”Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Oil traders know how the Queen felt in Lewis Carroll’s famous book, Alice Through the Looking-Glass. The list of impossible things that they are being asked to believe grows almost by the day: Last week, prices jumped 4% on the basis that strong […]
Tag Archives | volatility
“A week is a long time in politics” was the insight of former UK premier Harold Wilson. It is tempting to think that the events of the past week – a terrorist massacre in France: an attempted army coup in Turkey: a fatal US sniper attack: the overnight emergence of a new government with new […]
The good news was that the Eurozone leaders did realise, at the last moment, that Sunday was a “moment of truth” for the currency union and for Europe. They spent 17 hours negotiating through the night as a result. But reports suggest it wasn’t an easy time: The BBC carried live reports of arguments between […]
Volatility creates uncertainty. And uncertainty can easily lead to paralysis, if a company hasn’t planned ahead for the range of potential scenarios that might develop. This is the risk highlighted in my usual analysis of quarterly results. A key warning sign is the divide that has developed recently in performance in different regions and industry sectors, […]
Today’s market conditions are some of the most dangerous that I can ever remember. Of course, markets are always unpredictable. As UK prime minister Harold MacMillan noted in the 1960s, when asked what kept him awake at nights. “Events, dear boy, events”. But today’s markets have a 3-dimensional unpredictability: They have the normal issue of trying to understand fundamental levels […]
There seems almost no need to publish a forecast for 2014. Policymakers have toured the TV studios to confirm that this is finally the year of recovery. They admit it may have taken nearly 5 years longer than first expected, and that there have been numerous ‘false dawns’ on the way. But now, they are certain that […]
Nobody ever said that financial and chemical were meant to be easy to understand. But current developments are clearly far more complex than normal. We have grown used to manipulation by policymakers, via their various quantitative easing (QE) programmes. But today, we also have completely opposite views in the markets themselves: • Benzene prices (green […]
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 […]
CFO’s have a lot to think about currently. Volatility is rising in currency and oil markets. Plus credit risks on previously safe ‘sovereign’ debt markets are also increasing. Today, for example, there are new concerns that investors in Dubai World’s $22bn debt may lose 40% of their investment. Equally, current problems in the eurozone over […]
Volatility has been rising in the crude oil and feedstocks markets. This is because individual players have completely different strategies. In turn, this makes it difficult for chemical companies to forecast short-term feedstock costs. It also makes it difficult to maintain margins. Last Monday, crude reached a new high of $111/bbl. Then, as the scale […]
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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.