Oil markets are entering a very dangerous phase. Already, many US energy companies have gone bankrupt, having believed that $100/bbl prices would justify their drilling costs. Now the pain is moving downstream. The problem is the central banks. Hedge funds have piled into the oil futures markets since January, betting that there would be lots […]
Tag Archives | European Central Bank
Central bank policy-making is becoming more and more dysfunctional, as German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble‘s comments highlighted on Friday: “The debt financed growth model has reached its limits. It is even causing new problems, raising debt, causing bubbles and excessive risk taking, zombifying the economy….and may have laid the foundation for the next crisis.” One clear sign […]
Financial markets are very bad at evaluating political risk. They assume people will always be rational, and expect a ‘business as usual’ scenario to continue. But as we all know, people are not always rational. And emotion, as today over immigration may cloud their judgement. This week has seen the first signs of this complacency […]
The Financial Times has kindly printed my letter below, arguing that central bank stimulus can’t restore growth to previous Super Cycle levels. Sir, John Plender’s excellent analysis “Central banks’ waning credibility is the real threat to confidence” (Insight, February 17) highlights the need for a new narrative to explain the economic slowdown of recent years. […]
Pity poor Janet Yellen, you might say. The head of the US Federal Reserve told the Senate last week that she had been “quite surprised” by the collapse of oil prices since mid-2014. And she added that the rise of the US$ was similarly “not something that we had expected” (you can see the testimony […]
The Great Unwinding of policymaker stimulus was the major issue in financial markets in 2015. And it is set to have even greater impact in 2016 once Phase 3 begins. The chart above highlights the astonishing changes that have taken place since the Unwinding began in mid-August 2014; Phase 1 has so far seen Brent […]
“There is no doubt that if we had to intensify the use of our instruments to ensure we achieve our price stability mandate, then we would.” (Mario Draghi, New York, Friday) Pity poor Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank (ECB). He is used to the adulation of markets – and adores his nickname […]
The excellent new Spielberg movie, Bridge of Spies, vividly captures the building of the Berlin Wall in 1952. It also reminds us of the excitement when the Wall fell, and European borders reopened after 47 years. Now, Europe’s borders are closing again, pressured by vast Syrian refugee movements and terrorist massacres. France, Germany, Austria and Sweden have […]
“If only US GDP growth could remain negative in Q2, what a lot of money we could make”. You could almost hear the excited chatter in financial markets on Friday, as news spread that revised data showed the US economy had seen negative growth in Q1. This is yet another example of the upside-down world […]
What could go wrong in today’s financial world? Many stock markets in the West are hitting new highs, and central banks are promising they will do nothing to spoil the party. But as Gillian Tett of the Financial Times warned on Friday: “Before anyone gets too thrilled about equities, they should read a sobering research document from […]
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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.