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 […]
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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, […]
ICIS pricing is a very valuable resource, particularly at market turning points. It highlighted the start of the current downturn in April, when reporting that buyers had moved to operating on a ‘hand to mouth’ basis. Now, its market editors are highlighting the fragility of demand due to ‘economic uncertainty’. This is the moment when […]
The blog was almost alone at the end of April, when it launched the IeC Downturn Alert. Today, its fear that we are close to a global downturn has become mainstream. As the American Chemistry Council report, “fears of another global recession are rising with several noted forecasters raising the chances of another recession to […]
The blog’s IeC Downturn Alert is now 3 months old. The aim was to provide enough time for readers to develop robust contingency plans, as a new global downturn became more and more likely. A key issue is that dysfunctional political systems in the eurozone, USA and China seem unable to deliver sensible solutions to […]
On Friday, the US government announced that GDP grew just 0.8% in H1. This, of course, was far below the US Federal Reserve’s confident estimate of 3.5-4% for 2011, given only 4 months ago in March. We are indeed in a New Normal. But the consensus simply refuses to recognise the impact on demand of […]
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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.