There is an alarming naivety about Western policymakers’ response to events in the Ukraine. They have simply chosen not to recognise that Russia’s strategic objectives are no longer about building links with Europe, but are instead about creating a Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Thus they assume that Russia will always put its economic interests ahead of its political objectives. And […]
Tag Archives | Russia
History shows that that governments usually lose arguments with energy suppliers. UK premier Harold Macmillan summed up the position when talking about coal miners in the 1950s, warning: “There are three bodies no sensible man directly challenges: the Roman Catholic Church, the Brigade of Guards and the National Union of Mineworkers” Unfortunately, Europe now potentially faces an argument with its leading gas […]
Markets have been remarkably calm ahead of Crimea’s planned Sunday referendum to leave Ukraine and join Russia. Yet as Associated Press has reported: “The Group of 7 world leaders say they won’t recognize results of a referendum for the Crimea region to split from Ukraine and join Russia. A statement from the seven nations released from […]
Autos remain the world’s largest manufacturing industry, and the single biggest source of demand for chemicals and plastics. According to detailed analysis by the American Chemistry Council, each new US auto is worth $3,539 in terms of sales – and involves a wide range of products including antifreeze, plastic dashboards, bumpers and windows, as well as upholstery […]
China’s auto sales moved past Europe’s in 2010, and are now close to US levels. But even China is not expected to maintain this surge in 2014. As the chart above shows, sales soared in the past few months (red line) versus 2012 (green). But as the automotive association explains, this was mainly because: “Panic consumption over […]
Since 2009, the 4 BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China) have been the focus of every car manufacturers’ dreams. Whilst the West worried about ageing populations and its financial crisis, the BRICs seemed to have moved into a new dimension. Today, however, reality is beginning to set in: Auto sales in Brazil (the world’s […]
The blog’s annual review of the Russian market showed production growth stalled in 2012. Output had picked up sharply in 2010-11 following the 2009 crisis. But as the chart shows, based on latest data from statistics agency Rosstat, today’s outlook has become more difficult. As always, the blog is grateful to ICIS’ Sergei Blagov for […]
EU policymakers like to pretend that the Eurozone debt crisis was resolved by the adoption of last March’s new Treaty. An even more disturbing thought is that they might even believe their own propaganda. Who knows? But on the ground, it is crystal clear that the problems continue to multiply. Latest data from the Bank […]
Yesterday the blog discussed caustic soda, and the recent importance of China’s metal demand. Today it focuses on chlorine and PVC. PVC is the largest end-use for chlorine. It is also critical for chloralkali producers when caustic demand is strong, as recently. Chlorine itself cannot be safely stored in large volumes, and so instead they […]
Russia has been the great exception in regional chemical markets. Normally, production growth starts at a high level, often 15% a year or more, and then slows as markets become more mature. But in Russia, output collapsed with the Berlin Wall after 1989, and growth was actually negative until the mid-2000s. Since then, there has […]
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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.