Europe’s migrant crisis is creating a risk that the free movement of individuals and trade within Europe might be restricted. We take this for granted today, as the Schengen Agreement of 1995 has largely abolished border checks within 26 European countries – covering a population of over 400 million people and an area of 4,312,099 square […]
Tag Archives | Europe
The European petrochemicals industry is in crisis. Operating rates dropped below 85% in H2 2008, and have never recovered. Now there is a danger that it faces death by a thousand cuts. This would be a tragedy for the European economy, as it would imply the loss of tens of thousands of well-paid jobs along […]
Benzene has always been one of the blog’s favourite leading indicators for the global economy. The reason is simple, in that it has been around a long time, and is now used in a very wide range of industries. So it provides us with a broad-based picture of the global economy. The chart above highlights another important […]
Europe goes on holiday during August, so we have to wait – with not quite breathless anticipation – until September to see official ACEA auto sales figures for July and August. Unfortunately, they contained no real surprises. July (red square) managed a small increase versus 2012 levels (green line), but August sales then fell back […]
Good news about EU auto sales is always welcome, especially when it comes after 17 months of declining sales. Thus the blog is happy to note that April’s sales rose 1.7% versus 2012. Equally, however, it has to report the commentary of Europe’s auto association (ACEA): “The region counted on average two more working days […]
Readers outside Southern Europe may not realise the growing crisis that is developing across the region. As Unilever CEO Paul Polman warned in January, “the biggest issue in Europe is going to be social cohesion”. Similarly, his colleague, Jan Zijderveld, European head, warned back in August that “poverty is returning to Europe”. Zijderveld also highlighted […]
The world’s 3 major auto markets – USA, Europe and China – currently account for ~70% of global sales. And as the chart above shows, H1 performance has been volatile over the 2005-11 period: • 2005 was the last year of the US subprime boom, and the US (red) was easily the largest market with […]
Yesterday the blog discussed caustic soda, and the recent importance of China’s metal demand. Today it focuses on chlorine and PVC. PVC is the largest end-use for chlorine. It is also critical for chloralkali producers when caustic demand is strong, as recently. Chlorine itself cannot be safely stored in large volumes, and so instead they […]
US petchem producers are planning a major boost to ethylene capacity. They now have the 2nd cheapest feedstock in the world, due to ethane from shale gas. The only question is, where will they sell their product? Ethylene, of course, is very expensive to export. So derivatives such as polyethylene (PE) are the main way […]
Auto sales in the key global markets of China, USA and Europe present a mixed picture as we look towards year-end (red square): • China had a strong September, and sales are now up 6% versus 2010 • But the Auto Association claimed this was due to a last minute rush of orders caused by […]
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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.