The Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair may come to be seen as a critical turning point, when the story of the Greek default is written. The then IMF head was en route to meet German Chancellor Merkel, when arrested in New York last month. He had been at the forefront of the campaign to pretend that Greece […]
Tag Archives | Eurozone
A thousand years ago, the Viking King Canute had himself carried into the sea by his courtiers. He was the most powerful king of his time. But by showing that he could not turn back the incoming waves, he hoped they would understand that he was not all-powerful. This is a lesson still to be […]
Q1 was a very strong quarter for Western companies operating at the upstream end of the chemicals value chain: • Plants were generally operating well, with few force majeures • Most importantly, the crude oil price jumped 20%. Many buyers had reduced inventory in December for working capital reasons. Then they found they had to […]
There seems to be gathering concern in Germany about the outlook for 2011. This is very significant, as the economy has done well this year, and business confidence is at record levels. Bosch CEO, Franz Fehrenbach, who runs the world’s largest auto parts supplier, has warned that “the rebound in commodity prices will put intense […]
The EU loans crisis began 6 months ago, when it became likely that Greece was never going to be able to repay its debts in full. Since then, Ireland has moved into a similar position. And there are expectations that Portugal and Spain will follow during 2011. Unsurprisingly, however, given the general lack of transparency […]
When elephants fight, those around them need to be cautious. And this is the prospect for 2011-13, as the Western countries try to force the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) to export less and import more, the so-called ‘rebalancing’ strategy. Thus Budgeting for Uncertainty seems the right title for the blog’s annual Outlook for […]
EU governments have spent enormous sums of money to support the economy over the past year. Yet in terms of a key indicator such as unemployment, the situation has got worse rather than better. This is bound to restrain consumer spending, a key factor for domestic EU chemical demand. Eurozone unemployment hit 10% in February, […]
Chemical companies face a clear risk of a synchronised slowdown in demand in all 3 major Regions during H2. • The US is hitting a ‘soft patch’ at best, if not a full ‘double dip’ • China’s demand seems to have already slowed. • Europe, sadly, seems to be following the same path. Not only […]
‘Sell in May and go away’ seemed a good tactic to the blog at the beginning of the month. It worried that we might now be approaching the ‘drawn-out fundamental downtrend’ phase of the current cycle. And in spite of several major ‘relief’ and ‘short-covering’ rallies, financial markets have continued to suffer. The US Dow […]
On 6 May, the blog warned that “it would be very nervous indeed about holding a long position” in crude oil. And as the chart shows, its fears were well-founded. Since 4 May: • WTI has fallen 19%, and $16/bbl, from its $86/bbl peak • The euro has also fallen 8%, and 6c, versus 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.