Markets have moved into summer holiday mode in recent weeks whilst they wait for a new direction, as the chart shows. It is therefore timely to look back over developments since the start of the year: The S&P 500 (purple) has been the clear winner, up 15%. The key to its out-performance has been the central […]
Tag Archives | consumer spending
It is now 4 years since the blog launched its IeC Boom/Gloom Index, as a way of measuring the difference between sentiment and economic reality. Its purpose then was as follows: “Markets are driven by two factors, sentiment and fundamentals: • Fundamentals can be followed by analysing hard data. In chemical markets, for example, key […]
The US jobs market remains very fragile. That seems to be the key message from last week’s monthly job statistics. And, of course, if jobs are hard to get, then consumer spending and GDP will remain weak. The chart shows the monthly jobs trend since 2008: • The number of jobs dived to 134.4m by […]
Today’s VUCA landscape (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) is having a profound impact on consumers as well as companies. All of us are grappling with 3 key trends in our lives: • Life is too busy, particularly for women juggling home and work • Technology has become too complex for most of us to understand • […]
Friday’s weak US jobs report seemed to surprise most of those Wall Street analysts who are supposed to understand this key subject. The reason is that they ignore the major demographic changes now underway. The chart above shows official US employment numbers since 1939 (blue column) and per capita disposable income since 1969 (red line), […]
Short-term pressures have come to dominate financial markets in recent years. In turn, they have become dominated by high-frequency trading, which frequently accounts for over 60% of all market action. Their trading is not based on careful analysis, but on extremely fast ‘black box’ computing, which generates ‘trading opportunities’ in micro-seconds. Their power is enormous, […]
Increasing life expectancy is an enormous benefit for today’s population. We can all, whether in developed or developing countries, expect to live a decade or more longer than our grandparents’ generation. Yet pension systems haven’t adapted to this change. The money we now save is still only enough to pay for a few years of […]
The world’s leading retailers have been extremely reliable leading indicators for the chemical industry, since the Great Recession began. They were the first, back in July 2007, to highlight the major changes underway in consumer markets. Tesco, the world’s 3rd largest retailer, warned then that they were changing their focus away from more affluent shoppers […]
Consumer giant Reckitt Benckiser sell major brands in 200 countries around the world. CEO Bart Becht’s views on the current state of the retail market are therefore very troubling: “In Europe, the situation continues to be very, very weak. In North America, it also continues to be rather weak. It is marginally better than it […]
Changes in US housing values continue to exert a larger and more important impact upon household consumption than do changes in stock market values“. That’s the conclusion of an important new study by the developers of the main S&P Case-Shiller US House price index. The chart above, based on US Census Bureau data, shows the […]
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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.