Today’s 419 point fall on the Dow Jones Average, and $6/bbl fall in WTI crude oil prices, may not be just another example of the wild volatility that has come to seem normal in financial markets. It may also mark the end of an era. Since 1994, the US Federal Reserve has used all its […]
Tag Archives | liquidity
There was a sustained rise in the number of wealthy Western BabyBoomers entering their peak consumption years between 1980-2000. In turn, stock market multiples rose (the US Dow Jones price/earnings ratio rose from 8 to 32), as investors valued earnings more highly. ‘Buying the Dips’ in the market became the easy way to make money. […]
Speculators, assisted by the US Federal Reserve, have driven crude oil prices to unsustainable levels over the past year. Now, the Fed is withdrawing the liquidity that has financed this rise. The above chart from Petromatrix shows the surge in crude oil speculation on the Chicago futures market since August. The light blue line shows […]
The chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, has issued a sober update on the current state of the US economy. Expressing his disappointment that growth this year “has been somewhat slower than expected“, he then listed a number of key problem areas: • “Supply chain disruptions” caused by the Japan disaster • “The […]
The blog spent much of 2007/8 warning of the likely impact of high oil prices on chemical demand. It was then renamed ‘The Crystal Blog’ in November 2008, as the full extent of the problems finally became clear. Today we are back in the danger-zone. The chart above shows annual oil prices since 1970 – […]
Crude oil has been a speculators’ paradise for the past 9 months. Central banks have been making large amounts of cash available at 0% interest. In turn, this has funded larger and larger speculative positions in financial and commodity markets. CME, the world’s largest derivatives market, saw volume up 31% in March vs 2010. The […]
Last November, the Chairman of the US Federal Reserve justified his $600bn QE2 programme to boost financial markets by claiming “higher stock prices will boost consumer wealth and help increase confidence“, whilst also leading to “lower mortgage rates“. And stock prices have indeed risen. As the above chart from PetroMatrix shows, there has been an […]
Benzene has always been the blog’s favourite indicator for the economic outlook. It has the most number of applications, due to its head-start in being a major product when coal was the main feedstock. Equally, paraxylene (PX) is an excellent indicator of demand in emerging economies, as their rise in living standards leads to greater […]
Recent days have seen some signs that the tectonic plates under current chemical and polymer markets may be starting to shift. The most important has been the rapid rise in inter-bank lending rates in Shanghai. As the chart shows from Petromatrix, these have begun to rocket. A year ago, the rate at which banks could […]
The US Fed’s new QE2 Lifeboat programme designed to raise asset prices got off to a bad start last week, with most stock markets falling, rather than rising. It has also begun to run into major opposition from advisors to the new Republican-dominated Congress, with an open letter published Monday in the Wall Street Journal […]
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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.