Some extraordinary things are happening in global chemical markets. They indicate something is very wrong in the real world outside financial markets. The chart above highlights some key developments since 18 August when the Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus began: Brent oil prices have halved and are down 51% (blue) Naphtha, the main feedstock for the global industry, has also halved […]
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The blog’s new Research Note in the ‘Your Compass on China’ series highlights the way that China’s commodity imports have been used to finance its housing bubble. This is clearly a shock for investors, who have till now believed the imports were a sign of its superior economic policies and long-term growth prospects. The Qingdao probe could […]
“Not with a bang but with a whimper”. The blog’s 6-monthly webinar for the American Chemical Society (ACS) takes place next Thursday, 5 June, at 14.00 Eastern Summer Time. And once again, the ACS has kindly arranged for blog readers to register for it free of charge. As feared in last December’s Year-end Review, the promised economic […]
A political earthquake hit Europe in the European Union elections on Sunday night: For the first time since the War, mainstream parties were beaten in major countries In France, the National Front won 25% of the vote, with conservatives 21% and ruling socialist party only 14% In the UK, the Independence Party (UKIP) won 28%, […]
Whisper it quietly, so as not to disturb policymakers’ dreams. But the charts above from the Financial Times confirm, as if proof were needed, that their policies of the past 5 years haven’t worked. The charts compare trends in economic growth in the world’s two largest economies, the Eurozone and the USA. As the arrows indicate, both are […]
The Eurozone crisis has been quiet since the summer of 2012, as the markets waited for the German election. But now this has occurred, it is unlikely that the problem can continue to be ignored. It is easy to forget the drama of May 2012, when the blog correctly forecast a crisis was about to occur in […]
The blog is becoming worried about the likely outlook for Q2. Sentiment now seems to be weakening alongside the fundamentals of supply/demand: • Fundamentals. The start of 2013 has been a disappointment. Demand has shown some recovery after the low levels seen at the end of Q4. But there have been few signs of any […]
It is hard to be very optimistic about the demand outlook for Q2. Demand in Q1 was lacklustre, even though it should have been the strongest quarter of the year. H1 is seasonally strong, and Q1 also benefited from Easter being in Q2. Equally, the Chinese holidays fell in January, so February and March should […]
Yesterday saw the world’s largest ever sovereign debt default, when Greece finally carried through a €206bn ($272bn) restructuring. Yet only the eurozone leaders believe this will solve Greece’s problems and those of the other PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain). Greece is still left with a debt too large to be repaid. Its economy is […]
Europe’s polyethylene (PE) trade presents a fascinating patchwork, based on its geographic and historical trading position, overlaid with its multi-ownership structure. This is highlighted in the above chart (based based on trade data for the January-August period from Global Trade Information Services, the leading global supplier). It shows net trade (exports less imports) for 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.