Its now nearly 2 years since the head of the European Central Bank (ECB) said he “was ready to do whatever it takes” to save the euro, and brought down interest rates in the weakest PIIGS economies (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Spain). As the chart shows, this statement had a remarkable effect in financial markets: Interest rates today […]
Tag Archives | European Central Bank
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 […]
A major debate is underway in Eurozone financial markets about the imminent approach of deflation. As the chart above shows, Eurozone inflation has ben falling steadily for the past 2 years. Yet most still fail to recognise that today’s demographics make this development more or less inevitable. The Financial Times has kindly printed the blog’s […]
Think back a moment to September 16 2008. Newly released transcripts analysed by the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times reveal for the first time what was really going on that day at the world’s most important central bank. Lehman Bros, one of Wall Street’s largest investment banks, had just gone bust. Merrill Lynch, another giant, had […]
Markets stopped operating in their true role of providing price discovery sometime ago. Instead, they became dominated by the central banks, determined to prove their theory that increased asset values can stimulate sustained economic recovery. They, of course, have the firepower to bend markets to their will. Nobody else could have spent $16tn in this manner […]
What would you have done 5 years ago, in 2009, if you had been given $16tn to restore global economic growth? Would you have boosted spending in areas such as education, health and infrastructure in the belief this would create a sustained boost to economic capability? Would you have cut taxes in order to encourage entrepreneurs to develop new businesses and promote […]
Back in April, the blog suggested that capital controls might remain for rather longer in Cyprus than the “few days or weeks” suggested by the central bank. And a month later, the bank was still unrealistically claiming they would be lifted “as soon as possible”. Today, the blog’s own view that they could be in place “for […]
Central bankers mean well. But, of course, good intentions do not guarantee good results. Their intention since the start of the 2008 crisis has been to boost financial markets. They have therefore provided $tns of liquidity, which has indeed produced record highs in major stock market indices such as the S&P 500 and Dow Jones […]
Western politicians have failed to take responsibility for managing the Crisis. And so, as the blog noted last week, policy is instead being made by unelected central bankers – principally Ben Bernanke at the US Federal Reserve, and Mario Draghi at the European Central Bank. They are clearly well-meaning, and in normal times might do […]
Last week saw the 20th EU ‘Crisis Summit’. Like the previous 19, it achieved little. Yet everyone at the meeting knew what had to be agreed: • A banking union which operates across national borders • The issuing of joint Eurozone bonds, guaranteed by all euro members • Adoption of a Federal budget and economic […]
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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.