India’s stock market has hit new records this week, as investors anticipate radical policy changes after election results are announced today. And the chart above highlights a key area behind the need for change, namely the problems of the important auto market: Indian auto sales dipped in April to just 183k (red square) This is […]
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The risk of global recession continues to rise, with the World Bank last week warning that “the real-side recovery is weak and business sector confidence is low“. Spain, the world’s 12th largest economy, provides a good example of how the problems are spreading. Financial markets have temporarily decided that it has ‘turned the corner’, due […]
The story of the 1989 US movie Field of Dreams summed up the happy days of the economic supercycle that was then getting underway. Starring A-list players such as Kevin Costner and Burt Lancaster, its theme that “if you build it, they will come” came to define the era. In the world of manufacturing, companies […]
The Red Queen in the classic book, Alice in Wonderland, would have recognised today’s financial markets when she boasted “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Fellow blogger Doris de Guzman noted one great example last week, when questioning whether Facebook could really be worth the combined value of Dow, […]
Unilever CEO Paul Polman suggests we are living in a VUCA world, as we discuss in chapter 11 of Boom, Gloom and the New Normal. Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity make planning for the future more difficult than for a generation. This week, the blog will run a special series that examines how this VUCA […]
There seems little doubt that China is increasingly worried by rising inflation. The latest sign is Unilever, the giant consumer products company, being fined $300k (RMB 2 million), for discussing plans to increase prices due to higher raw material costs. Those who can remember the US WIN (Whip Inflation Now) programme, or the UK’s Prices […]
GE’s then CEO, Jack Welch, launched the Shareholder Value concept in 1981. It has since led many investors to adopt a purely short-term focus on financial metrics, rather than longer-term opportunities. The only problem is that, as Welch admitted 2 years ago, it was “a dumb idea“. Now, one of the world’s great management thinkers, […]
Its now 18 months since Jack Welch publicly abandoned his views on the importance of shareholder value, and said it was “a dumb idea for executives to focus so heavily on quarterly profits and share price gains“. This was very significant, as Welch was generally credited with popularising the idea in a 1981 speech, when […]
Major changes are taking place in US retailing. They echo the changing focus of emerging Asian markets. Taken together, these must have important implications for chemical demand. US retail markets have been evolving over the past 3 years, as the Crisis began to hit, and the baby-boomers moved beyond the peak 25 – 54 age […]
The blog has come across a useful new tool for global brainstorming, run out of San Francisco by DiscoveryCast. They have recently organised a major event with Paris-based SpecialChem to review the current state of play in bio-based initiatives. This involved a group of 550 experts from 400 companies (including 3M, Dow, Michelin, DuPont, Arkema, […]
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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.