China’s reported 7.4% GDP growth for 2014 was the lowest in 25 years. But even so, it probably still overstates the true economic position. How could China possibly produce a final fiigure for GDP within just 20 days of 2015? Electricity consumption, as Premier Li has advised in the past, is a far more reliable guide to the actual […]
Tag Archives | demographic deficit
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 […]
The Cycle of Deflation has taken another lurch forward. The reason was India’s decision to veto last year’s Bali deal to streamline customs procedures. Almost certainly, this will prove the dying effort of the World Trade Organisation, which sponsored the proposal. The blog is particularly sad at this outcome. It has always believed that free […]
Markets appear to be continuing to move, slowly but surely, into their expected ‘scary phase’. The reason is the massive distortions that have been created in financial markets, and in China’s housing market, by the $35tn+ of stimulus from governments and central banks since 2009. Unwinding these distortions will not be simple. The stimulus has not returned us […]
Just as forecast in March, world cotton prices have crashed. Prices peaked at 97.35c/lb on 24 March, just 3 days after the post was published. Since then, they have fallen by a third to 65c/lb. They have now fallen for 11 straight weeks – the longest slump in 55 years, according to Bloomberg. There is no need to repeat […]
A year ago, European policymakers and central bankers were dismissive when the blog suggested deflation was a far bigger threat than inflation – when it was speaking at the world’s major conference for bond investors. Later this month, the blog expects a different response when returning to speak at the same conference. Last week, the European Central Bank (ECB) was forced to […]
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 new article by an IMF economist makes the point that in April 2008, not a single one of the mainstream economic forecasts covered by ‘Consensus Economics’ was forecasting a recession in 2009. The IMF itself expected growth to continue, as did the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development. Even by […]
Government bonds in the larger, wealthy countries of the West have traditionally been regarded as being “risk-free”. Most countries have failed to pay their debts at some time in the past, but it hasn’t happened in the post-War period for the major economies, and so investors have forgotten this can happen. This situation may well change […]
Monday’s Interesting Quotes post highlighted how China’s leadership clearly recognise they have a massive debt problem, as detailed in the blog’s recent Research Note. Further evidence for this was provided by yesterday’s bank lending figures, which showed total lending down 19% versus March 2013 at Rmb2.07tn ($333bn), and the lowest increase in money supply since 2001. This makes […]
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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.