It is 5 months since the blog launched its IeC Downturn Alert, using prices from 29 April. It wrote then that: “They don’t ring bells at market turning points. Otherwise, we could all retire to the Bahamas.” But its argument was that a peak was likely, as crude oil had remained stable at $125/bbl for […]
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The brave new world of modern finance continues to amaze the blog. It still has problems with the idea that the answer to having too much debt is to borrow some more. But last week’s Eurozone summit not only did this (as noted by the German central bank), but added a new element. Its new […]
Blog readers can choose their favourite leading indicator this week. In financial markets, the US S&P 500 index continued its recent rally. If you believe the bullish analysts; a Greek default, lengthy arguments between Germany and France, and the need to expand the Eurozone bailout fund into the €1-2trn range ($1.4-2.8trn), are all good news. […]
Financial markets continued their start of quarter rally last week. But their volatility amazes even seasoned observers. The US Dow Jones Index has moved at least 100 points in 57 of the last 58 days, for example, whilst crude oil jumped $3/bbl on Friday alone. Of course, the continued correlation between stock and oil markets […]
The great film comedy Groundhog Day saw Bill Murray doomed to repeat the same day in his life, until he learnt to become a better person. Sadly, financial markets have yet to learn from his example. Every quarter, the investment banks produce new stories aimed at pushing stock/oil markets higher. Then high-frequency traders make $millions […]
Petchem markets are continuing to act as leading indicators for the global economy. The IeC Downturn Alert shows there was no September rebound in orders after the holiday period. October will have to bring a sudden, and powerful reversal of the downward trend. Otherwise Q4 could be very difficult indeed. Benzene, the blog’s favourite market […]
The chemical industry has a turnover of $3.4trn, and is the world’s 3rd largest industry. It matters to the global economy. Many of its leaders are about to meet next weekend in Berlin for the annual European Petrochemical Association (EPCA) meeting. The blog strongly believes that this should not be seen as a ‘business as […]
There seems little doubt that the global economy is now entering a new downturn. Pessimists may worry that it has already begun in Q3. Optimists might hope it will be delayed till Q4, or even Q1. But almost all major indicators are pointing in the same direction. • On the macro-level, the latest American Chemistry […]
The IeC Downturn Alert has hopefully done the job for which it was intended. It was launched at the end of April, when the blog became convinced that the global economy was highly likely to enter a new downturn. It also realised from its experience in 2007-8, when it later became known as ‘The Crystal […]
Chemical markets are traditionally 6 months ahead of the wider economy, as they are so focused on consumer demand. September may therefore provide a ‘moment of truth’ for the IeC Downturn Alert, launched in April: • The petchems downturn since April may now become apparent in the wider economy • Alternatively, demand may recover strongly, […]
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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.