Q1 was very difficult for many companies and investors. They had wanted to believe since 2009 that central banks could somehow control the global economy: The oil price would always be $100/bbl The US $ would always remain weak Central banks would always be able to stimulate growth in the economy Stock markets would always go up in the […]
Tag Archives | USA
The blog’s 6-monthly review of global stock markets highlights the narrow nature of the advance since September 2008, when the blog first began analysing developments. It shows their performance since the pre-Crisis peak for each market, and the performance of the US 30-year Treasury bond. Remarkably, only the US, India, Germany and the UK stock markets […]
The Cycle of Deflation has taken another lurch forward. The reason was India’s decision to veto last year’s Bali deal to streamline customs procedures. Almost certainly, this will prove the dying effort of the World Trade Organisation, which sponsored the proposal. The blog is particularly sad at this outcome. It has always believed that free […]
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 […]
Benzene has always been one of the blog’s favourite leading indicators for the global economy. The reason is simple, in that it has been around a long time, and is now used in a very wide range of industries. So it provides us with a broad-based picture of the global economy. The chart above highlights another important […]
The casual observer might be forgiven for imagining that the US ethylene industry should be seeing its biggest export boom of recent decades. Its ethane feedstock cost is back at its normal 25c-30c/gal range of a decade ago, whilst its oil-based competitors have seen their prices quadruple as oil moved to $100/bbl. But as the chart shows for […]
June has typically been the seasonal peak for US employment. July’s data continued this trend, as the chart shows: The July figure was 135.6m, compared to 136.8m in June (blue column) It is still well below 2007′s peak of 139.1m This is the first time jobs have been lower over a 4 year period since records began in […]
The world’s 3 major auto markets – USA, Europe and China – currently account for ~70% of global sales. And as the chart above shows, H1 performance has been volatile over the 2005-11 period: • 2005 was the last year of the US subprime boom, and the US (red) was easily the largest market with […]
The blog’s series on the emerging ‘VUCA world’ today looks at how companies have to manage increased levels of Uncertainty. This can be seen in key areas of demand, such as housing. The above chart shows how US housing starts (blue line) have fallen from 2.1m in 2005 to just 0.6m last year. Housing permits […]
The blog continues this week’s special series on chloralkali and PVC markets by looking at EU developments on PVC. Historically the EU has had strong export positions into markets such as Turkey and Russia, which lack major local production. More recently, as in the USA, strong export demand for caustic soda and weak domestic demand […]
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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.