Since the start of the Crisis, many policymakers have chosen to look backwards rather than forwards. Instead of facing reality, the US has wasted $5trn on stimulus programmes and quantitative easing. Whilst China created a massive credit bubble by doubling bank lending in 2009 to reach 1/3rd of GDP. Yet in the end, demographics drive […]
Tag Archives | Japan
Japan’s ageing population has led to slow economic growth for many years. It has battled for years to try and boost domestic demand, with only limited success, as the chart of GDP growth from the Wall Street Journal shows. Occasional bursts of growth (green column) are only followed by more red ink. Thus the economy […]
EU auto sales are a critical market for chemical companies. So far, 2011 volumes have been stable, down just 2% in Q1 versus 2010. But the trend seems to be weakening, with March volumes at 1.6m down 5% (red line), as shown in the above chart based on ACEA data. The key worry is the […]
Finally, the authorities have admitted that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear problem is very serious, and still unresolved. Its rating has now been raised to 7, the highest possible – equal to the Chernobyl disaster. The picture, from the Wall Street Journal, shows the state of the reactor building on Sunday. Equally, the impact on the […]
Sadly, we still seem no closer to a solution to Japan’s nuclear nightmare at the Fukushima Daiichi plants. It is now certain that there will be no quick ‘return to normal’. Tokyo itself accounts for ~40% of Japan’s economy. And life there is already quite different from its pre-disaster pattern, with all non-essential lighting dimmed […]
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 […]
Sadly, the blog needs to update its March 16 post, which analysed the potential impact of the Japan disaster. Earlier hopes of a quick end to the problems have proved false:•250000 people are now in refugee accommodation•The death toll is still rising, and is likely to reach at least 18000•The head of the International Atomic […]
It is nearly a week since the Japanese earthquake/tsunami which led to the nuclear emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi complex. Yet information on the actual nature of the problems has been very difficult to obtain. In case readers have experienced the same issue, the blog is reprinting in full the article below from today’s Wall […]
Japan’s prime minister has described the current situation as “the country’s worst tragedy since World War 2″, whilst the emperor has said he is “deeply worried“. Certainly, never in our working lives have we faced the combination of an earthquake, a tsunami and a potential nuclear meltdown – all taking place in the world’s 3rd […]
The blog is still shocked by the terrible events in Japan. It would like to express its deepest sympathy to all those who have suffered loss. For those of us far away from the disaster, life has to go on. It will be some time before its full impact becomes clear. But in a crisis […]
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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.