Markets are worryingly quiet for the start of a New Year. There is some restocking underway, but the main interest lies in the crude oil market. Since Brent peaked in April, there has been a clear pattern each month: • Prices have peaked at the start of almost every month • The only exceptions have […]
Tag Archives | S&P 500
The blog is quite surprised at the mainstream media’s lack of interest in the fact that average Brent oil prices were at record levels in 2011 in real terms (adjusted for inflation). The annual average of Brent prices recorded by the US Energy Information Administration was $111.26/bbl, well above even 2008, when Brent prices peaked […]
The chart above shows how the benchmark products in the IeC Downturn Monitor moved during 2011. The yellow shaded area covers performance since 29 April, when the Monitor launched. It shows a year of two halves: • The period to the end of April was the last time that governments embarked on major ‘stimulus efforts’. […]
Whisper it softly, so as not to alarm the CEO. But the world is starting to look worryingly like the picture of mid-2008. Official bodies such as the IMF are always cautious in forecasting a downturn. They rightly worry that they could help to cause the decline, by hitting confidence. But there comes a moment […]
By now, companies should be reordering for the New Year. CFOs have achieved their working capital targets for year-end. And the commercial people should be planning Q1 sales. So far, however, it seems that this restocking has proved rather weak. This parallels September’s disappointment, when the return from the summer holidays also failed to produce […]
The blog was in Singapore last week, running the final New Normal workshop of the year with co-author John Richardson. The main topic during the breaks was the continuing concern over China’s demand. This is reflected in the latest Downturn Monitor above. On the positive side, China’s PTA prices improved due to hopes of easier […]
Many investors and policymakers believe that the global economy is just in a ‘soft patch’. They expect a quick recovery early in 2012. This parallels their misguided confidence in Q1 that a strong recovery was underway. But petchem markets, a much more reliable indicator, are suggesting we are at the start of a sustained downturn. […]
Petchem markets are telling us something very important about the state of the global economy. They are doing their usual job as leading indicators. Prices for all 4 of the blog’s benchmark products are now down over 20% since it launched the IeC Downturn Monitor at the end of April. The OECD’s leading indicators also […]
The UK government has now confirmed that it is preparing contingency plans for “economic Armageddon“, if the eurozone falls apart. This highlights the difficulties currently facing the world economy. Meanwhile the Eurozone leadership has clearly begun to panic. According to Reuters’ Paul Taylor, control of the crisis has passed to the so-called ‘Frankfurt Group”, comprising: […]
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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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 as 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.