Cotton will be one of the main case studies used by future historians to highlight the failure of post-Crisis policies from 2008 onwards. It highlights all the key issues: Their tidal wave of liquidity took cotton prices, as the chart shows, to all-time record levels. They soared to a record monthly level of 230c/lb in March 2011, nearly double […]
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Cotton prices, as the chart shows, have returned to the 50c-70c/lb range that has dominated since 1982. This proves, once again, that ‘reversion to the mean’ is usually the best investment strategy. Sadly, however, it is the people who did not believe the hype around higher prices who will have to pick up the pieces, […]
Cotton prices are falling again, since Monday’s reversal by the Indian government of its proposed ban on cotton exports. India is the world’s 2nd largest cotton exporter, after the USA, with 20% of the market: • On 5 March, its Textiles Ministry banned all exports • Domestic users had applied pressure to divert supplies to […]
Western banks now demand higher deposits when lending to first time buyers. The Bank of England expects this to increase the average age at which first-time buyers buy a home, and reduce home ownership. This will hit demand for home furnishings and appliances, unless companies change their approach to the market. The Bank’s conclusions apply […]
It is now 5 weeks since the IeC Downturn Alert was launched. The chart above therefore updates the blog’s regular review of financial markets, showing how these have moved over the same period. Most are down around 4%-5%. Russia is the worst performer (down 8%) and Brazil the best (down 3%). But government bond prices […]
Attendees had a fascinating two days at our annual European Aromatics & Derivatives Conference in Berlin this week. As always, it was co-organised with ICIS, and featured a strong list of speakers: Sven Royall, VP at Shell Chemicals, put forward an optimistic outlook for benzene derivatives. He argued that substitution of PS by PP had […]
Later this month, Berlin hosts our annual European Aromatics & Derivatives conference, held as usual with ICIS. It has one of our strongest-ever speaker line-ups, and covers a number of important areas: What next for aromatics? Sven Royall, Shell’s VP Intermediates, will present his view of the outlook for the value chain. Ralf Kuhlmann, formerly […]
One can still rely on ExxonMobil to deliver positive results, even whilst the world is collapsing around them. Friday’s report showed Q4 chemical volumes down 20%, as a result of hurricane effects and destocking. But although earnings tumbled from $1.1bn in 2007, they were still in the black at $0.2bn.
China faces a difficult outlook, after the collapse of its main export markets in the West. Interviewed by the Financial Times today, China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, sets out a pragmatic list of “forceful” actions that are now underway. Most are Keynesian measures, aimed at putting money in the pockets of those who are most likely […]
Readers will hopefully forgive the blog a moment of nostalgia. This weekend sees the closure of SABIC’s PX V plant in the UK, after producing c10 million tonnes of paraxylene. The blog’s first role as a product manager was in trading 250KT/year of xylene feedstock for PX V. In turn, this led to a memorable […]
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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.