Chemical markets are continuing to signal that the world faces major economic challenges in 2015. The chart above highlights developments since August, when I first forecast that oil prices would see major falls, and that the value of US$ would see ”a strong move upwards“: Benzene, always my favourite indicator for industrial output, has suffered worst, down 56% (green) Brent […]
Tag Archives | crude oil
Brent oil prices closed at $104.71/bbl on Friday 15 August. On the following Monday morning, I published the first post in my Great Unwinding series, arguing that: “The Great Unwinding of the failed stimulus policies since 2008 has now begun…oil markets are starting to follow cotton and other commodities in refocusing on the fundamentals of supply and […]
Next month’s World Aromatics and Derivatives Conference in Brussels has a range of top-name speakers discussing key issues for the markets. Co-organised as always with ICIS, it features: Shell: Global strategy manager Herbert Le Lorrain will present Shell’s new scenarios for the future, ‘Mountains and Oceans’ Bayer MaterialScience: New procurement head Christian Buhse will provide his first impressions […]
The above chart would have seemed unbelievable at any time in the past 30 years. It shows the performance of propylene and butadiene relative to ethylene. Not because it shows butadiene prices racing ahead relative to ethylene (green line). This happens routinely during a downturn, as tyre demand is more robust than for polymers. If […]
Oil supply is critical to today’s global economy. Now a new book by oil expert Daniel Yergin, author of ‘The Prize’, suggests that the outlook may be more promising than most believe. Pessimists such as Marion King Hubbert have argued that the world is running out of oil. Hubbert, for example, gave his name to […]
In an early blog last July, I marvelled at the contrast between the then upbeat nature of financial markets, and the gloom apparent elsewhere. I suggested that these two views of life couldn’t ‘continue to exist alongside each other for ever’, and suggested that whatever scenario came out on top would ‘have major implications for […]
Oil prices touched $100/bbl today, a new record in nominal and inflation-adjusted terms. At the same time, the US Institute of Supply Management (ISM) index signalled that the manufacturing sector ‘failed to grow in December’, with ‘industries close to the housing market struggling more than others’. All the ISM’s main indicators were negative, with inventories […]
The consensus viewpoint is an easy way of keeping up to speed on a variety of issues outside one’s daily experience. But the signs are that the consensus may be leading to complacency, when it comes to the assumptions being used to finalise 2008 budgets. There are a number of areas where some new thinking […]
Since posting yesterday, oil prices have moved further ahead, with WTI closing at $93.53. I have also had an interesting dialogue with Paul Satchell of ING Bank, one of the leading chemical analysts, who has kindly allowed me to summarise his comments. Paul believes that investors have become ‘dangerously complacent’ about the industry’s ability to […]
The war of words between OPEC (the oil producers’ club) and the International Energy Agency (the rich countries energy watchdog), has intensified this week, ahead of the next OPEC Ministerial meeting scheduled for 11 September. Claude Mandil, director general of the IEA, told Arab Oil and Gas ‘the market has become aware’ that OPEC ‘has […]
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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 as 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.