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 […]
Tag Archives | central banks
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 […]
A year ago, the blog suggested that financial markets were reaching their most dangerous ‘melt-up’ stage, driven by investor complacency about the ability of central banks to protect them from any downturn. This analysis was confirmed in November, when absurdly high prices were paid for works of modern art, smashing previous records. Gillian Tett of the Financial Times (another of […]
Nothing has really changed over the past year. That seems to be the key conclusion from the blog’s quarterly summary of company results for Q1. A year ago, BASF noted that “achieving our earnings target is significantly more challenging today than we had expected”. This month, chairman Kurt Bock “warned the markets will remain volatile and […]
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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.