon Valley colleagues patiently explained that markets tended to move in predictable stages, once a new concept or product was launched: Everyone would initially jump on the bandwagon, not wanting […]
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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.