In December, the blog noted that Japanese policymakers saw clear parallels between the mistakes they made during the ‘lost decade’ of the 1990′s, and those being made today in the USA and other Western countries. The New York Times now has a fascinating article on this subject, which notes that: “The Japanese crisis of the […]
Tag Archives | Japan
Asia is hard-hit by the downturn in the Western economy. Today, China said its Q4 GDP had grown just 6.8%, the slowest level since 2001. This led premier Wen Jiabao to say the outlook for jobs was “very grim”. It also increased speculation that China will devalue the renmimbi, which would increase trade tensions within […]
December was another bad month for US auto sales, with volumes down 36% versus 2007. Total 2008 sales of 13.2 million were the lowest since 1992, when the economy bottomed in the 1990-4 recession. As the chart shows, sales volumes dropped continuously during 2008. They were down 10% in Q1, and then Chrysler and Ford’s […]
Japan went through its “bubble years” in the 1980′s, with the Nikkei index peaking at 39000 (versus 8664 today). The blog well remembers standing in front of Tokyo’s Imperial Palace in Tokyo in 1988, when its land was said to be worth more than all of California. Since then, housing and stock market bubbles have […]
Japan has an ageing population. Since 1990, it has relied on exports to boost its economy. Yesterday, official figures showed industrial production is now being badly affected by the global recession. Output fell 3.1% in October, and a 6.4% decline is expected in November. Observers forecast the September – December period could see an “unprecedented” […]
The US Federal Reserve used just to manage monetary policy for the 12 ‘districts’ of the USA. But now, it is going global. First, it opened unlimited “swap lines” with other G7 countries through the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan, as well as the Swiss National Bank. Then, […]
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 […]
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 […]
The blog has been following the debate over ‘decoupling’ with some interest. With the US going into a downturn, it is critical to understand whether Asian chemical markets will follow. Until recently, they have been buoyant, allowing US companies to make up for some of the decline in their domestic markets via exports. But I […]
The US dollar has been falling steadily in recent weeks. It is particularly weak against the euro, having fallen almost 5% since January. OPEC countries buy much more from the eurozone than from the US, and the OPEC President has said they are ‘concerned’ about dollar weakness. We probably need to start monitoring oil prices […]
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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.