Paul Volcker was the last US Federal Reserve chairman who believed that a key part of its role was “to take away the punchbowl just when the party starts getting interesting“. He successfully brought inflation back to single figures during the 1980′s downturn, setting the scene for the major economic recovery that followed. Now head […]
Tag Archives | US Federal Reserve
The US accounts for 23% of global GDP. Its economy is 3 times larger than the No 2 country, Japan. And most critically for the chemical industry, 70% of US GDP is consumer-based. Developments in US housing/construction, auto and electronics industries are therefore the biggest single influence on global chemical sales. In turn, the level […]
In 2006, there were 2.2 million US housing starts. These were worth $35bn of chemical sales. Currently, and even with the support of an $8k tax credit, they are running at an annual rate of just 600k, worth $10bn. This is the lowest level since records began in 1960. Even in 1975, 1981 and 1981, […]
During the growth years, it became fashionable for politicians to claim that central banks were “independent”. But as the current crisis has grown, this has been increasingly exposed as a myth. As the blog noted back in September 2007, Alan Greenspan (former US Federal Reserve Chairman), revealed that ‘the presumption that we were fully independent […]
Speaking today, Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth Duke produced some doleful figures about the current state of the US housing market. She noted that 25% of sub-prime loans, and 13% of near-prime loans, are now “seriously delinquent” – either 90 days overdue, or in foreclosure. The serious delinquency rate for prime mortgages is now over 3%, […]
Yesterday the US Fed cut interest rates to an all-time low of 0% – 0.25%. Once again, Wall Street celebrated with a major rally, even though the move had more symbolic than practical purpose. It made it appear that the authorities were “doing something”, even though the evidence of previous rate cuts indicates they have […]
2 months ago the blog raised 5 key questions about the $700bn US bailout. Yesterday’s news about additional government funding for insurance giant AIG confirms its concerns. Originally, the US Treasury had insisted it would only support “healthy” firms. Now, this fiction has been abandoned. After AIG announced its 4th straight quarterly loss ($24.5bn), its […]
“Our normal customers have no orders to place with us, and our credit department won’t let us sell to others who might want to buy”. The blog was given this plain-spoken assessment of current chemical market conditions by one of the majors yesterday. Coincidentally, US Fed Governor Kevin Warsh was making one of his rare […]
The US Federal Reserve used just to manage monetary policy for the 12 ‘districts’ of the USA. But now, it is going global. First, it opened unlimited “swap lines” with other G7 countries through the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan, as well as the Swiss National Bank. Then, […]
The US Federal Reserve is now bypassing the banking system, and dealing directly with major corporate borrowers. These have been cut off from many sources of credit, as banks hoarded their cash. The impact has been immediate, with 1500 transactions already done for a record $67bn – 10 times last week’s daily level. This should […]
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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.