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Orders for non-defense capital goods, excluding aircraft, have risen in six of the past seven months. In the fourth quarter, orders rose at a 4.7% annualized rate, in contrast to the 5.3% year-over-year plunge in the first half of the year.
The rollover in core capital goods orders in recent months has been startling. In the three months to February, compared to the previous three months, orders for non-defense capital goods fell at a 7.6% annualized rate.
The plunge in capital spending in the oil business appears to be over, at least for now. Orders for non-defense capital goods, excluding aircraft, fell by 8.9% from their September peak to their February low, but they have since rebounded, as our first chart shows. We can't be certain that the sudden drop in core capex orders late last year was triggered by a rollover in oil companies' spending, but it is the most likely explanation, by far.
Today brings a wave of data, some brought forward because of Thanksgiving. We are most interested in the durable goods orders report for October, which we expect will show the upward trend in core capital goods orders continues.
China's unadjusted current account surplus widened to $16.0B in the preliminary report for Q3, from $5.3B in Q2.
Two major themes emerged from the Chinese Party Congress last week, namely, further opening of the financial sector to foreigners, and the threat of a Minsky moment.
The external environment was relatively benign for China in July. The euro and yen appreciated as markets began to question how long policy can remain on their current emergency settings.
China's FX reserves were relatively stable in March, with the minimal increase driven by currency valuation effects.
China's FX reserves fell to $3,134B in February, from $3,161B in January, after a year of gains.
The collapse in capital spending in the oil sector and poor construction spending have constrained aggregate Mexican industrial output in recent months, despite the strength of the manufacturing sector. Total production fell 0.1% year-over-year in January, though note this was a clear improvement after the 0.6% drop in December, and better than the average 0.4% contraction over the second half of 2016.
After three straight 1.3% month-to-month increases in core capital goods orders, we are becoming increasingly confident that the upturn in business investment signalled by the NFIB survey is now materializing.
If we had known back in June 2014 that oil prices would drop to about $30, the collapse in capital spending in the oil sector would not have been a surprise. Spending on well-drilling, which accounts for about three quarters of oil capex, has dropped in line with the fall in prices, after a short lag, as our first chart shows. We think spending on equipment has tracked the fall in oil prices, too.
The story in EZ capital markets this year has been downbeat.
In recent years only one event has made a material difference to the growth path of the U.S. economy, namely, the plunge in oil prices which began in the summer of 2014. The ensuing collapse in capital spending in the mining sector and everything connected to it, pulled GDP growth down from 2½% in both 2014 and 2015 to just 1.6% in 2016.
A round of recent conversations with investors suggests to us that markets remain quite skeptical of the idea that the recent upturn in capital spending will be sustained.
The alarming-looking decline in core capital goods orders since late 2014 has been substantially due, in our view, to the rollover in investment in the mining sector. But the 29% jump in the number of oil rigs in operation, since the mid-May low, makes it clear that the collapse is over.
We have been very encouraged in recent months to see core capital goods orders breaking to the upside, relative to the trend implied by the path of oil prices.
We would like to be able to argue with confidence that today's December durable goods orders report will show core capital goods orders rebounding after three straight declines, totalling 3.4%.
A setback in German manufacturing orders was coming after the jump at the end of 2016, but yesterday's headline was worse than we expected. Factory orders crashed 7.4% month-to-month in January, more than reversing the 5.4% jump in December. The year-over-year rate fell to -0.8% from a revised +8.0%. The decline was the biggest since 2009, but the huge volatility in domestic capital goods orders means that the headline has to be taken with a large pinch of salt.
Brazil's external accounts continue to surprise to the upside, with the current account deficit remaining close to historic lows and capital flows performing better than anticipated, mostly due to higher-than- expected FDI.
China's FX reserves data pointed to an about-turn in net capital flows in May, with capital leaving the country again after two months of net inflows, and a current account deficit in Q1.
The tepid recovery in German manufacturing continued in at the start of Q4. Factory orders edged higher by 0.3% month-to-month in October, boosted by a 2.9% month-to-month increase in export orders, primarily for capital and intermediate goods in other EZ economies.
Colombia's economy has continued to slow, due mainly to lagged effect of the oil price shock since mid-2014, and stubbornly high inflation, which has triggered painful monetary tightening. Modest fiscal expansion and capital inflows have helped to avoid a hard landing, but the economy is still feeling the pain of weakening domestic demand. And the twin deficits--though improving--remain a threat.
A long period of extremely accommodative U.S. monetary policy generated sizable capital inflows and asset price appreciation in EM countries.
The flat trend in core capital goods orders continued through May, according to yesterday's durable goods orders report. We are not surprised.
Yesterday's headline economic data in Germany were decent enough. Industrial output edged higher by 0.3% month-to-month in May, lifted primarily by rising production of capital and consumer goods.
Eurozone capital markets have been split across the main asset classes this year. Equity investors have had a nightmare. The MSCI EU ex-UK index is down 10.6% year-to-date, a remarkably poor performance given additional QE from the ECB and stable GDP growth. Corporate bonds, on the other hand, are sizzling.
Orders for core capital goods began to fall outright in September last year; we can't blame the severe winter for the 11.1% annualized decline in the fourth quarter of last year. Indeed, the drop in orders in the first quarter will be rather smaller than in the fourth, unless today's March report reveals a catastrophic collapse.
The durable goods numbers were among the first short-term indicators to warn clearly of the hit to manufacturing from the rollover in oil sector capex, which began last fall. The trend in core capital goods orders was rising strongly before oil firms began to cut back, with the year-over-year rate peaking at 11.9% in September. Leading capex indicators in the small business sector remained quite robust, but just nine months later, core capex orders were down 6.4% year-over-year, following annualized declines of more than 14% in both the fourth quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of this year.
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA will step up efforts to win investors for an expanded debt-to-equity swap over the coming days, pressing ahead with a 5 billion-euro ($5.3- billion) capital increase as its options to avoid a state rescue dwindle. Pantheon Macroeconomics Chief Euro Zone Economist Claus Vistesen weighs in on "Bloomberg Daybreak: Americas."
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson discussing Durable Goods Orders in May
Data from trade body U.K. Finance show that mortgage lending has remained unyielding in the face of heightened economic and political uncertainty.
The closer we look at the startling surge in imports in the fourth quarter, the more convinced we become that it was due in large part to a burst of inventory replacement following the late summer hurricanes.
We expect to learn today that the economy expanded at a 1.7% rate in the fourth quarter. At least, that's our forecast, based on incomplete data, and revisions over time could easily push growth significantly away from this estimate. The inherent unreliability of the GDP numbers, which can be revised forever--literally--explains why the Fed puts so much more emphasis on the labor market data, which are volatile month-to-month but more trustworthy over longer periods and subject to much smaller revisions.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's testimony this week reinforced our view that the first U.S. rate hike will be in June. The transition to higher U.S. rates will require an unpleasant adjustment in asset prices in some LatAm countries.
China's annual "two sessions" conference is due to start on Sunday, with the economic targets for this year set to be made official over the course of the meetings.
It's hard to imagine that Fed Vice-Chair Dudley would choose to say yesterday that he finds the case for a September rate hike "less compelling than it was a few weeks ago" without having had a chat beforehand with Chair Yellen. Mr. Dudley pointed out that the case "could become more compelling by the time of the meeting", depending on the data and the markets, but he also argued that developments in markets and overseas economies can "impinge" on the U.S., and that there "...still appears to be excess slack in the labor market". These ideas, especially on the labor market but also on the impact of events overseas, are not shared by the hawks, but we can't imagine Mr. Dudley disagreeing in public with Dr. Yellen. We have to assume these are her views too.
We have argued for some time that the hourly earnings data, which take no account of changes in the mix of employment by industry or occupation, have been depressed over the past year by the relatively rapid growth of low-paid jobs.
We expect to learn today that the economy expanded at a 2.1% annualized rate in the fourth quarter, slowing from 3.4% in the third.
It is fair to say that the economic debate on fiscal policy has shifted dramatically in the last 12-to-18 months.
Data released last week confirm that Brazil's recovery has continued over the second half of the year, supported by steady household consumption and rebounding capex.
Brazil's February industrial production numbers, labour market data, and sentiment indicators are gradually providing clarity on the underlying pace of activity growth, pointing to some red flags.
Today is all about beans. Specifically, soybeans, and more specifically, just how many of them were exported in August. This really matters, because if soybean exports in August and September remained close to their hugely elevated July level, the surge in exports relative to the second quarter will contribute about one percentage point to headline GDP growth.
Predictably, the Bank of England's estimate that GDP would plunge by 8% in the first year after a disorderly no-deal, no transition Brexit and that interest rates would need to rise to 5.5% to contain inflation grabbed the headlines yesterday.
Last week's balance of payments showed that the U.K. has made significant progress in reducing its reliance on overseas finance.
Data released this week in Brazil underscored the effect of weaker external conditions. This adds to the poor domestic demand picture, which has been hit by high, albeit easing, political uncertainty.
Brazil's industrial sector continued to support the economy in Q3. The underlying tr end in output is rising and leading indicators point to further growth in the near term.
The two major central banks in Asia currently have hugely different aims, causing a policy divergence that won't survive the 2018 rise in external yields.
Most of the time, sterling broadly tracks a path implied by the difference between markets' expectations for interest rates in the U.K. and overseas. During the financial crisis, however, sterling fell much further than interest rate differentials implied, as our first chart shows.
Inflation and growth paths remain diverse across LatAm, but in the Andes, the broad picture is one of modest inflationary pressures and gradual economic recovery.
All seven of Britain's major banks passed the Bank of England's stress test this year, in the first clean sweep since the annual test began in 2014.
We have to hand it to Italy's politicians. In an economy with a current account surplus of 3% of GDP, a nearly balanced net foreign asset position and with the majority of government debt held by domestic investors, the leading parties have managed to prompt markets to flatten the yield curve via a jump in shortterm interest rates.
Brazil's economic prospects continue to deteriorate rapidly, due to a combination of rising political uncertainty, the failure of the new government to advance on reforms, and ongoing external threats.
The decline in headline durable goods orders in May, reported yesterday, doesn't matter.
I need to ask your indulgence today, because the release of the durable goods and advance international trade reports coincides with my elder daughter's college graduation ceremony.
We have argued for some time that the revival in nonoil capex represents clear upside risk for GDP growth next year, but it's now time to make this our base case.
We covered the detailed German Q1 GDP report in Friday's Monitor--see here--but the investment data could do with closer inspection. The headline numbers looked great.
Two entirely separate factors point to significant upside risk to the first estimate of third quarter GDP growth, due today. First, we think it likely that farm inventories will not fall far enough to offset the unprecedented surge in exports of soybeans, which will add some 0.9 percentage points to headline GDP growth.
Brazil's external accounts remain solid, despite the recent modest deterioration, making it easier for the country to withstand external and domestic risks.
Brazil's external accounts were a relatively bright spot last year, once again.
The definition of "yesbutism": Noun, meaning the practice of dismissing or seeking to diminish the importance of data on the grounds that the next iteration will tell the opposite story.
We have been waiting a long time to see signs that business investment spending is becoming less reliant on movements in oil prices.
It has been difficult to be an optimist about U.S. international trade performance in recent years. The year-over-year growth rate of real exports of goods and services hasn't breached 2% in a single quarter for two years.
The end of China's Party Congress can feel like an endless exercise in reading the tea leaves.
Germans head to the polls on Sunday to elect representatives for the national parliament. The media has tried to keep investors on alert for a surprise, but polls indicate clearly that Angela Merkel will continue as Chancellor.
With Fed officials now in pre-FOMC meeting blackout mode, this week will not bring a repeat of Friday's confusion, when the New York Fed felt obligated to issue a clarification following president William's speech on monetary policy close to the zero bound.
Chile's central bank kept rates unchanged last Thursday at 2.50% with a dovish bias, following an unexpected 50bp rate cut at the June meeting.
The data tell an increasingly convincing story that the Eurozone's external surplus rose further in the second half of last year.
Yesterday's announcement that the administration plans to imposes tariffs worth about $60B per year -- thatìs 0.3% of GDP -- on an array of imports of consumer goods from China is a serious escalation.
Japan will host the Olympics in 2020 and the preparatory surge in construction investment makes 2017-to-2018 the peak spending period.
The third estimate of first quarter GDP growth, due today, will not be the final word. The BEA will revise the data again on July 30, when it will also release its first estimate for the second quarter and the results of its annual revision exercise. Quarterly estimates back to 2012 will be revised. The revisions are of greater interest than usual this year because the new data will incorporate the first results of the BEA's review of the seasonal problems.
The apparent softness of business capex is worrying the Fed.
The headline in yesterday's ECB Q2 bank lending survey seemed almost tailor-made for the central bank to deliver a dovish message to markets this week.
Yesterday's data presented Eurozone investors with an unfamiliar sight; a big downside surprise in the survey data.
Brazil's recession stretched into the start of the third quarter, but its intensity has eased. The IBC-Br economic activity index--a monthly proxy for GDP--fell 0.1% month-to-month seasonally adjusted in July, following a 0.4% gain in June. The unadjusted year-over-year rate fell to -5.2%, from an upwardly revised -2.9%.
Fed Chair Yellen said something which sounded odd, at first, in her Q&A at the Senate Banking Committee last Tuesday. It is "not clear" she argued, that the rate of growth of wages has a "direct impact on inflation".
Catalonia goes to the polls today, and it will be a close call. Surveys point to a hung parliament in which neither the pro-separatists nor the unionist coalition will secure an absolute majority.
The third quarter national accounts, due to be published on Friday, likely will not alter the picture of economic resilience immediately after the referendum. The latest estimate of GDP growth often is revised in this release, but revisions have not exceeded 0.1 percentage points in either direction in the last four years, as our first chart shows.
Chile's Q2 GDP report, released yesterday, confirmed that the economy gathered strength in the first half of the year, consolidating a strong recovery that started in Q3 2017.
Speculators who have sold sterling over the last six months have been frustrated. Investors have been overwhelmingly net short sterling, but the pound has hovered between $1.20 and $1.25, as our first chart shows. Undeterred, investors increased their net short positions last week to 107K contracts-- the most since records began in 1992--from 81K a week earlier.
Global current account imbalances are back on the agenda. In the U.S., economic policies threaten to blow out the twin deficit, while external surpluses in the euro area and Asia are rising.
Financial markets in the Eurozone will be pushed around by global events today. The Bank of Japan kicks off the party in the early hours CET, and the spectrum of investors' expectations is wide.
The Eurozone's external surplus remains solid, despite hitting a wall in August. The seasonally adjusted current account surplus fell to €17.7B in August from €25.6B in July, due to a €7B fall in the goods component. A 5.2% month-to-month collapse in German exports -- the biggest fall since 2009 -- was the key driver, but we expect a rebound next month. The 12-month trend in the Eurozone's external surplus continues to edge higher, rising to 3% of GDP up from 2.1% in August last year.
We have been asked recently why we rarely talk about the signal from the U.S. money supply numbers, in contrast to the emphasis we give to real M1 growth in our forecasts for economic growth in both the Eurozone and China.
A grim-looking headline durable goods orders number for April seems inevitable today, given the troubles at Boeing.
India's National Democratic Alliance, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party,
The key data today, covering March durable goods orders and international trade in goods, should both beat consensus forecasts.
Inflation in Mexico surprised to the downside in late Q3, supporting our core view that it will continue to fall gradually over the coming months.
The Bank of Japan's biannual Financial System Report was published earlier this week.
Brazil's industrial production surprised to the downside in August, suggesting that manufacturing is struggling to gather momentum over the second half of the year.
Japan's CPI inflation has risen sharply in recent months, driven by non-core elements. The headline faces cross-currents in coming months, but should remain high, posing problems for BoJ policy.
Data released yesterday confirmed that the Mexican economy ended Q4 poorly; policymakers will take note.
Last month, the ECB set the scene for the majority of its key policy decisions over the next 12 months.
need to add docMea culpa: We failed to spot the press release from the Commerce Department announcing the delay of the release of the advance December trade and inventory data, due to the government shutdown.
Sometime very soon, likely in the second quarter of this year, the stock of net housing wealth will exceed the $13.1T peak recorded before the crash, in the fourth quarter of 2005. At the post-crash low, in the first quarter of 2009, net housing equity had fallen by 53%, to just $6.2T. The recovery began in earnest in 2012, and over the past year net housing wealth has been rising at a steady pace just north of 10%. With housing demand rising, credit conditions easing and inventory still very tight, we have to expect home prices to keep rising at a rapid pace.
Yesterday's economic data in Germany confirmed that the economy slowed in Q3, but also added to the evidence that growth will rebound in Q4. The second estimate for Q3 showed that real GDP rose 0.2% quarter-on-quarter, slowing from a 0.4% gain in Q2.
We see significant upside risk to today's headline durable goods orders numbers for April.
If you wanted to be charitable, you could argue that the downturn in the rate of growth of core durable goods orders in recent months has not been as bad as implied by the ISM manufacturing survey.
In Brazil, last week's formal payroll employment report for March was decent, with employment increasing by 56K, well above the consensus expectation for a 48K gain.
We believe China is going through a paradigm shift in its economic policy, away from GDPism-- the obsession with GDP growth targeting--to environmentalism, setting widespread environmental targets on everything, from air to water to waste.
Last week's data added yet more weight to our view that manufacturing is in deep trouble, and that the bottom has not yet been reached.
December's public finance figures suggest that borrowing is on track to come in a bit below the forecasts set out in the Autumn Statement in November. But we caution against expecting the Chancellor to unveil a material reduction in the scale of the fiscal consolidation set to hit the economy in his Budget on 8th March.
The commentariat was very excited Friday by the inversion of the curve, with three-year yields dipping to 2.24% while three-month bills yield 2.45%.
The June durable goods, trade and inventory reports today, could make a material difference to forecasts for the first estimate of second quarter GDP growth, due tomorrow.
Chinese New Year effects were very visible in Japan's December trade data. Export growth slowed sharply to 9.3% year-over-year in December, from 16.2% in November.
Data released last week confirm that the Argentinian economy was resilient at the start of the year, but downside risks to growth have increased.
The 90-day truce in the trade wars between the U.S. and China, brokered on Saturday at the G20 meeting in Argentina, is a big deal for financial markets in the euro area, at least in the near term.
Japanese firms hand out a significant portion of labour compensation through bonuses, with the largest lump awarded in December.
China's FX reserves rose to $3119B in November from $3109B in October. But the increase is explained by simultaneous yen, euro and sterling strength, which raises the dollar value of assets denominated in these currencies.
Yesterday's manufacturing data in German threw off a nasty surprise.
The verdict is in.
Survey data have been signalling a relatively resilient Brazilian economy in the last few months, despite intensified political risk, and hard data are beginning to confirm this story.
New orders data increasingly suggest that German manufacturers all but shut their production lines at the start of the year.
The German manufacturing data remain terrible. Friday's factory orders report showed that new orders plunged 2.2% month-to-month in May, convincingly cancelling out the 1.1% cumulative increase in March and April.
The German economy's engine room continues to stutter.
The U.S. Presidential election will set the tone for LatAm's markets this week. Hillary Clinton's dwindling lead over Donald Trump in recent polls has unleashed pressure on EM assets.
Today's consumer credit report for April likely will show that the stock of debt rose by about $15B, a bit below the recent trend. The monthly numbers are volatile, but the underlying trend rate of increase has eased over the past year-and-a-half, as our first chart shows. The slowdown has been concentrated in the non-revolving component, though the rate of growth of the stock of revolving credit--mostly credit cards--has dipped recently, perhaps because of weather effects and the late Easter.
Demand for German manufacturing goods remained firm at the start of Q4. Data yesterday showed that factory orders increased 0.5% month-to-month in October, helped by gains in both export and domestic activity.
China's unadjusted current account was effectively in balance in Q2, after the deficit in Q1.
While we were out, Brazil's economic and political situation continued to improve, allowing the BCB to cut the Selic rate by 100bp to 9.25% at its July 26th meeting, matching expectations.
German manufacturing is in good shape, but probably is not as strong as implied by yesterday's surge in new orders. Factory orders jumped 5.2% month-to-month in December, rebounding strongly after a downwardly revised 3.6% fall in November. December's jump was the biggest monthly increase in two years, but it was flattered by a leap in bulk investment goods orders, mainly in the domestic market and other EZ economies.
As we go to press, equities in the Eurozone are having a bad day following the collapse in U.S. and Asian equities earlier.
Predicting which way markets would move in response to potential general election outcomes has been relatively straightforward in the past. But the usual rules of thumb will not apply when the election results filter through after polling stations close on Thursday evening.
The hard numbers in Eurozone manufacturing continue to lag the sharp rise in the main surveys. Data yesterday showed that German factory orders rose 1.0% month-to-month in May, only partially rebounding from a downwardly revised 2.2% plunge in April.
The Treasury has tried to dampen expectations for Tuesday's Spring Statement, which has replaced the Autumn Statement since the Budget was moved last year to November.
China's current account dropped sharply in Q1, to a deficit of $28.2B, from a surplus of $62.3B in Q4.
The rollover in bank lending to commercial and industrial companies probably is over. On the face of it, the slowdown has been alarming, with year-over-year growth in the stock of lending slowing to just 2.6% in April, from a sustained peak of more than 10% in the early part of last year.
Brazil's industrial sector is still struggling, despite recent signs of better economic and financial conditions.
The upturn in German manufacturing orders waned slightly towards the end of 2017; factory orders fell 0.4% month-to-month in November.
The Mexican inflation rate soared at the start of 2017, but this is yesterday's story; the headline will stabilize soon and will decline slowly towards the year-end. May data yesterday showed that inflation rose to 6.2%, from 5.8% in April. Prices fell 0.1% month-to-month unadjusted in May, driven mainly by lower non-core prices, which dropped by 1.3%, as a result of lower seasonal electricity tariffs.
China's trade surplus collapsed unexpectedly in April, to $13.8B, from a trivially-revised $32.4B in March.
Friday's German new orders data were sizzling. Factory orders jumped 3.6% month-to-month in August, pushing the year-over-year rate up to a nine-month high of 7.8%, from an upwardly-revised 5.4% in July.
Britain's productivity problem has been building under the surface for years, but it is set to be more pertinent now that the economy is close to full employment.
A flawed theory still is circulating that the economy might outperform over the next two quarters because firms will stockpile goods due to the risk of a no-deal Brexit.
December's payroll numbers were unexciting, exactly matching the 175K consensus when the 19K upward revision to November is taken into account. Some of the details were a bit odd, though, notably the 63K jump in healthcare jobs, well above the 40K trend, and the 19K drop in temporary workers, compared to the typical 15K monthly gain.
China's trade surplus tumbled to $20.3B in January, from $54.7B in December, surprising the consensus for little change.
Friday's factory orders report in Germany provided a bit of relief amid the gloom in manufacturing.
Demand for German manufacturing goods slipped at the end of Q3. Yesterday's report showed that factory orders fell 0.6% month-to-month in September, constrained by weakness in domestic demand and falling export orders to other EZ economies.
Demand in German manufacturing rebounded slightly at the end of Q1, though the overall picture for the sector remains grim.
Friday's industrial production report in Germany capped a miserable week for economic data in the Eurozone's largest economy.
We aren't convinced that China's recovery is in train just yet.
Total real inventories rose at a $48.7B annualized rate in the fourth quarter, contributing 1.0 percentage points to headline GDP growth. Wholesale durable goods accounted for $34B of the aggregate increase, following startling 1.0% month-to-month nominal increases in both November and December. The November jump was lead by a 3.2% leap in the auto sector, but inventories rose sharply across a broad and diverse range of other durables, including lumber, professional equipment, electricals and miscellaneous.
The recovery in small business sentiment since the fourth quarter rollover has been extremely modest, so far.
Negotiations between Greece and its creditors will come to a head in the next few weeks as the country faces imminent risk of running out of money. Following a meeting with the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, on Sunday Greek finance minister Faroufakis assured investors that the country intends to make a scheduled €450M payment to the fund on Thursday.
Brazil's industrial sector continues to suffer, despite September's report surprising marginally on the upside. Output contracted 1.3% month-to-month in September, after a 0.9% fall in August, pushing the year over-year rate down to -10.9% down from -8.8% in August. This is the biggest drop since April 2009. Output has fallen an eye-popping -7.4% year-to-date, and in the third quarter alone activity contracted by 3.2% quarter-on-quarter, in line with our vie w for a 1.2% contraction in real GDP for the third quarter.
The September consumption data were a bit better than median expectations, with real spending rebounding by 0.6%, led by an 15.1% leap in the new vehicle component.
Brazil's economic recovery faltered in the first quarter and the near-term outlook remains challenging.
Was this an isolated occurrence, connected to the graft investigation into Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua, and his financial conglomerate?
Mexico's financial markets and risk metrics plunged early this week, following the AMLO government's decision to cancel the construction of the new airport in Mexico City, after a public consultation held in the previous four days.
Industrial production data yesterday confirmed downside risks to Q4's GDP data in Brazil. Output fell 0.7% month-to-month in October, the fifth consecutive decline, pushing the year-over-year rate down to -11.2%, from -10.9% in September. This was the biggest drop since April 2009, when output collapsed by 14.2% during the global financial crisis. The October details were even worse than the headline, as all three broad-measures fell sharply.
Global monetary policy divergence has returned with a vengeance. In the U.S., despite recent soft CPI data, a resolute Fed has prompted markets to reprice rates across the curve.
Brazil's December industrial production and labour reports, released late last week, confirmed that the recovery was struggling at the end of last year.
Mr. Trump fired the shot everyone was expecting this week with a 10% tariff on $200B-worth of Chinese goods, and a pledge to lift the rate to 25% on January 1.
Defaults by Chinese companies have been on the rise lately. Most recently, China Energy, an oil and gas producer with $1.8B of offshore notes outstanding, missed a bond payment earlier this week. We've highlighted the likelihood of a rise in defaults this year, for three main reasons.
Brazil's external accounts remain solid, despite the recent modest deterioration.
Fiscal stimulus, partly financed by a border adjustment tax, and Fed rate hikes, were supposed to be a powerful cocktail driving a stronger dollar in 2017. But so far only the Fed has delivered--we expect another rate hike next month--while Mr. Trump has disappointed in the White House.
Argentina's Recession Has Ended, Supporting Mr. Macri's Odds
The deterioration of global risk appetite and, in particular, domestic politics have put the Brazilian real under severe pressure in recent weeks.
The resilience of the U.K. financial system will be in focus this week. On Tuesday, the Bank of England's Prudential Regulation Authority, the PRA, will publish the results of stress tests of the U.K.'s seven largest banks. Concurrently, the Bank's Financial Policy Committee, the FPC, will publish its semi-annual Financial Stability Report and announce whether it will deploy any of its macroprudential tools.
We have witnessed a dramatic shift in just a few weeks in perceptions of Mexico as an investment destination.
Japan's headline jobless rate edged up to 2.8% in December, from 2.7% in November, but the increase was negligible, with the rate moving to 2.76% from 2.74%.
December's money data likely will bring further signs that the U.K. economy's growth spurt late last year was paid for with unsecured borrowing. Retail sales fell by 1.9% month-to-month in December, so we doubt that unsecured borrowing will match November's £1.7B increase, which was the biggest since March 2005.
While we were out, most of the core domestic economic data were quite strong, with the exception of the soft July home sales numbers and the Michigan consumer sentiment survey.
Brazilian February industrial production data, released yesterday, were relatively positive. Output rose 0.1% month-to-month, pushing the yearover- year rate down to -0.8% from 1.4% in January. Statistical quirks were behind February's year-over-year fall, though.
The record 1,178-point drop in the Dow will garner all the headlines today, but a sense of perspetive is in order, despite the chaos. The 113-point, or 4.1%, fall in the S&P 500 was very startling, but it merely returned the index to its early December level; it has given up the gains only of the past nine weeks.
Brazilian data strengthened early in Q4, supporting the case for the COPOM to slow the pace of rate cuts. We expect the SELIC policy rate to be lowered by 50bp today, to 7.0%.
We've always said that China's first weapon, should the trade war escalate, is to do nothing and allow the RMB to depreciate.
The jump in the Caixin services PMI in the past two months looks erratic, with holiday effects playing a role, though there could be more going on here.
Industrial activity in LatAm, at least in the largest economies, is taking different paths.
The Brazilian industrial sector started this year on a very downbeat note, despite a 2% month-to-month jump in output. The underlying trend in activity is still very weak. Production fell 5.2% year-over-year.
Yesterday's industrial production report in Brazil was sizzling. Headline output jumped 0.8% month- to-month in April--well above the 0.4% consensus-- pushing the year-over-year rate up to 8.9%, a five- year high.
With only three weeks to go until the release of the initial official estimate of first quarter GDP, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow measure shows growth at just 0.4%. Our own estimate, which includes our subjective forecasts for the missing data--the Atlanta Fed's measure is entirely model-based--is a bit higher, at 1%, and both measures could easily be revised significantly.
Yesterday's Brazilian industrial production data were relatively upbeat.
The majority of headlines from last week's advance Q4 GDP data in the Eurozone--see here--were negative.
Brazil's key data flow started Q4 on a soft note, but we still believe that the economic recovery will gather strength over the next three-to-six months.
We remain optimistic on the scope for sterling to appreciate this year, reflecting our views that a deal for a soft Brexit will be reached soon and that the MPC will resume its tightening cycle later this year.
Just how low would sterling go in the event of a no-deal Brexit? When Reuters last surveyed economists at the start of June, the consensus was that sterling would settle between $1.15 and $1.20 and fall to parity against the euro within one month after an acrimonious separation on October 31.
The week started well for Brazil's President Bolsonaro.
Brazil's economic and fiscal outlook has worsened in recent months, and economic activity will likely contract even further in the short-term. Some of last week's economic reports, however, were a bit less bad than of late. The latest industrial production data were less bad than expected in August, but the picture is still very grim. Industrial output plunged 1.2% month-to-month, above the consensus, and allowing the annual rate to stabilize at -9% year-over-year.
The economic slowdown in China is old news for Eurozone investors.
Today's ECB meeting will be accompanied by an update of the staff projections, where the inflation outlook will be in the spotlight. The June forecasts predicted an average inflation rate of 0.3% year-over-year this year, currently requiring a rather steep increase in inflation towards 1.1% at the end of the year. We think this is achievable, but we doubt the ECB is willing to be as bold, and it is reasonable to assume this year's forecast will be revised down a notch.
Friday's final EZ CPI data for July confirm the advance report.
Japan's preliminary GDP report for Q4 is out on Thursday, and we expect to see a punchy number.
China faces three possible macro outcomes over the next few years. First, the economy could pull off an active transition to consumer-led growth. Second, it could gradually slide into Japan-style growth and inflation, with government debt spiralling up. Third, it could face a full blown debt crisis, where the authorities lose control and China drags the global economy down too
The economic data were mixed while we were away. The final PMI data showed that the composite PMI in the euro area fell to 53.1 in October, from 54.1 in September, somewhat better than the initial estimate, 52.7.
Japan's PPI inflation edged up further in November to 3.5%, from October's 3.4%. Energy was the main driver, with petroleum and coal contributing 0.8 percentage points to the year-over-year rate, up from a 0.7pp contribution in October.
In yesterday's Monitor, we lamented the lack of growth in the French economy. The outlook is not much brighter in Italy. We think Italian GDP was unchanged quarter-on-quarter in Q4, slightly better than the -0.1% consensus but still very soft.
Today's industrial production data in the Eurozone will extend the run of soft headlines at the start of the year.
China's trade surplus bounced back strongly in May, rising to $40.1B on our adjustment, from $35.7B previously.
Inflation appears no longer to be an issue for Mexican policymakers. The annual headline rate slowed to 3.0% year-over-year in February from 3.1% in January, in the middle of the central bank's target range, for the first time since May 2006.
China's unadjusted trade surplus collapsed in February, to just $4.1B, from $39.2B in January.
Chinese exports grew by just 5.5% in dollar terms year-over-year in August, down from 7.2% in July. Export growth continues to trend down, with a rise of just 0.2% in RMB terms in the three months to August compared to the previous three months, significantly slower than the 4.8% jump at the p eak in January.
We will be paying special attention to the sentiment surveys for Argentina over the coming weeks.
Manufacturing in the Eurozone rebounded midway through the second quarter.
We have no real argument with the consensus forecasts for the January CPI, with the headline likely to rise by 0.3%, with the core up 0.2%.
Japanese headline PPI inflation will edge higher in coming months as last year's rise in oil prices feeds through. But inflation in manufacturing goods, excluding processing, is microscopic and should soon roll over as pipeline pressures wane.
EZ survey data were solid in the fourth quarter, pointing to robust GDP growth, but numbers from the real economy have so far not lived up to the rosy expectations. Data yesterday showed that industrial production fell 0.7% month-to-month in November, pushing the year-over-year rate down to 1.1% from a revised 2.0% in October. Italian data today likely will force marginal revisions to the headline next month, but they are unlikely to change the big picture.
The January durable goods numbers, viewed in isolation, were not terrible.
The broad strokes of yesterday's ECB meeting were in line with markets' expectations. The central bank left its main refinancing and deposit rates unchanged, at 0.00% and -0.4% respectively, and maintained the same forward guidance.
China's M2 growth surprised on the upside in July, rising to 8.5% year-over-year, from 8.0% in June.
It is by now a familiar story that the Eurozone has become a supplier of liquidity to the global economy in the wake of the sovereign debt crisis.
LatAm currencies have suffered in recent weeks. Each country has its own story, so the currency hit has been uneven, but all LatAm economies share one factor: Fear of the start of a Fed tightening cycle.
Japan's Ministry of Finance yesterday admitted falsifying documents submitted to the country's parliament during a corruption probe last year.
In the olden days, by which we mean the 15 years or so leading up to the financial crisis, a 100bp rise in long yields would be enough to slow GDP growth by about three percentage points, other things equal, after a lag of about one year.
Another day, another solid economic report in the Eurozone. Data yesterday showed that industrial production in France jumped 2.2% month-to-month in November, pushing the year-over-year rate up to +1.8%, from -1.8% in October. The 2.3% jump in manufacturing output was the key story, offsetting a 0.3% decline in construction activity. Production of food and beverages rebounded from weakness in October, and oil refining also accelerated.
The French industrial sector ended last year on an upbeat note, but the underlying trend in activity is still weak. Industrial production rose 1.5% month-to-month in December, equivalent to a 0.1% fall year-over-year.
April's money and credit figures suggest that GDP growth has remained sluggish in Q2. Households' broad money holdings increased by just 0.3% month-to-month in April.
A quick rebound in growth, after the slowdown to a reported 2.6% in the fourth quarter, is unlikely.
China's FX reserves rose to $3,062B in November, from $3,053B on October. On the face of it, the increase is surprising.
Yesterday's CPI report in Mexico showed that inflation pressures are rising consistently. Headline inflation rose to 3.4% year-over-year in December, from 3.3% in November, above the mid-point of the central bank's 2-to-4% target range. Surging goods inflation and higher services prices--especially seasonal increases for package holidays and airline fares--were mainly to blame.
Japan's industrial production data for May carried more evidence that the economy is getting a lift--at least temporarily--from the front-loading of activity ahead of the scheduled sales tax increase in October.
The Redbook chain store sales survey used to be our favorite indicator of the monthly core retail sales numbers, but over the past year it has parted company from the official data. Year-over-year growth in Redbook sales has slowed to just 0.7% in February, from a recent peak of 4.6% in the year to December 2014
Samuel Tombs has more than a decade of experience covering the U.K. economy for investors. At Pantheon, Samuel's research is rigorous, free of dogma and jargon, and unafraid to challenge consensus views. His work focuses on what matters to professional investors: The links between the real economy, monetary policy and asset prices. He has a strong track record of getting the big calls right. The Sunday Times ranked Samuel as the most accurate forecaster of the U.K. economy in both 2014 and 2018. In addition, Bloomberg consistently has ranked Samuel as one of the top three U.K. forecasters, out of pool of 35 economists, throughout 2018 and 2019. His in-depth knowledge of market-moving data and his forensic forecasting approach explain why he consistently beats the consensus. Samuel's work on Brexit goes beyond simply reporting developments and is always analytical and unbiased, enabling investors to see through the noise of the daily headlines. While his analysis points to a particular path that politicians will take, he acknowledges the inherent uncertainty and draws out the economic and financial market implications of all plausible Brexit scenarios. Samuel holds an MSc in Economics from Birkbeck College, University of London and an undergraduate degree in History and Economics from the University of Oxford. Prior to joining Pantheon in 2015, he was Senior U.K. Economist at Capital Economics. In 2011, Samuel won the Society of Business Economists' prestigious Rybczynski Prize for an article on quantitative easing in the UK. He is based in London but frequently visits our other offices. Recent key calls include: 2018 - Correctly forecast that GDP growth would slow and inflation would undershoot the MPC's initial forecast, prompting the Committee to shock investors and almost other economists by waiting until August to raise Bank Rate, rather than pressing ahead in May. 2017 - Argued that the MPC was wrong to expect CPI inflation to stay below 3% following sterling's depreciation. He also highlighted that economic indicators pointed to the Conservatives losing their outright majority in the snap general election.
Miguel Chanco helps to produce Pantheon's Asia service, having covered several parts of the region for nearly ten years. He was most recently the Lead Analyst for ASEAN at the Economist Intelligence Unit. Prior to that role, Miguel focused on India and frontier markets in South Asia for Capital Economics and BMI Research, Fitch Group.
...The data were all over the map, with existing home sales plunging while consumer confidence rose; Chicago-area manufacturing activity plunged but national durable goods were flat; real consumption rose at a decent clip but pending home sales dipped again. Markets, by contrast, are little changed from the week before the holidays. What to make of it all?
Brazil's economic news remained grim at the headline level last week, but some of the details were less bad than in recent months. Industrial production fell by 13.8% year-over-year in January, down from the 12.1% drop in December and the worst performance on this basis since mid-2009.
Survey data have been signalling a stronger German economy in the last few months, and hard data are beginning to confirm this story. Data yesterday showed that industrial production rose 0.4% month-to-month in November, pushing the year-over-year rate up to 2.2%, from an upwardly-revised 1.6% in October. The headline was boosted mainly by a 1.5% month-to-month jump in construction and a 0.9% rise in intermediate goods production.
Japan's regular wage growth continued to edge up in November, maintaining the rising trend. The headline is volatile, with growth in labour cash earnings rising to 0.9% year-over-year in November, up from a downwardly revised 0.2% in October.
Friday was a busy day in the Eurozone economy. The third detailed GDP estimate confirmed that growth was unchanged at 0.4% quarter-on-quarter in Q2, pushing the year-over-year rate down by 0.4 percentage points to 2.1%, marginally below the first estimate,2.2%.
President Xi Jinping yesterday reiterated China's commitment to reform and the opening of its economy at a highly-anticipated speech at the Boao forum.
Japanese PPI inflation rose sharply to 2.6% in July from 2.2% in June, well above the consensus for a modest rise.
The resilience and adaptability that the Chilean economy has shown over previous cycles has been tested repeatedly over the last year. Uncertainty on the political front, falling metal prices, and growing concerns about growth in China have been the key factors behind expectations of slowing GDP growth.
German manufacturing snapped back at the end of summer. Industrial production jumped 2.6% month-to-month in August, pushing the year-over- year rate up to 4.7% from a revised 4.2% in July.
The CBO reckons that the April budget surplus jumped to about $179B, some $72B more than in the same month last year. This looks great, but alas all the apparent improvement reflects calendar distortions on the spending side of the accounts.
Bloomberg reported on Monday that the PBoC is drafting a package of reforms to give foreign investors greater access to the China's financial services sector. This could involve allowing foreign institutions to control their local joint ventures and raising the 25% ceiling on foreign ownership of Chinese banks.
Brazil's industrial sector had a relatively good start to the year. Data on Wednesday showed that production fell 0.1% month-to-month in January, less than markets expected, and the year-over-year rate rose to 1.4%, after a 0.1% drop in December.
Yesterday's economic data in Germany cemented the story of a strong start to the year, despite the disappointing headlines. Industrial production slipped 0.4% month-to-month in March, pushing the year-over-year rate down to +1.9% from a revised +2.0% in February.
Yesterday's EZ industrial production data for January confirmed the string of positive advance numbers from most of the individual economies.
China's FX reserves were little changed in June, at $3,112B.
Copom's meeting was the focal point this week in Brazil. The committee eased by 25bp for the second straight meeting, leaving the Selic rate at 13.75%, and it opened the door for larger cuts in Q1. Rates sat at 14.25% for 15 months before the first cut, in October. In this week's post-meeting statement, policymakers identified weak economic activity data, the disinflation process--actual and expectations--and progress on the fiscal front as the forces that prompted the rate cut.
The economic calendar in the euro area was relatively quiet over Christmas, and broadly conformed to our expectations.
Brazil's central bank again matched expectations on Wednesday, cutting the Selic rate by 100 basis points to 10.25%, without bias. The COPOM s aid that a "moderate reduction of the pace of monetary easing" would be "adequate".
The odds of a hike this month have increased in recent days, though the chance probably is not as high as the 82% implied by the fed funds future. The arguments against a March hike are that GDP growth seems likely to be very sluggish in Q1, following a sub-2% Q4, and that a hike this month would be seen as a political act.
On the face of it, British manufacturers are weathering the global slowdown well. The Markit/CIPS PMI jumped to 55.1 in March, from 52.1 in February, and now comfortably exceeds those for the Eurozone, U.S. and Japan.
Mexican policymakers voted last Thursday to hike the main rate by 25bp to 8.0%, the highest since early 2009.
Mexico's economic and financial outlook is deteriorating rapidly and hopes of a gradual recovery over the next three-to-six months are fading away after AMLO's missteps in recent months.
We need to take a closer look at the chance of a sustained rise in the labor participation rate, which is perhaps the single biggest risk to the idea that 2018 will be a good year for the stock market, with limited downside for Treasuries.
Chile's Q4 GDP report, released yesterday, confirmed that the economy accelerated at the end of last year, supported by rising capex and solid consumption.
We doubt that this week will see the MPC joining the list of other major central banks that have abandoned plans to raise interest rates this year.
In broad terms, the euro has followed the EZ economy in the past 12-to-18 months.
Brazil's central bank kept the Selic policy rate at 6.50% this week, as markets broadly expected.
Final inflation data yesterday confirmed Eurozone inflation pressures are still low. Inflation rose to 0.2% year-over-year in December from 0.1% in November, lifted by easing deflation in energy prices. Base effects likely will lift energy price inflation in January and February, but the year-over-year rate will dip in Q2, if the oil price remains depressed. Food inflation fell in December due to a decline in unprocessed food prices, and we see further downside in Q1. Core inflation was unchanged, with the key surprise that services inflation fell to 1.1% from 1.2% in November. We think this dip will be temporary, however, and our first chart shows that risks to services inflation are tilted to the upside.
EURUSD has been battered in recent months, falling just over 6% since the end of April, but almost all indicators we look at suggest that the it will weake further towards 1.10, in the second half of the year.
One way or the other, the post-referendum lurch in sterling will make its recent gyrations pale by comparison. If the U.K. votes to remain in the E.U.--as we continue to expect--then sterling likely will jump up to about $1.48 immediately afterwards. As our first chart shows, the gap between sterling and the level implied by the current difference between overnight index swap rates in the U.S. and Britain is currently about $0.05.
The 0.8% jump in nominal November retail sales is consistent with a 0.4% rise in real total consumption, which in turn suggests that the fourth quarter as a whole is likely to see a near-3% annualized gain.
Eurozone current account data yesterday provided further evidence of stabilisation in the economy despite a headline deterioration. The adjusted current account surplus fell to €18.1B in November from a revised €19.5B in October, but the decline was mainly driven by an increase in current transfers; the core components remain solid.
The euro area's current account surplus stumbled at the end of 2017, falling to €29.9B in December from an upwardly-revised €35.0B in November.
Brazil's September industrial production report, released yesterday, confirmed the message from survey data that the sector stabilized towards the end of summer. Output rose 0.5 month-to-month, and August output was revised up by 0.3 percentage points.
The two key planks of the argument that a substantial easing of fiscal policy won't be inflationary are that labor participation will be dragged higher, limiting the decline in the unemployment rate, while productivity growth will rebound, so unit labor costs will remain under control.
Construction in the euro area stumbled at the end of last year. Output fell 0.2% month-to-month in December, but the year-over-year rose to 2.4%, from a revised 1.6% in November.
Yesterday's ECB bank lending survey suggests that credit conditions remain favourable for the EZ economy. Credit standards eased slightly for business and mortgage lending and were unchanged for consumer credit.
The EZ's current account surplus was stung at the end of Q3, falling to a three-year low of €16.9B in September, from a revised €23.9B in August.
The most important retail sales report of the year, for December, won't be published today, unless some overnight miracle means that the government has re-opened.
Last week's packed political agenda in Europe confirmed that political relations between the U.S. and the major Eurozone economies remain difficult.
Markets' reaction last week to the ECB's October meeting accounts--see here--shows that investors are beginning to take seriously the idea of an inflection point in Eurozone monetary policy.
Two key points can be extracted from the minutes of the last BCB meeting, when policymakers increased the Selic interest rate by 50bp to 12.75%. First, the bank recognized that the balance of risks to inflation has deteriorated, due to the huge adjustment of regulated prices and the BRL's depreciation, but it specifically referred only to "this year" in the communiqué.
Inflation in the Eurozone jumped in December, and will surge further in Q1 as base effects from last year's crash in oil prices push energy inflation higher. Higher inflation in the U.S. and surging Chinese factory gate prices indicate that this isn't just a Eurozone story.
China's September trade numbers show that, far from reducing the surplus with the U.S., the trade wars so far have pushed it up to a new record.
Data released yesterday showed that gross fixed investment in Mexico started Q4 on a decent note, increasing on the back of healthy purchases of imported machinery and equipment and construction spending.
Yesterday's inflation data in Germany were old news to markets, but the details were spectacular all the same.
Japanese leading indicators point to a slowdown, and the trend over this volatile year is emerging as firmly downward.
The cyclical upturn in the euro area's economy is going from strength to strength. Yesterday's second Q2 GDP estimate confirmed growth at 0.6% quarter- on-quarter, marginally stronger than the 0.5% rise in the first quarter.
The Eurozone's trade surplus remained subdued at the end of the second quarter; it dipped to €16.7B in June from €16.9B in May.
Hard data on Mexico's industrial sector for the last couple of months have highlighted major divergences across sectors.
Judging by conversations we have had with investors since October, the idea that the Fed will be willing to let inflation overshoot the 2% target for a time has become received wisdom in the markets.
Japan's trade surplus is set to fall in coming months, as domestic demand remains robust, while recent oil price increases will be a drag, lifting imports.
China is a collection of hugely disparate provinces and cities. Managing all these cities with one interest rate is always difficult but in this cycle it is proving to be nearly impossible.
Economic data in Brazil over the second quarter were relatively positive, and June reports released in recent weeks, coupled with leading indicators for July, are encouraging.
Colombia's December activity reports confirmed that quite strong retail sales last year were less accompanied by local production, which became only a minor driver of the economic recovery, as shown in our first chart.
Your correspondent is headed to the beach for the next couple of weeks, with publication resuming on Tuesday, September 4.
The Eurozone's sovereign bond markets are dying, and this is a good thing, by and large.
Japan's PPI inflation likely has peaked, with commodities still in the driving seat. Manufactured goods price inflation will soon start to slow, following the downshift in China's numbers.
Last week, the MBA's measure of the volume of applications for new mortgages to finance house purchase rose 1.7%.
The Eurozone's external surplus fell further at the end of Q1, and has now fully reversed the jump at the start of the year.
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson discussing Durable Goods Orders in May
So much has changed in China over the last six months that we are taking the opportunity in this Monitor to step back and gain an overview of where the economy is going in the long term.
The Eurozone's external surplus is on track for a record-breaking year in 2016. Data yesterday showed that the current account surplus rose to €28.4B in October, from €27.7B in September. The trade surplus in goods fell, but this drag was offset by a higher services and income surplus, and a lower current transfers deficit.
Brazil's economic outlook is gradually improving following a challenging Q2, which was hit by political risk, putting business and consumer confidence under pressure.
China's FX reserves continued to climb in December, reaching $3.140T, up from $3.119T in November, with currency valuation effects negligible.
China's export data shows little impact from trade tensions so far.
The danse macabre between Greece and its creditors continued last week, increasing the risk of default and capital controls. Greek citizens don't want to leave the euro and Germany does not want a Grexit, two positions which should eventually form the basis for an agreement.
Industrial production in Eurozone had a decent start to the fourth quarter. Output ex-construction rose 0.6% month-to-month in October, pushing the year-over-year rate up to 1.9% from a revised 1.3% in September. Production was lifted by gains in the major economies, and surging output in the Netherlands, Portugal and Lithuania. Across sectors, increases in production of capital and consumer goods were the main drivers, but energy output also helped, due to a cold spell lifting demand and production in France.
The minutes of the September 19/20 FOMC meeting record that "...it was noted that the National Federation of Independent Business reported that greater optimism among small businesses had contributed to a sharp increase in the proportion of small firms planning increases in their capital expenditures."
Politics remain centre-stage in Brazil, despite positive news on the economic front. President Michel Temer's government continues to advance pension reform, despite the tight calendar and concerns about his political capital. But volatility is on the rise.
The combination of weather effects and the meltdown in the oil sector make it very hard to spot the underlying trend in manufacturing activity. The sudden collapse in oil-related capital spending likely is holding down production of equipment, but the data don't provide sufficient detail to identify the hit with any precision.
The ECB's negative interest rate policy--NIRP--has come under the spotlight following the violent selloff in Eurozone bank equities. Mr. Draghi reassured markets and the EU parliament earlier this week that new regulation, stronger capital buffers, and common recognition of non-performing loans have made Eurozone banks stronger.
Oil and gas extraction, and the drilling of wells to facilitate extraction, accounts for only 2.0% of GDP, but it punches far above its weight when it comes to capital spending.
We have been arguing for some time that the drag on growth from falling capital spending in the oil sector would fade to nothing in the third quarter, and would then likely be followed by a small increase in the fourth quarter. But we seem to have been too cautious. It now seems much more likely that oil capex will rebound strongly as soon as the third quarter, following the clear upturn in the rig count data produced by Baker Hughes, Inc.
We have argued consistently since oil prices first began to fall that U.S. consumers would spend most of their windfall, so real spending would accelerate even as nominal retail sales growth was dragged down by the drop in the price of gas and other imported goods. At the same time, we argued that capital spending in the oil business would collapse, and that exports would struggle in the face of the stronger dollar.
The new Argentinian president has started to clean up the mess left by his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. President Mauricio Macri lifted capital controls, and let the ARS float freely yesterday. The peso tumbled about 30%, getting close to 14 ARS per USD, where it had been trading in the black market. The government also announced that it is on track to receive about USD 12-to-15B, to build up the battered foreign reserves, and to contain any overshooting. This money will come through many channels, for example, grain producers have announced that they will sell about USD400M a day over the coming weeks.
November production data in Mexico, released Monday, showed that the industrial economy remained quite soft in the last part of last year. The collapse in capital spending in the oil sector, slowing public spending, and weaker growth in EM and the U.S. manufacturing sector have combined to hit Mexican industrial output quite hard. Total production rose just 0.1% year-over-year in November, down from an already weak 0.5% in October, and below the 1.3% average increase in Q3. Output fell 0.5% month-to-month, the biggest drop since May, reflecting broad-based weakness.
The Fed will raise rates by 25 basis points today, 11 years and six months since the previous tightening cycle began, in June 2004. This tightening, like that one, will end in recession eventually, but this time around we expect a garden-variety business cycle downturn rather than a massive financial crash and a near-death experience for global capitalism.
Industrial production and trade data on Friday ended last week on a downbeat note, amid otherwise solid economic reports. In Germany, industrial output fell 0.3% month-to-month in November, pushing the year-over-year rate down to 0.1% from a revised 0.4% in October. The details, however, were better than the headline. Production was hit by a 3.3% plunge in capital goods output, offsetting gains in all other key sectors, and net revisions added 0.3% to the October data.
A mix of political and economic events have triggered outflows of capital from emerging markets this year. Tensions in Europe, due to the "Grexit" saga, together with China's slowdown and concerns about Fed lift-off have weighed on EM flows. In recent months, though, some of the pressure on EM currencies has eased as the markets have come to expect fewer U.S. rate hikes in the near term.
The manufacturing sector is much more exposed to external forces--the dollar, and global growth--than the rest of the economy. But much of the slowdown in the sector over the past year-and-a-half, we think, can be traced back to the impact of plunging oil prices on capital spending in the sector.
We have lost count of the number of times the drop in the ISM manufacturing survey, in the wake of the plunge in oil prices, was a harbinger o f recession across the whole economy. It wasn't, because the havoc wreaked in the industrial economy by the collapse in capital spending in the oil sector was contained.
November's money and credit figures brought welcome news that the recovery in bank lending is strengthening. This revival should continue, now that banks have completed most of the work required to improve their capital positions. But we doubt lending will recover quickly enough to prevent the economic recovery slowing in 2016, as the downward pressure on growth from the fiscal squeeze and the strong pound builds.
The worst is over for manufacturers, we think. The three major forces depressing activity in the sector last year--namely, the strong dollar, the slowdown in China, and the collapse in capital spending in the oil sector--will be much less powerful this year.
Sterling soared yesterday following news that Britain and the EU have agreed the terms of the transition period from March 2019, which will ensure that goods, services, capital and people continue to move freely, until December 2020.
The pressures on U.S. manufacturers are changing. For most of this year to date, the problem has been the collapse in capital spending in the oil business, which has depressed overall investment spending, manufacturing output and employment. Oil exploration is extremely capital-intensive, so the only way for companies in the sector to save themselves when the oil prices collapsed was to slash capex very quickly.
Chancellor George Osborne has invested considerable personal capital in attaining a budget surplus by the end of this parliament, and he has passed a 'law' to ensure he and his successors achieve this goal. But the current fiscal plans, which will be reviewed in the Budget on March 16, make a series of optimistic assumptions on future tax revenues and spending savings.
Brazil's interim government has been trying to put the kibosh on the vicious circle of recession, capital outflows, and political pandering that has dogged the country for so long. In his first few weeks at the helm, despite the political turmoil, Mr. Temer has started to tackle Brazil's fiscal mess, the country's biggest headache.
For some time now, we have puzzled over the softness of small firms' capital spending intentions, as measured by the monthly NFIB survey.
For some time now we have argued that collapse in capital spending in the oil sector was the source of most of the softening of activity in the manufacturing and wholesaling sectors last year.
We're pretty sure our forecast of a levelling-off in capital spending in the oil sector will prove correct. Unless you think the U.S. oil business is going to disappear, capex has fallen so far already that it must now be approaching the incompressible minimum required for replacement parts and equipment needed to keep production going.
Industrial production in Germany had a decent start to the third quarter. Output rose 0.7% month-to-month in July, less than we and the consensus expected, but the 0.5% upward revision to the June data brings the net headline almost in line with forecasts. Rebounds of 2.8% and 3.2% month-to-month in the capital goods and construction sectors respectively were the key drivers of the gain, following similar falls in June. A 3.2% fall in consumer goods production, however, was a notable drag.
If you had asked us in the spring where the action would be in capital spending over the summer, we would have said that the housing component was the best bet. Right now, though, the opposite seems more likely, with housing likely to be the weakest component of capex.
The Mexican economy had a decent start to the year thanks to resilient domestic demand, but hampered by the rollover in capital spending in the oil sector and the slowdown in manufacturing activity. Economic activity expanded 2.2% year-over-year in the second quarter, down from 2.6% in the first quarter, but the underlying trend remains reasonably solid.
Manufacturing activity in Germany rebounded at the start of the fourth quarter, following a miserable Q3. New orders jumped 1.8% month-to-month in October, lifted by increases in consumer and capital goods orders, both domestic and export. But the year-over-year rate fell to -1.4%, from a revised -0.7% in September, due to unfavorable base effects, and the three-month trend remained below zero. Our first chart shows that non-Eurozone export orders are the key drag, with export orders to other euro area economies doing significantly better.
Political risks in the periphery have simmered constantly during this cyclical recovery, but they have increased recently. In Italy, the government is scrambling to find a solution to rid its ailing banking sector of bad loans. But recapitalisation via a bad bank is not possible under new EU rules.
Brazil's interim government has been trying to put the kibosh on the vicious circle of recession, capital outflows, and political pandering that has dogged the country for so long. In his first few weeks at the helm, despite the political turmoil, Mr. Temer has started to tackle Brazil's fiscal mess, the country's biggest headache.
Brazil's interim government has been trying to put the kibosh on the vicious circle of recession, capital outflows, and political pandering that has dogged the country for so long. In his first few weeks at the helm, despite the political turmoil, Mr. Temer has started to tackle Brazil's fiscal mess, the country's biggest headache.
London has been the U.K.'s growth star for the last two decades. Between 1997 and 2014, yearover-year growth in nominal Gross Value Added averaged 5.4% in London, greatly exceeding the 4% rate across the rest of the country. Surveys since the referendum, however, indicate that the capital is at the sharp end of the post-referendum downturn.
In one line: Just a valuations drag; net capital outflows up modestly
In one line: Are capital flows pointing to a stronger euro?
Capital outflow pressure is slowly rebuilding.
The second estimate of Eurozone GDP confirmed that the economy grew 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in the final three months of last year, up slightly from 0.2% in the third quarter. Gross fixed capital formation and household consumption both rose 0.4%, but the improving trend in euro area GDP growth is almost exclusively driven by consumer spending.
The collapse in capital spending in the oil sector last year was the biggest single drag on the manufacturing sector, by far. The strong dollar hurt too, as did the slowdown in growth in China, but most companies don't export anything. Capex has fallen in proportion to the drop in oil prices, so our first chart strongly suggests that the bottom of the cycle is now very near.
Factory orders in Germany probably jumped in September, following a string of losses in the beginning of Q3. We think new orders rose 1.0% month-to-month, pushing the year-over-year rate slightly lower, to 1.8% from 2.0% in August. A rebound in non- Eurozone export orders likely will be the key driver of the monthly gain, following a 14.8% cumulative plunge in the previous two months. The rise will be concentrated in capital and consumer goods, and should be enough to offset a fall in export orders within the euro area. Our forecast is consistent with new orders falling 2.0% quarter-on-quarter in Q3, partly reversing the 3.0% surge in the second quarter, and raising downside risks for production in Q4.
German industrial output was off to a sluggish start in the fourth quarter. Production eked out a marginal 0.2% month-to-month gain in October, pushing the year-over-year rate down to 0.0% from a revised 0.4% in September. Manufacturing output rose 0.6%, led by a 2.7% jump in production of capital goods, but the underlying trend in the sector overall is flat. On a more positive note, construction output rose 0.7% month-to-month in October, and leading indicators suggest this could be the beginning of a string of gains, lifting investment spending in coming quarters.
The nominal value of orders for non-defense capital equipment, excluding aircraft, fell by 3.4% last year. This was less terrible than 2015, when orders plunged by 8.4%, but both years were grim when compared to the average 7.5% increase over the previous five years.
We argued in the Monitor yesterday that the plunge in capital spending on equipment in the oil sector could cost about 300K jobs over the course of this year. Adding in the potential hit from falling spending on structures, which likely will occur over a longer period, given the lead times in the construction process, the payroll hit this year could easily be 500K, or just over 40K per month.
The steady decline in mortgage rates since the financial crisis has helped to underpin strong growth in household spending. Existing borrowers have been able to refinance loans at ever-lower interest rates, while the proportion of first-time buyers' incomes absorbed by interest and capital payments has declined to a record low. As a result, the proportion of annual household incomes taken up by interest payments has fallen to 4.6%, from a peak of 10% in 2008.
The advance trade data for February make it very likely that today's full report will show the headline deficit rose by about $½B compared to March, thanks to rising net imports of both capital and consumer goods, which were only partly offset by improvements in the oil and auto accounts.
The renewed slide in oil prices in recent weeks will crimp capital spending, at the margin, but it is not a macroeconomic threat on the scale of the 2014-to-16 hit.
Last week the Chinese authorities issued a series of new measures to help with bank recapitalisation, and, we think, to supplement interbank liquidity.
We are intrigued by the idea that the rollover in oil firms' capital spending on equipment might already be over, even as spending on new well-drilling--captured by the still-falling weekly operating rigs data--continues to decline. The evidence to suggest equipment spending has fallen far enough is straightforward.
The first estimate of Q1 growth will show that the economy struggled in the face of the severe winter and, to a lesser extent, the rollover in capital spending in the oil sector. But the weather hit appears to have been much smaller than last year, when the economy shrank at a 2.1% rate in the first quarter; this time, we think the economy expanded at an annualized rate of 1.1%.
Capex data by industry are available only on an annual basis, with a very long lag, so we can't directly observe the impact the collapse in the oil sector has had on total equipment spending. But we can make the simple observation that orders for non-defense capital goods were rising strongly and quite steadily-- allowing for the considerable noise in the data--from mid-2013 through mid-2014, before crashing by 9% between their September peak and the February low. It cannot be a coincidence that this followed a 55% plunge in oil prices.
Brazil's recession eased considerably in the first quarter, due mainly to a slowing decline in gross fixed capital formation, a strong contribution from net exports, and a sharp, albeit temporary, rebound in government spending. Real GDP fell 0.3% quarter-on-quarter, much less bad than the revised 1.3% contraction in Q4.
The newly-revised data on capital goods orders, released on Friday, support our view that sustained strength in business capex remains a good bet for this year.
The astonishing 86% annualized plunge in capital spending in mining structures--mostly oil wells--alone subtracted 0.6 percentage points from headline GDP growth in the first quarter. The collapse was bigger than we expected, based on the falling rig count, but the key point is that it will not be repeated in the second quarter.
Ian Shepherdson, Pantheon Macroeconomics, and Said Haidar, Haidar Capital Management, discuss the market, economic and geopolitical impacts of the Trump administration's trade actions.
Early results project that Andrés Manuel López Obrador--AMLO--will become the new Mexican president with 53.4% of the votes, against Ricardo Anaya's 22.6%, and José Antonio Meade's 15.7%. AMLO has declared victory and thanked his opponents, who recognized his triumph.
Ryan Payne, Payne Capital Management president, and Ian Shepherdson, Pantheon Macroeconomics founder and chief U.S. economist, discuss what to expect for the markets and economy after a shaky October.
Why is the EZ current account surplus rising and net exports falling at the same time?
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on Nationwide's June House Price Index
Chief Asia economist Freya Beamish on the weak yuan
Chief U.S. economist Ian Shepherdson comments on U.S Q4 GDP
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