The chemical industry is always a leading indicator of the global economy. One of the blog’s oldest friends used to be a central banker, and he made no secret of the fact that our discussions about demand levels were often an important factor in his overall analysis. So it is no great surprise that the […]
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Japan’s exports fell 46% in January, after a 35% fall in December. Exports to the US fell 53%, and to China fell 45%. This makes it likely that Japan’s economy will shrink further, after the 3.3% decline in 2008. It could soon become the first G-7 economy to fall into depression – defined as a […]
There is little justice in today’s recession. Countries that saved hard, and avoided reckless lending, are seeing their economies collapse as fast as those that spent as if there was no tomorrow. Thus Germany is now following the path already trodden by other export-oriented economies, such as Japan and most of the emerging economies. As […]
Restructuring will become an important issue for the chemical industry, according to John Verity, ExxonMobil’s polyolefins head. Speaking to ICIS news, he was downbeat about short-term prospects, noting that whilst some restocking is currently underway, “we are not likely to see any real demand until the end of the quarter”. Earlier, in his speech to […]
Alan Greenspan’s comments (below), led the blog to investigate how the world’s major stock markets had moved since their recent peaks. All, as shown in the chart, are now in bear markets. Stock markets often forecast economic developments 6 – 12 months ahead, and so this represents a negative indicator for future chemical demand. Also […]
August was a bad month for US auto sales. GM sales were down 20% versus 2007, Toyota down 9%, Ford down 26% and Chrysler fell 35%. This set the blog wondering about relative performance , and the chart shows the result. 2007 wasn’t a great year, with only Toyota (the red column) showing a sales […]
Its now a year since the blog started. Since then, 213 postings have appeared. It is now read in 72 countries and 620 cities (shown above). Most encouragingly, readership continues to steadily increase. Since January, it has risen a further 301%. The blog’s aim is to identify ‘the influences that may shape the chemical industry […]
A first visit to Cambodia. I’m here en route to our Asian Conference in Bangkok, and the picture shows the famous line of Buddhas at Angkor Wat. But the main topic of conversation when talking to local people is the high cost of food and energy. With wages averaging $30 – $35 a week, these […]
Chemical companies are still getting used to the idea that crude is trading above $100/bbl. For many of them, this was a complete shock, as many had believed the consensus view and budgeted for a $70/bbl average in 2008. Now, however, worse news is in prospect as forward prices have been racing away this week. […]
In an early blog last July, I marvelled at the contrast between the then upbeat nature of financial markets, and the gloom apparent elsewhere. I suggested that these two views of life couldn’t ‘continue to exist alongside each other for ever’, and suggested that whatever scenario came out on top would ‘have major implications for […]
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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.