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Evidence of slowing growth in Eurozone consumers' spending continues to mount. Retail sales in the euro area fell 0.5% month-to-month in March, pushing the year-over-rate down to 2.1% from a revised 2.7% in February. The headline likely was depressed by the early Easter. March had one trading day less than February, which was not picked up the seasonals.
Consumers' spending in the Eurozone slowed in the second half of 2017, providing a favourable base for growth in H1 2018.
Eurozone consumers' spending jumped in Q2, but we are pretty certain that a slowdown in retail sales constrained growth in Q3.
The winds of global politics are changing, and the major Eurozone countries could be forced to take heed. Donald Trump's foreign policy position remains highly uncertain. Our Chief Economist, Ian Shepherdson, expects the U.S. to increase defence spending next year; see the U.S. Monitor of October 20.
A rebound in quarter-on-quarter growth in households' spending in Q2, following the slowdown to just 0.2% in Q1, looks less likely following April's money data.
The economic recovery would have lost more momentum last year had consumers not delved so deeply into their pockets. Real household spending increased by 0.7% and 0.8% quarter-on-quarter in Q3 and Q4 respectively, in contrast to investment and exports, which fell in both quarters.
Consumers' spending in the euro area weakened at the end of Q4, but we think households will continue to boost GDP growth in the first quarter. Data on Friday showed that retail sales fell 0.3% month-to-month in December, pushing the year-over-year rate down to 1.1%, from a revised 2.8% in November.
EZ consumers' spending slowed at the start of Q3. Retail sales slipped 0.3% month-to-month in July, pushing the year-over-year rate down to 2.6% from an upwardly revised 3.3% in June.
The rate of growth of Brazil consumers' spending is perhaps beginning to stabilize, though at a very low pace. Core retail sales volumes were flat in Q4 after a 2.7% contraction in Q3, and sentiment data suggest this improving trend should continue, at least in the very near term.
Developments over the last month have heightened our concern about the near-term outlook for households' spending.
The proportion of households' annual incomes absorbed by servicing debt has declined steadily this decade, providing a powerful boost to spending. Indeed, the proportion of annual incomes accounted for by interest payments--mainly on mortgages--edged down a record low of 4.6% in Q1, less than half the share in 2008.
Evidence of slowing growth in Brazil consumers' spending continues to mount.
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.
It's much too soon to have a very firm view on fourth quarter GDP growth, not least because almost half the quarter hasn't happened yet.
The remarkably strong existing home sales numbers in recent months, relative to the pending home sales index, are hard to explain. In January, total sales reached 5.69M, some 6% higher than the 5.35M implied by December's pending sales index. The gap between the series has widened in recent months, as our first chart shows, and we think the odds now favor a correction in today's February report.
Whichever way you choose to slice the numbers, consumers' spending is growing much more slowly than is implied by an array of confidence surveys.
Consumption and investment spending by state and local government accounts for just over 10% of the U.S. economy, making it more important than exports or consumers' spending on durable goods, and roughly equal to all business investment in equipment and intellectual property.
Retail sales in Mexico plunged at the end of Q4, but we think households' spending will continue to contribute to GDP growth in the first quarter.
The national accounts for the fourth quarter showed that the economy relied on households slashing their saving rate to a record low in order to spend more. Now, growth in consumer spending will have to fall back in line with real incomes, which will increasingly be impaired by rising inflation.
While we were out, the data showed that consumers' confidence has risen very sharply since the election, hitting 15-year highs, but actual spending has been less impressive and housing market activity appears poised for a marked slowdown.
Slower growth in households' spending was the main reason why the economy lost momentum last year.
The slowdown in retail sales in the first quarter and the recent pick-up in the number of retailers seeking protection from creditors begs the question: are consumers retrenching, or just spending their money elsewhere?
the past few observations make clear. Real spending jumped by 0.5% in March, rebounding after its weather-induced softness in February, before stalling again in April. Then, in May, the s urge in new auto sales to a nine-year high lifted total spending again, driving a 0.6% real increase.
Mexican consumers started the third quarter strongly, supporting our relatively upbeat view for the economy in the near term. Private consumption represents about 70% of Mexico's GDP, one of the consumption shares in the EM world, so the strength of spending is hugely important.
According to the official data presented in the JOLTS report, the number of job openings across the U.S. rose gently from 2011-to 13, rocketed in 2014, trended upwards much more slowly from 2015-to-17, and then, finally, unexpectedly jumped to record highs in the spring of this year.
Mexican consumers' spending improved toward the end of Q2. Retail sales jumped by 1.0% month-to-month in June, pushing the year-over-year rate up to 9.4%, from an already solid 8.6% in May. Still, private spending lost some momentum in the second quarter as a whole, rising by 2.5% quarter-on-quarter, after a 3.8% jump in Q1. A modest slowdown in consumers' spending had to come eventually, following surging growth rates in the initial phases of the recovery.
Economic theory tells us that government spending should be counter-cyclical, but recent experience in the Eurozone tells a slightly different story. The contribution to GDP growth from government spending rose during the boom from 2004 to 2007, and remained expansionary as the economy fell off the cliff in 2008. As the economy slowed again following the initial recovery, the sovereign debt crisis hit, driving a severe pro-cyclical fiscal hit to the economy.
Data yesterday suggest Eurozone consumers' spending rebounded towards the end of Q4. Retail sales rose 0.3% month-to-month in December, pushing the year-over-year rate down to 1.4%, from a revised 1.6% in November. A +0.3 percentage point net revision to the month-to-month data added to the optimism, but was not enough to prevent a slowdown over the quarter as a whole.
The initial "official estimate" of the French presidential election--released 20.00 CET--suggest that the runoff will be between the centre-right Emmanuel Macron and Front National's Marine Le Pen. This is consistent with opinion polls. The average of five early estimates also suggests that Mr. Macron won the vote with 23.1% of the vote against Mrs. Le Pen's 22.5%.
Brazil's government announced on Monday spending cuts and new tax increases, aiming to generate a 0.7% of GDP primary surplus, and so restore market confidence and avoid further credit rating downgrades. The plan is to reduce expenditure by BRL26B next year--or 0.4% of GDP--mainly through freezing public sector salaries and slashing social projects. These measures, especially the latter, will likely meet strong resistance in Congress. The salary freeze has more of a chance of passing, but reducing or closing some Ministries is a cost-cutting exercise with an extremely high political price.
Early results suggest that Mr. Macron has comfortably beat Marine Le Pen to become French president, defying a leak of emails and other documents from his En Marche campaign over the weekend. The final results won't be published until Monday morning, but the initial estimate indicates that Mr. Macron will edge Ms. Le Pen by 65.1% to 34.9%.
Survey data in the Eurozone were mixed yesterday. In Germany, the advance GfK consumer sentiment index slipped to 10.0 in October, from 10.2 in September, marginally below consensus forecasts. The details, reported for September, also were soft.
Yesterday's data in the French economy provided the final confirmation that growth remained sluggish in Q2, and showed that households had a slow start to the third quarter.
Guo Shuqing, head of the newly formed China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, has been named as Party Secretary for the PBoC.
December's money and credit figures suggest that households are in no fit state to step up and drive the economy forwards this year.
We think today's consumer sentiment survey in France will show that the headline index was unchanged at 94 in May. The survey's forward looking components have weakened modestly in recent months, due to declines in households' outlook for their financial situation and standard of living in the coming 12 months.
Friday's economic data in Germany suggest that households had a slow start to the year.
The PMI survey points to a slight loss of momentum in Eurozone growth towards the end of Q3. The composite index fell to 53.6 in September from 54.3 in August, trivially lower than the initial estimate of 53.9. This is not enough to move the needle on the survey's signal for Q3 GDP growth, though; our first chart shows it pointing to stable growth of 0.4% quarter-on-quarter.
Yesterday's economic reports in the Eurozone will rekindle the debate on hard versus soft data. The final composite PMI rose to 56.7 in September, from 55.7 in August, in line with the first estimate.
The economy would have ground to a halt last year had households not reduced their saving rate sharply.
The widespread view, which we share, that GDP will rebound in Q2 following the disruption caused by bad weather in Q1, was supported yesterday by the E.C.'s Economic Sentiment survey.
The first point to make about today's Q1 GDP growth number is that whatever the BEA publishes, you probably should add 0.9 percentage points.
Volatility and risk will remain high in L atAm for the foreseeable future. President-elect Donald Trump's uncertain foreign policies could have a considerable impact on LatAm economies in the months and years ahead.
Industrial data released this week showed that the Mexican economy stumbled during the second quarter. Private consumption, however, continues to rise, albeit at a more modest pace than in recent months. The ANTAD same store sales survey rose 5.3% year-over-year in June, up from 2.8% in May, but this is misleading.
Recent retail surveys have indicated that consumers are not suffering yet from Brexit blues. The BRC reported that year-over-year growth in total sales values picked up to 1.9% in July, from 0.2% in June. After adjusting for falling prices, this measure suggests that year-over-year growth in official retail sales volumes held steady at about 4% last month.
Last week's consumption releases were the first data from the real economy in the second quarter. In Germany, retail sales jumped 1.7% month-to-month in April, equivalent to a 1.0% rise year-over-year, an impressive start to the quarter. But our first chart shows that this still points to a moderate slowdown in Q2, consistent with mean-reversion following rapid gains in Q4 and Q1.
The substantial, though incomplete, rebound in the September ISM manufacturing survey is consistent with our view that the outlook for the industrial economy right now is better than at any time since before the crash in oil prices
Today's March retail sales report will likely disappoint, despite the already- downbeat consensus forecast of a 0.7% month-to-month fall. We think sales fell 1.2%, equivalent to a 1.3% increase year-over-year, due mostly to the bigger-than-expected 2.3% plunge in German sales, reported too late to be incorporated in the Bloomberg consensus.
The national accounts, released on Friday, likely will restate that quarter-on-quarter GDP growth picked up to 0.4% in Q3, from 0.3% in Q2.
January's retail sales figures, released today, look set to indicate that consumers are keeping the recovery going, amid deteriorating business sentiment and faltering external trade.
The headline in yesterday's detailed Q1 German GDP data was old news, confirming that growth in the euro area's largest economy slowed at the start of the year.
Japan will host the Olympics in 2020 and the preparatory surge in construction investment makes 2017-to-2018 the peak spending period.
The recent deceleration in households' real spending means that either business investment or net exports will have to pickup if the economy is to avoid a severe slowdown this year.
Under normal circumstances, we would expect today's retail sales figures to reveal that volumes rebounded in February, following the 2.7% fall over the previous three months. But the continued weakness of spending surveys suggests that we should brace for another soft report.
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.
Whether the economy enters recession will hinge more on corporate behaviour than on consumers. Household spending accounts for about two thirds of GDP, but it is a relatively stable component of demand. By contrast, business investment and inventories--which are often overlooked--are prone to wild swings.
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.
Both the Prime Minister and Chancellor last week threatened to cut business taxes aggressively to persuade multinationals to remain in Britain in the event of hard Brexit. But these threats lack credibility, given the likely lingering weakness of the public finances by the time of the U.K.'s departure from the EU and the scale of demographic pressures set to weigh on public spending over the next decade.
Yesterday's advance consumer sentiment index in the Eurozone confirmed the upside risks for consumers' spending in Q4. The headline index rose to a 17- year high of +0.1 in November, from -1.0 in October.
The question of what's really happening to the pace of layoffs is still unanswered, despite the apparent upturn over the past couple of months. The weekly jobless claims numbers are only just emerging from the fog of the usual holiday season chaos. The pattern of pre-holiday hiring and post-holiday layoffs is broadly the same each year, but Christmas and New Year's Day fall on a different day each year, making seasonal adjustment difficult.
On the face of it, the surge in retail sales volumes in September suggests that the U.K. consumer is in fine fettle and can prevent the economic recovery from losing momentum as exporters struggle and government spending retrenches. But the underlying picture is less encouraging and consumers won't be able to sustain the recent robust growth in real spending when inflation revives next year.
The Colombian economy has been able to grow this year despite the plunge in oil prices since the middle of 2014. Gains in consumers' spending and investment have offset part of the hit from falling exports. But private spending growth, nonetheless, slowed considerably during the first few months of the year, as shown in our char t below, in part due to rising prices for imported goods after the depreciation of the COP, as well as broad-based concerns over the state of the economy.
Data this week confirmed that private spending in Colombia stumbled in June. Retail sales fell 0.7% year-over-year, from an already poor -0.4% in May. The underlying trend is negative, following two consecutive declines, for the first time since late 2009. Domestic demand remains subdued as consumers are scaling back spending due to weaker real incomes, lower confidence and tighter credit and labor market conditions.
The tone of today's FOMC statement likely will be different to the gloomy April missive, which began with a list of bad news: "...economic growth slowed during the winter months, in part reflecting transitory factors. The pace of job gains moderated... underutilization of labor resources was little changed. Growth in household spending declined... Business fixed investment softened, the recovery in the housing sector remained slow, and exports declined."
Yesterday's economic activity data from Peru signalled that the relatively firm business cycle continues. The monthly GDP index accelerated to 3.6% year-over-year in November, rising from 2.1% in October, but marginally below the 4.4% on average in Q3. Growth continued to be driven by mining output, including oil and gas, which rose 15% year-over- year. The opening of several new mines explains the upturn, and we expect the sector to remain key for the Peruvian economy this year.
Today brings yet another broad array of data, with new information on housing construction, industrial production, consumer sentiment, and job openings.
EZ households' demand for new cars was off to a strong start in 2017. Car registrations in the euro area jumped 10.9% year-over-year in January, accelerating from a 2.1% rise in December. We have to discount the headline level of sales by about a fifth to account for dealers' own registrations. Even with this provision, though, the January report was solid. Growth rebounded in France and Germany, and a 27.1% surge in Dutch car registrations also lifted the headline. We think car registrations will rise about 1.5% quarter-onquarter in Q1, rebounding from a weak Q4. But this does not change the story of downside risks to private spending.
Today's official retail sales figures look set to show that consumers tightened their purse strings at the start of this year, following last year's spending spree. We think that retail sales volumes rose by just 1.0% month-to-month in January; that would be a poor result after December's 1.9% plunge. Surveys of retailers have been weak across the board. The reported sales balance of the CBI's Distributive Trade Survey collapsed to -8 in January, from +35 in December. The balance is notoriously volatile, but the 43-point drop is the largest since the survey began in 1983.
December's retail sales figures, released today, likely will show that the surge in spending in November was driven merely by people undertaking Christmas shopping earlier than in past years, due to Black Friday.
Retail sales volumes jumped by 2.3% month-to-month in April, exceeding the 1.0% consensus and even our 2.0% forecast. It would be a big mistake to conclude, however, that households' spending will propel the economy forward this year like it did between 2013 and 2016.
This weekend's first round of the French presidential election is too close to call. Our first chart indicates that a runoff between Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron remains the best bet. But the statistical uncertainty inherent in the predictions, and the proximity of the two remaining candidates--the centre-right Mr. Fillon and far-left Mr. Melenchon-- mean that this is now effectively a four-horse race.
Yesterday's report on October private spending in Mexico was positive, suggesting that consumption remained relatively strong at the start of Q4. Retail sales jumped 1.6% month-to-month, following a modest 0.2% drop in September. October's rebound was the biggest gain since March this year, but note that wild swings are not unusual in these data. The headline year-over-year rate rose to 9.3%, from 8.1% in September, but survey data signal to a gradual slowdown in coming months to around 5%.
Household spending has been the sole source of growth in the economy so far this year, amid worsening investment and net trade. Today's official retail sales figures, however, look set to show that consumers suffered the Brexit blues in June.
August's retail sales figures, released today, look set to show that growth in consumers' spending has remained subpar in Q3, casting doubt over whether the MPC will conclude that the economy can cope with a rate hike this year.
The French presidential election campaign remains chaotic. Republican candidate François Fillon had to defend himself again yesterday as investigations into his potential misuse of public funds deepened. Mr. Fillon and his wife have now been summoned to court to explain themselves. Markets expected Mr. Fillon to resign as the Republican front-runner. Instead, he used his unscheduled media address to defiantly declare that he is staying in the race.
The face-off is intensifying between Madrid and the pro-independent local government in Catalonia. A referendum on independence in the northeastern state has been rejected by the Spanish government and has been declared constitutionally illegal by the high court.
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.
Perhaps the single strongest U.S. economic data series in recent months has been construction spending, which has risen by more than 1%, month-to-month, in four of the past five months.
If the economy is to enter recession, falling business investment probably will have to be the main driver. Growth in consumer spending likely will slow sharply over the next year as firms become more cautious about hiring new workers and inflation begins to exceed wage growth again.
The outlook for French consumers' spending improved this month, at the margin. The headline consumer sentiment index was unchanged at 98 in November, but most forward-looking indicators rose. Consumers' spending in was flat in Q2 and Q3, following a 1.1% jump in the first quarter.
The Chancellor's decision immediately to spend all the proceeds from the OBR's upgrade to its projections for tax receipts appears to leave his plans exposed to future adverse revisions to the economic outlook.
The clear message from the fourth quarter's national accounts, released last week, is that the economic recovery rests on unsustainable foundations. The U.K. has returned to bad habits and is financing expenditure today by borrowing. As this undermines future spending, it is only a matter of time before the U.K.'s recovery loses steam.
Data yesterday showed that consumers in the euro area increased their spending in February, following recent weakness. Retail sales rose 0.7% month-to-month in February, reversing the cumulative 0.4% decline since November. The year-over-year rate was pushed higher to 1.8% from an upwardly revised 1.5% in January.
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.
Europeans, who usually save more of their income than Americans, have spent all the windfall from falling gas prices. Americans have not. It is tempting, therefore, to argue that perhaps Americans have come to see the error of their low-saving ways, and are now seeking to emulate the behavior of high-saving Europeans. Undeniably, the plunge in gas prices has given Americans the opportunity to save more without making hard choices.
We now have consumption data for two-thirds of the first quarter, making it is easy to see that a near-herculean spending effort is required to lift the quarter as a whole into anything like respectable territory. After February's 0.1% dip, real spending has to rise by at least 0.4% in March just to generate a 2.0% annualized gain for the quarter, and a 2.5% increase requires a 0.7% jump.
On the face of it, the February consumer spending data, due today, will contradict the upbeat signal from confidence surveys. The dramatic upturn in sentiment since the election is consistent with a rapid surge in real consumption, but we're expecting to see unchanged real spending in February, following a startling 0.3% decline in January.
The slowdown in quarter-on-quarter growth in households' real spending to 0.4% in Q1--just half 2016's average rate--was driven entirely by a 0.1% fall in purchases of goods. Households' spending on services, by contrast, continued to grow briskly. Indeed, the 0.8% quarter-on-quarter rise in households' real spending on services exceeded 2016's average 0.5% rate.
Argentina's overdue policy tightening, aimed at dealing with the country's severe inflation and fiscal problems, is underway. Printing of ARS at the central bank, the BCRA, to finance the budget, deficit has slowed and will be curbed further. Welfare spending, which accounts for nearly half of government spending, has been put on the chopping block.
German manufacturing data continues to offer a sobering counterbalance to strong services and consumers' spending data. New orders plunged 1.7% month-to-month in September, well below the consensus, pushing the year-over-year rate down to a 1.0% fall from a revised 1.7% increase in August. These data are very volatile, and revisions probably will lift the final number slightly next month, but the evidence points to clear risks of a further decline in the underlying trend of production.
Consumer spending has been the main locomotive of the economic recovery over the last couple of quarters, as investment and net trade have dragged on growth. Signs are emerging, however, that consumption is slowing too.
The impending retirement of New York Fed president Dudley creates yet another vacancy on the FOMC.
The 6.4-point rebound in the May ISM non-manufacturing employment index, to a very high 57.8, supports our view that summer payroll growth will be strong. On the face of it, the survey is consistent with job gains in excess of 300K, as our first chart shows, but that's very unlikely to happen.
It's probably happening a decade too late, but the EU is now moving in leaps and bounds to restructure the continent's weakest banks. Yesterday, the Monte dei Paschi saga reached an interim conclusion when the Commission agreed to allow the Italian government to take a 70% stake in the ailing lender.
This weekend will bring closure to an extraordinary presidential election campaign in France. The polls correctly predicted the first result, and assuming they are right in the second round too, Mr. Macron will comfortably beat Ms. Le Pen.
Consumers' spending in the Eurozone stalled at the start of Q4. Retail sales slid 1.1% month-to-month in October, pushing the year-over-year rate down to a four-year low of 0.4%, from an upwardly-revised 4.0% jump in September.
Today's wave of economic reports are all likely to be strong. The most important single number is the increase in real consumers' spending in July, the first month of the third quarter.
The rate of growth of third quarter consumers' spending was revised up by 0.3 percentage point to 3.3% in the national accounts released yesterday.
The Chancellor used the Autumn Statement to shift the composition of the fiscal consolidation slightly away from spending cuts and towards tax hikes. But in overall macroeconomic terms, he changed little. The fiscal stance is still set to be extremely tight in 2016 and 2017, ensuring that the economic recovery will lose more momentum.
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.
This remains a tumultuous time for EZ bond investors. The twists and turns of the French presidential election campaign continue to shove markets around. Marine Le Pen's steady rise in thepolls has pushed French yields higher this year.
This morning's second estimate of Q1 GDP likely will restate the preliminary estimate of a 0.4% quarter-on-quarter rise, confirming that the economic recovery has lost momentum since last year. Meanwhile, the new expenditure breakdown is set to show that growth remained extremely dependent on households and will bring more evidence that businesses held back from investing, ostensibly due to Brexit concerns.
Consumers' spending in Mexico was relatively resilient at the end of Q1, but we think it will slow in the second quarter. Data released this week showed that retail sales rose a strong-looking 6.1% year-over-year in March, well above market expectations, and up from 3.6% in February.
Improving fundamentals have supported private spending in Mexico during the last few quarters. This week's soft retail sales report does not change the picture of a strong underlying trend in consumption. Sales were weaker than expected, falling 1.1% month-to-month in September, but this followed a 1.5% jump in August, and average gains of 1.1% in the previous three months. Mexican retail sales are much more volatile than in most developed economies, and we have been expecting mean reversion following rapid gains during the first half of the year and most of Q3.
Today's preliminary estimate of Q4 GDP likely will show that the Brexit vote has not caused the economy to slow yet. But growth at the end of last year appears to have relied excessively on household spending, which has been increasingly financed by debt. GDP growth likely will slow decisively in Q1 as the squeeze on households' real incomes intensifies.
Mexico's private spending stumbled at the start of the second quarter.
The recent surge in equity prices is not a game- changer for the outlook for households' spending. Like last year, slowing growth in real disposable incomes and house prices will have a far greater impact on spending than rising paper wealth.
We fear that private spending in the EZ slowed in Q1, despite rocketing survey data. This fits our view that household consumption will slow in 2017 after sustained above-trend growth in the beginning of this business cycle.
We already have a pretty good idea of what happened to consumers' spending in March, following Friday's GDP release, so the single most important number in today's monthly personal income and spending report, in our view, is the hospital services component of the deflator.
Leading indicators for consumers' spending in France are sending conflicting signals. Survey data suggest that households are in a spendthrift mood. Data yesterday showed that the headline consumer sentiment index was unchanged in March at 100, the cycle high.
Consumer sentiment data yesterday from the major economies were mixed, signalling that support to Eurozone GDP growth from surging German household consumption is waning. The key "business outlook" index--which correlates best with spending--plunged to a 30-month low in October, while the advance GfK sentiment index dipped to 9.4 in November from 9.6 in October. We see little signs in retail sales data of slowing momentum, and also think consumers' spending rebounded in Q3. But our first chart shows that the fall in the GfK index implies clear downside risks in coming quarters.
The presumption in markets is that the French presidential election is the last hurdle to be overcome in the EZ economy. As long as Marine Le Pen is kept out of l'Élysée, animal spirits will be released in the economy and financial markets. We concede that a Le Pen victory would result in chaos, at least in the short run. Bond spreads would widen, equities would crash and the euro would plummet. But we also suspect that such volatility would be short-lived, similar to the convulsions after Brexit.
We have been waiting a long time to see signs that business investment spending is becoming less reliant on movements in oil prices.
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%.
A downbeat French INSEE consumer sentiment report yesterday continued the run of poor survey data this week. The headline index fell to 95 in February from 97 in January, indicating downside risk f or Q1 consumers' spending. But we remain optimistic that private consumption will rebound solidly, following a 0.4% quarter-on-quarter fall in Q4.
The preliminary estimate of a 0.5% quarter-on-quarter rise in GDP in the fourth quarter of 2015 was left unrevised, but that was the only nugge t of good news from yesterday's second GDP release. The expenditure breakdown hardly could have looked more troubling.
The pitiful 0.7% expansion of the economy in the fourth quarter is not, in our view, a sign of things to come. It is also not, by any means, a definitive verdict on what happened in the fourth quarter; the data are subject to indefinite revision. As they stand, the numbers are impossible to square with the 2.0% annualized increase in payroll employment over the quarter, so our base case has to be that these data will be revised upwards.
Apart from a slew of economic data--see here and here--two important things happened in Germany last week.
The Chancellor has prepared the public and the markets for a ratcheting-up of the already severe austerity plans in the Budget on Wednesday. George Osborne warned on Sunday that he would announce "...additional savings, equivalent to 50p in every £100 the government spends by the end of the decade", raising an extra £4B a year.
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.
Retail sales data released yesterday for Brazil confirmed that weakness in private consumption remains a key challenge for the economy. Retail sales plunged 0.9% month-on-month in May, equivalent to a 4.5% fall year-over-year, the lowest rate since late 2003. On a quarterly basis, sales are headed for a 2% contraction in Q2, pointing to a -0.5% GDP contribution from consumer spending.
Investors are increasingly anxious that an intentional sharp devaluation of the renminbi, aiming to combat China's slowdown, might lead to prolonged deflation in the West, particularly in an economy as open as the U.K.
Today's Eurozone data will provide further details on what happened in Q4. Advance data suggest that industrial production rose a modest 0.1% month- to-month, lifting the year-over-year rate to 4.3% in December, from 3.9% in November.
The latest evidence of firming economic momentum comes from France, where industrial production rose 0.4% month-to-month in January, equivalent to a 0.6% increase year-over-year. Combined with strong consumer spending data in January, this points to a solid first quarter for the French economy.
Evidence of a modest upturn in Brazilian consumers' spending continues to mount. Retail sales rose 1.0% month-to-month in April, pushing the year-over-rate up to +1.9%, from an upwardly-revised -3.2% in March.
Last fall and winter, when the weather was warmer than usual--thanks largely to El Nino--construction employment rocketed. Between October and March, job gains averaged 36K, compared to an average of 20K per month over the previous year. When these strong numbers began to emerge, we expected to see a parallel acceleration in construction spending.
Today's retail sales figures for August likely will rebut the widespread view that spendthrift consumers will prevent a sharp economic slowdown. We look for a 1% month-to-month decline in retail sales volumes in August, well below the -0.4% consensus forecast.
Consumers' spending in Brazil weakened at the end of Q4, but we think households will support GDP growth in the first quarter.
Yesterday's FOMC statement was a bit more upbeat on growth than we expected, with Janet Yellen's final missive describing everything -- economic growth, employment, household spending, and business investment -- as "solid".
Today's huge wall of data will add significantly to our understanding of third quarter economic growth, with new information on consumers' spending, industrial activity, inflation and business sentiment. In light of the unexpected drop in the ISM surveys in August, we are very keen to see the Empire State and Philly Fed surveys for September.
July's retail sales report signalled a good start to the third quarter but also implied that second quarter spending was stronger than previously thought. The upward revisions--totalling 0.5% for total sales and 0.4% for non-auto sales--were the biggest for some time, but we were not unduly surprised.
The MPC was relatively bullish on the outlook for households' spending when it signalled its view, in February's Inflation Report, that the case for raising interest rates before the end of this year had strengthened.
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.
The consumer in Brazil was off to a strong start to the first quarter, and we expect household spending will continue to boost GDP growth in the near term.
This week brings a wave of data on all aspects of the economy, bar housing. By the end o f the week, we'll have a better idea of the shape of consumers' spending, the industrial sector and the inflation picture, and estimates of third quarter GDP growth will start to mean something.
Data on industrial production and trade released last week have fanned hopes that the U.K.'s growth model is moving away from its excessive reliance on household spending, and towards production and exports. But a close look at the underlying drivers of the strong headline figures suggests that it is too soon to hope that the economy is undergoing a major rebalancing.
The Mexican government last week unveiled its 2017 fiscal budget proposal. The plan makes clear that the shocks which have battered the economy and public finances since 2015 will linger in to next year. Mexico's government has been eager to cut spending in recent years.
Consumers' spending in Brazil slowed at the start of Q4, but we don't see this as the start of a downtrend.
President Moon was elected earlier this year on a promise to rebalance the economy toward domestic demand and reduce export dependency. It's not the first time politicians have received such a mandate.
We are pretty confident that the reported 3.4% drop in durable goods orders in December, which so spooked the markets yesterday, didn't actually happen.
The White House Budget for fiscal 2018, released last week, has no chance of becoming law in anything like its current form, so we don't propose to spend much time dissecting it. But we do need to set out our view on what might actually happen to fiscal policy over the next few months, because it potentially could make a material difference to the pace, and ultimate extent, of Fed tightening.
It seems pretty clear from press reports that the White House budget, which reportedly will be released March 14, will propose substantial increases in defense spending, deep cuts to discretionary non- defense spending, and no substantive changes to entitlement programs. None of this will come as a surprise.
Sunday's referendum on independence in Catalonia is a wild-card. The central government has taken drastic steps to ensure that a vote doesn't happen.
We expected a modest correction in the number of job openings in July, following the surge over the previous few months, but instead yesterday's JOLTS report revealed that openings jumped by a mind-boggling 8.1% to a new record high. In the three months to July, the number of openings soared at a 35% annualized rate. As a result, the Beveridge Curve, which compares the number of openings to the unemployment rate, is now further than ever from normalizing after shifting out decisively in 2010.
Chief US economist Ian Shepherdson on US Consumer Spending
Ian Shepherdson, Chief Economist at Pantheon MacroEconomics, on U.S. Consumer spending
Claus Vistesen says that the Catalan independence movement has no international support for its cause.
Improving consumer fundamentals continue to underpin growth in private spending in Mexico, according to retail sales and inflation reports published this week. March retail sales were much stronger than expected, jumping 3.0% month-to-month, after averaging gains of 0.8% in the preceding three months. And sales for the three months through February were revised up marginally.
All the evidence indicates that growth in Eurozone consumers' spending is slowing. We think data today will show that the advance GfK consumer sentiment index in Germany was unchanged at 9.5 in April, but the headline index does not correlate well with spending. The "business expectations" index is better, and while it likely will increase slightly, our first chart shows that it continues to signal a slowdown in consumers' spending growth.
The Monetary Policy Committee chose to keep its options open in the minutes of this week's meeting, rather than signal as clearly as it did last year that interest rates will rise very soon.
December's retail sales numbers are the most important of the year for retailers, but they don't necessarily tell us anything about the future prospects for consumers' spending or the broad economy. The December 2016 numbers, however, might be different, because they capture consumers' behavior in the first full month after the election.
The robust July retail sales numbers, coupled with the substantial upward revisions to prior data, should finally put to bed the idea that consumers have chosen spontaneously to raise their saving rate, accelerating the pace of deleveraging seven years after the financial crash. People just don't behave like that unless interest rates are soaring and the economy is rolling over, and that's not happening.
The national accounts for the third quarter, released on Wednesday, are likely to show that households are saving a very small proportion of their incomes. Low unemployment, subdued inflation and the healthier condition of households' balance sheets suggests that very low saving is more sustainable than in the past. Nonetheless, the low rate underlines that household spending can't grow at a faster rate than incomes for a sustained period again.
Today's labour market figures likely will cast doubt over the sustainability of strong growth in household spending. Growth in the three-month average level of employment likely weakened in August, from July's impressive 1.9% year-over-year rate.
So far, the surge in retail spending promised by the plunge in gasoline prices has not materialized. The latest Redbook chain store sales numbers dipped below the gently rising trend last week, perhaps because of severe weather, but the point is that the holiday season burst of spending has not been maintained.
The MPC's asserted its independence in the minutes of December's meeting, firmly stating that there is "no mechanical link between UK policy and those of other central banks". Markets have interpreted this as supporting their view that the MPC won't be rushed into raising interest rates by the Fed's actions. Investors now expect a nine-month gap between the Fed hike we anticipate next week, and the first move in the U.K.
Yesterday's relatively good news--we discuss the implications of the August trade data below--will be followed by rather more mixed reports today. We hope to see a partial rebound, at least, in the September Chicago PMI, but we fully expect soft August consumer spending data.
A casual glance at our char t below, which shows the number of job openings from the JOLTS report, seems to fit our story that the slowdown in payrolls in April and May--perhaps triggered by the drop in stocks in January and February--will prove temporary. Job openings dipped, but have recovered and now stand very close to their cycle high.
The U.S. housing market stumbled into 2015 as a leading indicator of home sales dipped in December
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. House Prices
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Labour Market data for May
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. economy growth
Ian Shepherdson comments on strong construction data
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on the U.K. PMI data, April
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on European Car Sales
Senior International Economist Andres Abadia on Chile GDP.
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen with the latest on the French Election
Chief US Economist Ian Shepherdson on US Personal Income, February
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on the U.K. CBI survey, November
The Federal Reserve said Wednesday it would keep short-term interest rates near zero until at least the middle of the year. The central bank's policy committee also signaled caution about low inflation and nodded to overseas uncertainty by including new language that it would monitor international developments. Here's how economists reacted
Public borrowing was below consensus expectations in August, fuelling speculation that the Chancellor might pare back the remaining fiscal tightening in the Autumn Budget on November 22.
The slew of EZ economic data on Friday supports our view that the economy ended 2016. The Commission's economic sentiment index jumped to 107.8 in December from a revised 106.6 in November. The headline strength was due to a big increase in "business climate indicator" and higher consumer sentiment. In individual countries, solid numbers for German construction and French services sentiment were the stand-out details.
Mexican president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, has set out the first points of his austerity plan, two weeks after his overwhelming victory at the polls.
Today's official figures likely will show that retail sales weakened a touch in December. Indeed, we think that the consensus forecast for a 0.1% month-to-month decline in sales volumes is too timid; we look for a 0.5% drop. Retail sales surged by 1.8% month-to-month in October and then rose by 0.2% in November, so a correction is overdue. Clothing sales, in particular, likely fell sharply in December.
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.
We are a bit more optimistic than the consensus on the question of second quarter productivity growth, but the data are so unreliable and erratic that the difference between our 1.2% forecast and the 0.7% consensus estimate doesn't mean much.
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.
Eurozone consumer confidence remained at its low for the year at the start of Q3.
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.
The twists and turns of the French presidential election campaign continue. François Fillon was tipped as favourite after he won the Republican primaries. But Mr. Fillon now is struggling to keep his campaign on track after allegations that he gave high paying "pro-forma" jobs to his wife as an assistant last year. The socialist candidate, Benoit Hamon, has been hampered by the unpopularity of his party's incumbent, François Hollande, and has lost ground to the far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Now that the holidays are just a distant memory, the distortions they cause in an array of economic data are fading. The problems are particularly acute in the weekly data -- mortgage applications, chainstore sales and jobless claims -- because Christmas Day falls on a different day of the week each year.
The Chancellor probably can't believe his luck. Public borrowing has continued to fall this year at a much faster rate than anticipated by the OBR, despite the sluggish economy.
This week's GDP figures showed that firms invested only sparingly in 2016, but their financial fortunes have been bolstered by a recovery in profits. The gross operating surplus of all firms rose by 4.5% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, the biggest increase for 11 quarters. This pushed the share of GDP absorbed by profits up to 21.3%, just above its 60-year average of 21.2%.
It's hard to have much conviction in any forecast for September retail sales, as the relationship between the official data and the surveys has weakened considerably.
Recent economic indicators in Brazil have undershot consensus in recent weeks, but the economy nonetheless continues to recover.
June's 0.5% month-to-month fall in retail sales volumes does little to change the picture of recent strength.
Brazil's recovery is consolidating, with recent data flow confirming that the economy had an encouraging start to the year.
Politics will be the key factor in LatAm over the coming quarters, as presidential and legislative elections take place throughout the region.
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.
Evidence that households are not benefiting much from the Monetary Policy Committee's easing measures mounted yesterday, after the release of August data on advertised borrowing rates. Our first chart shows the drop in swap rates and average quoted mortgage rates since the end of last year.
Mexico's CPI rose just 0.1% in the first half of March, due to higher core prices. The increase was broadbased within this component, with goods prices increasing by 0.2% and core services 0.4%. Core services prices were driven by temporary factors, including vacation packages and higher airfare tickets. Non-core prices, meanwhile, fell 0.5%, due mainly to falling fresh food prices.
Eurozone inflation pressures snapped back in April. Friday's advance report showed that headline inflation rose to 1.9% year-over-year, from 1.5% in March, lifted by a jump in the cor e rate to 1.2% from 0.7% the month before.
January's money and credit data provided another warning sign that the economy has started 2017 on a weak footing. For a start, the three-month annualised growth rate of M4, excluding intermediate other financial corporations--the Bank's preferred measure of the broad money supply-- declined to 1.8% in January, from 3.1% in December.
The process of refinancing existing mortgages at ever-lower interest rates has been a boon for the economy in recent years.
The performance of Italy's economy in the first half of 2017 proves that the strengthening euro area recovery is a tide lifting all the r egion's boats.
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.
March auto sales were much weaker than expected, falling by 5.5% month-to-month to a 25-month low, 16.5M. The average for the previous six months was 17.8M. The sudden drop in March likely was driven in large part by the huge snowstorm which tracked across the Northeast in the middle week of the month, so we think a decent rebound in April is a good bet.
The March money and credit figures provide more evidence that the economy's weak start to the year won't be just a blip.
Argentina's government continues to show signs of reining in fiscal policy, with the primary budget balance improving steadily over the last year.
The 1.2% month-to-month fall in retail sales volumes in March undoubtedly was due mostly to the bad weather.
Brazil's inflation data continue to disappoint, but they are showing some signs of improvement, at the margin. The mid-month CPI, the IPCA-15 index, jumped to 9.3% year-over-year in July, up from 8.8% in June, soaring well above the upper bound of the inflation target and reaching the highest level since December 2003, as shown in our first chart.
Friday's industrial production report in Germany capped a miserable week for economic data in the Eurozone's largest economy.
The industrial sector in the EZ slowed further at the end of Q3.
Friday's inflation data in the Eurozone added a dovish twist to the story ahead of the key ECB meeting later this month.
The BoJ kept policy unchanged yesterday, with the policy balance rate remaining at -0.1% and the 10-year yield target remaining around zero.
Taken at face value, the GDP data continue to suggest that the Brexit vote has had no adverse consequences for the economy. The official estimate of quarter-on-quarter GDP growth in Q4 was revised up yesterday to 0.7%, from 0.6%. The revision had been flagged earlier this month by stronger industrial production and construction output figures.
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.
Yesterday's economic reports showed that the German economy firmed at the end of Q1, but this doesn't change the story for a poor quarter overall.
The PBoC hiked its 7-day reverse repo rate by 5bp yesterday, stating that the move was a response to the latest Fed hike.
Yesterday's barrage of economic data in the Eurozone added to the evidence that economic momentum is slowing.
Yesterday's detailed Mexican GDP report confirmed that growth was resilient in Q1, despite external and domestic headwinds. GDP rose 0.7% quarter-on-quarter in Q1, in line with our expectation, but marginally above the first estimate, 0.6%.
China's September activity data, released at the end of last week, back up our claim that GDP growth weakened in Q3, on a quarter-on-quarter basis.
The Brazilian BRL has remained relatively stable year-to-date, following a strong rebound in January. But downward pressures have re-emerged over the last two months, as shown in our first chart.
The gap between U.K. and U.S. government bond yields has continued to grow this year and is approaching a record.
Oil prices have risen by about $20 per barrel since last fall.
Advance inflation data in the Eurozone will likely surprise to the upside today. The consensus forecast expects inflation to rise slightly to -0.5% year-over-year in February from -0.6% in January, but we expect a much bigger jump, to -0.2% year-over-year.
The Chancellor lived up to his reputation for fiscal conservatism yesterday and is pressing ahead with a tough fiscal tightening. He hopes that this will create scope to loosen policy if the economy struggles after the U.K. leaves the EU in 2019, but we remain concerned his "fiscal headroom" will be much smaller than he currently anticipates.
We expect the official estimate of quarter-on-quarter GDP growth in Q4 to be revised up to 0.7% today, from last month's preliminary estimate of 0.6%. The consensus forecast is for no revision, so the data likely will boost interest rate expectations and sterling, if we're right.
Yesterday's barrage of French business sentiment data suggest that confidence in the industrial sector was a little stronger than expected in Q2.
The BoJ left policy unchanged yesterday, but we noted some significant additions and modifications in the statement and the press conference.
We predict no major policy changes at the ECB today. We think the central bank will leave its main refinancing and deposit rates unchanged at 0.00% and -0.4%, respectively. We also expect the ECB will leave the pace of QE unchanged at €60 per month until December 2017, at least.
Back on May 14, we argued--see here--that the stars were aligned to generate very strong second quarter GDP growth, perhaps even reaching 5%.
Consumer sentiment in the euro area has slipped this year, though the headline indices remain robust overall.
The risk of higher US rates put LatAm currencies under pressure during the first half of the week, before the US FOMC meeting on Wednesday. But they recovered some ground yesterday, following the Fed's decision to leave rates on hold.
Industry estimates for August light vehicle sales suggest that the downshift in sales which began at the turn of the year is over, at least for now.
We see no compelling reason to expect a significant revision to the third quarter GDP numbers today, so our base case is that the second estimate, 3.3%, will still stand.
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.
Today's market attention will be focused on the advance August PMI data in the major EZ economies. We think the composite PMI in the euro area was unchanged at 53.2 in August, consistent with stable GDP growth of 0.3%-to-0.4% quarter-on-quarter in Q3. The signal of "stability" in the Eurozone business cycle has been consistently relayed by the PMI since the beginning of the year.
Yesterday's advance EZ PMI data were virtually unchanged from previous months, yet again. The composite PMI rose trivially to 53.3 in August from 53.2 in July; this means that the index has been almost stable since February. The headline was lifted by a small increase in services, which offset a slight decline in manufacturing.
Chile's Q2 GDP report, released on Friday, confirmed that the economy gathered momentum in recent months, following an alarmingly weak start to the year.
U.K. activity data have consistently surprised to the downside over the last month.
The euro area's record-high external surplus has prompted commentators to suggest that the zone has room to loosen fiscal policy to support growth, or at least relax the deficit reduction rules.
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.
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".
Yesterday's ZEW investor sentiment in Germany shows showed no signs that uncertainty over the U.K. referendum is taking its toll on EZ investors. The expectations index surged to 19.2 in June, from 6.4 in May, the biggest month-to-month jump since January last year, when investors were eagerly expecting the ECB's QE announcement.
LatAm investors' concerns about U.S. monetary policy expectations and the broad direction of the USD should on the back burner until the Fed hikes again, likely in September. This will leave room for country-specific drivers to take centre stage. That should support Mexico's MXN, which already has risen 14% year-to-date against the USD, erasing its losses after the US election last November.
One of the key characteristics of this euro area business cycle has been near-zero inflation due to structurally weak domestic demand and depressed prices for globally traded goods and commodities. This has supported real incomes, despite sluggish nominal wage growth.
On the face of it, June's retail sales figures suggest that households have splurged in Q2, re-energising GDP growth after its slowdown in Q1. Sales volumes rose by 0.6% month-to-month in June, completing a 1.5% quarter-on-quarter jump in Q2.
We expect today's second estimate of Q2 GDP to confirm that the U.K. has been the slowest growing G7 economy this year.
Argentina's latest hard data suggest that activity is softening, but we don't see the start of a renewed downtrend.
Today's housing market data likely will look soft, but will probably not be representative of the underlying story, which remains quite positive.
Today's data likely will show that EZ households' sentiment remained close to a record high at the start of the year.
No subject in the EZ economy is a source of more dispute than Germany's ballooning current account surplus. The Economist recently identified he German surplus as a problem for the world economy.
The stand-out development in yesterday's labour market report was the drop in the he adline, three-month average, unemployment rate to just 4.0% in June--its lowest rate since February 1975--from 4.2% in May.
Last week, Banxico, the BCCh and the BCRP all left their reference rates on hold. Their currencies have remained relatively stable in recent months and inflation pressures are under control. In Mexico, Banxico has adopted a more discretionary approach, following two 50bp hikes this year.
Eurozone GDP data last Friday suggest the cyclical recovery continued at the end of last year. Real GDP in euro area rose 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, the same as in Q3, lifted by growth in all the major economies. This was in line with the consensus forecast, but noticeably higher than implied by monthly industrial production and retail sales data.
The January core CPI numbers are consistent with our view that the U.S. faces bigger upside inflation risks than markets and the Fed believe.
September's labour market report suggests that wage growth won't continue to rise for much longer.
Soft September data in Germany and Italy suggest that today's industrial production report in the Eurozone will be poor. Our first chart shows that data from the major EZ economies point to a 0.8% month-to- month fall in September.
Brazil's economic situation has improved this year, and we still expect the recovery to continue over the second half, despite recent political volatility and soft Q2 data.
In an interview with The Times yesterday, MPC member Ian McCafferty--who voted to raise interest rates in June--suggested he also might favour starting to run down the Bank's £435B s tock of gilt purchases soon.
Peru's central bank, the BCRP, kept borrowing costs at 3.25% last week, surprising the consensus forecast for a 25bp increase. This was an unexpected move because inflation risks have not abated much since the previous meeting, when policymakers lifted rates for the third straight month.
Markets are becoming more sensitive to rumours about changes in ECB policy. The euro and yields jumped on Friday after a Bloomberg report that the central bank has discussed raising rates before QE ends.
German inflation eased in May, but the underlying upward pressure on the core is increasing. Yesterday's data showed that inflation fell to 1.5% year-over-year in May, from 2.0% in April, as the boost from the late Easter reversed. Inflation in leisure and entertainment services was driven down to +0.8%, from +3.3% in April, as a result of sharply lower inflation in package holidays and airfares.
The trend in retail sales no longer looks quite so flat, following yesterday's May report. The level of sales volumes in April was revised up by 0.3%.
The industrial production trajectory in Mexico looked strong going into Q3, but Friday's report for August threatens to change that picture.
A 45bp rise in long-term interest rates--the increase between mid-August and last week's peak--ought to depress stock prices, other things equal.
Today's wave of data will be mixed, but most of the headlines are likely to be on the soft side, so the reports are very unlikely to trigger a wave of last minute defections to the hawkish side of the FOMC. As always, though, the headlines don't necessarily capture the underlying story, and that's certainly been the case with the retail sales data this year. Plunging prices for gas and imported goods, especially audio-video items, have driven down the rate of growth of nominal retail sales, but real sales have performed much better.
Brazil's July economic activity index, released yesterday, showed that the economy started the second half of the year strongly. The IBC-Br index, a monthly proxy for GDP, rose 0.4% month-to-month, pushing the year-over-year rate up to 1.4%, from -0.4% in June.
The combination of unexpectedly strong auto sales and rising gas prices should generate strong-looking headline retail sales numbers for October. We have no idea what to expect for November, with two-thirds of the month coming after the election, but the final pre- election sales report will look good.
Consumption accounts for almost 70% of GDP, and retail sales account for about 45% of consumption.
Don't worry about the weakness of the recent retail sales numbers. The three straight 0.1% month-to- month declines tell us nothing about the underlying state of the consumer.
The German economy fired on all cylinders at the beginning of the year. Advance data on Friday showed that real GDP rose 0.6% quarter-on-quarter, accelerating from a 0.4% increase in Q4.
Consumption has been a serious weak spot in Brazil over the past year. After reaching record growth rates in 2010, it has gradually slowed to its lowest pace in more than ten years.
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%.
All eyes in the Eurozone will be on the second estimate of Q4 GDP today, and the report likely will confirm that growth accelerated in Q4. We think real GDP rose 0.5% quarter-on-quarter, up from a 0.3% increase in Q3, in line with the first estimate. If this forecast is correct, the year-over-year rate will be unchanged at 1.8%. Risks to the headline, however, are tilted to the downside.
Over the last few months we have started to see hard evidence of Brazil's deceleration, and, as we have argued in previous Monitors, the slowdown is now set to become more visible. Over the coming weeks, markets will focus on whether Brazil is already in recession, its likely severity, and how the country will get out of this mess.
French manufacturing cooled at the end of 2016. Industrial production slipped 0.9% month-to-month in December, partially reversing an upwardly revised 2.4% jump in November. The main hits came from declines in oil refining and manufacturing of cars and other transport equipment.
The euro area economy continues to defy rising political uncertainty. Data yesterday showed that industrial production, ex-construction, in the Eurozone jumped 1.5% month-to-month in November, pushing the year-over-year rate up to 3.2% from a revised 0.8% in October. Output rose in all the major economies, but the headline was flattered by a 16.3% month-to-month leap in Ireland. This was due to a production jump in Ireland's "modern sector" which includes the country's large multinational technology sector.
Under normal circumstances, we can predict movements in the headline NFIB index from shifts in the key labor market components, which are released a day ahead of the official employment report, and, hence, about 10 days before the full NFIB survey appears.
Today's industrial production data will confirm that EZ manufacturing suffered a slow start to Q4. Advance country data signal a 0.2% month-to-month fall in October, slightly worse than the consensus, 0.0%.
Mexican industrial activity started the fourth quarter badly. Industrial production fell 0.1% month- to-month in October, pushing the year-over-year rate slightly up to -1.1% from -1.2% in September and -0.7% in Q3.
Oil prices remain sticky, poised to hover close to a four-year high for the rest of the year.
The euro's spectacular rise against the pound has been the key story in European FX markets recently. But the trade-weighted euro, however, is up "only" 6% year-to-date, as a result of the relatively stable EURUSD.
The key piece of evidence supporting our view that housing market activity has peaked for this cycle is the softening trend--until recently--in applications for new mortgages to finance house purchase.
It's tempting to conclude that the pick-up in year over-year growth in average weekly wages, excluding bonuses, to a three-year high of 3.1% in July, from 2.8% in June, signals that employees' bargaining power has strengthened and that a sustained wage recovery now is under way.
Activity in the Mexican industrial sector cooled marginally at the start of the second quarter, but the drop was not as dramatic as the headlines suggested. Output fell 4.4% year-over-year in April, after a 3.4% increase in March.
Monthly manufacturing and retail sales data point to upside risk to the consensus expectation of 0.4% quarter-on-quarter in Q1 Eurozone real GDP growth. Advance country data indicate that industrial production was unchanged month-to-month in March, equivalent to a 0.9% increase quarter-on-quarter.
Japanese domestic demand probably strengthened in Q2, with both private consumption and fixed investment accelerating. Trade and inventories are the key swing components for GDP growth.
Peru's central bank left its policy interest rate unchanged at 3.75% last week, but signalled that further easing is on the way. According to the press release accompanying the decision, policymakers noted that inflation expectations are within their target range and still falling.
Brazil's consumer recession seems never-ending. Retail sales fell 0.8% month-to-month in October, pushing the headline year-over-year rate down to -8.2% in October, from -5.7% in September. Recent financial market volatility, credit restrictions and the ongoing deterioration of the labour market continue to hurt consumers.
The consensus for a mere 0.3% month-to-month rise in retail sales volumes in November looks too timid; we anticipate a 0.7% gain.
China's M2 growth slowed to 8.2% year-over-year in August, from 8.5% in July
The worst phase of the squeeze on real wages is nearly over; CPI inflation looks set to peak at slightly above 3% in October, before falling back steadily to about 2% by the end of 2018.
Macroeconomic data in the euro area were mixed in our absence.
The sharp currency sell-off in Q2 and Q3, the financial crisis and tighter monetary and fiscal policies have pushed the Argentinian economy under stress since Q2.
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.
The Chinese activity data published yesterday were much weaker than expected; growth rates fell resoundingly. Did analysts really get it wrong, or is this just another example of erratic Chinese data?
Normal service was resumed in the euro area with Friday's GDP reports pointing to solid growth in Germany amid weakness in Italy and France. Real GDP in the Eurozone grew 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in the final three months of last year, up from 0.2% in Q3.
Fourth quarter construction activity in the Eurozone was much better than in Q3, despite a dip in December. Output fell 0.6% month-to-month in the final month of the year, pushing the year-over-year rate down to -0.4% from a revised 0.3% in November.
Hot on the heels of yesterday's news that the NAHB index of homebuilders' sentiment and activity dropped by two points this month -- albeit from December's 18-year high -- we expect to learn today that housing starts fell last month.
Brazil's March industrial production report, released on Thursday last week, was weaker than we and the markets were expecting, while the recent deterioration in sentiment surveys highlights the downside risks to the rather fragile economic recovery.
Momentum in the EZ auto sector rebounded at the end of the second quarter.
Peru's central bank, BCRP, left rates unchanged last week, at 3.25%, a four-year low. Above-target inflation and currency volatility prevented the Board from cutting rates.
The incidence of the phrase "since the early nineties" has increased sharply in our Japan reports this year.
October's retail sales figures confirm that consumers have adopted a more cautious mindset since the summer, when retail sales increased at a faster rate than incomes.
The consensus for a modest 0.5% month-to- month rise in retail sales volumes in October looks too timid; we expect today's data to show a 1% increase.
Growth in new EZ car sales remained brisk last month, growth slowed in Q3. New registrations rose 9.4% year-over-year in September, marginally lower than the 9.6% increase in August. Growth in France fell most, sliding to 2.5% from 6.7% in August, but sales in Germany picked up to 9.4%, from 8.3%.
Growth in Eurozone car sales slowed slightly at the end of the first quarter. New car registrations in the euro area rose 5.8% year-over-year in March, down from a 14.4% increase in February. But the 12-month average level of new registrations jumped to new cyclical highs of 440,000 and 252,000 in the core and periphery respectively.
Data released over the weekend confirm that the Peruvian economy enjoyed a strong second quarter. The economic activity index rose 6.4% year-over-year in May, well above market expectations, and up from 3.2% in Q1.
Growth in new EZ car registrations slowed last month, but the data continue to tell a story of strong consumer demand for new cars. New registrations in the euro area rose 6.9% y/y in June, down from a 16.9% jump in May, mainly due to slowing growth in France. New registrations in the euro area's second largest economy rose a mere 0.8% year-over-year, after a 22% surge in May.
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.
Our view that the economy is slowing sharply appears, superficially, to be challenged by the surge in the money supply. Year-over-year growth in the value of banknotes and coins in circulation has shot up this year, to 8.3% in August, from 5.5% in December 2015.
The FOMC did nothing yesterday and said nothing significantly different from its June statement, as was universally expected.
Brazil's December industrial production and labour reports, released this week, confirmed that the recovery remained solidly on track at the end of last year.
Sebastián Piñera returns to the Presidential Palacio de la Moneda, succeeding Michelle Bachelet as president of Chile, as in 2010.
Banxico delivered its fifth 50bp rise of 2016 last Thursday, taking Mexico's main interest rate to 5.75%, its highest level since early 2009. Markets expected a 25bp increase, not least because the MXN has been relatively stable since Banxico's previous meeting in November.
Media reports allege that the Chancellor's Budget pared back the fiscal squeeze planned for the next couple of years. The Director of the Office for Budget Responsibility, Robert Chote, even compared the Chancellor to Saint Augustine, who supposedly said "make me pure, but not yet."
The Eurozone's external surplus weakened at the start of Q3.
Colombia's economy remained resilient in July, thanks to strong domestic demand and relatively good external conditions for the country's top exports.
Colombian activity data released this week were relatively strong, but mostly driven by the primary sectors; consumption remains sluggish compared to previous standards.
Centrist politicians and markets breathed a sigh of relief yesterday as the results of the Dutch parliamentary elections rolled in. The incumbent conservatives, led by PM Mark Rutte, lost ground but emerged as parliament's biggest party with 33 seats out of the total 150.
The average month-to-month increase in the core CPI in the past three months is a solid 0.20, much firmer than the 0.05% average over the previous five months, stretching back to the first of the run of downside surprises, in March.
The consensus view that today's retail sales data will show volumes increased by 0.2% month-to-month in October is too sanguine.
The sovereign debt crisis in the euro area was a macroeconomic horror story
Without tying its hands, the MPC--which voted unanimously to keep interest rates at 0.25% and to continue with the £60B of gilt purchases and £10B of corporate bond purchases authorised last month--gave a strong indication yesterday that it still expects to cut Bank Rate in November.
Colombia's Q1 GDP report confirms that the economy is improving. Leading indicators and survey data suggest that the recovery will continue over the second half of the year.
Economic data released yesterday underscored that Brazil emerged from recession in the first quarter, but further rate cuts are needed. Indeed, the monthly economic activity index--the IBC-Br--fell 0.4% monthto- month in March, though this followed a strong 1.4% gain in February.
The euro area's external surplus remained resilient toward the end of 2017, in the face of a stronger currency. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus rose to €22.5B in November, from €19.0B in October, lifted primarily by a jump in German exports.
Last week's packed political agenda in Europe confirmed that political relations between the U.S. and the major Eurozone economies remain difficult.
Colombia's economy defied rising political uncertainty at the start of the year. Retail sales growth jumped to plus 6.2% year-over-year in January, up from -3.8% in December and -1.8% in Q4.
In order to support current market pricing, the MPC will have to be more specific about the timing of the next rate hike in the minutes of next Thursday's meeting.
The Eurosystem's position on Greece, echoed by Mr. Draghi earlier this week, is that progress on a deal is up to the Syriza-led government. But recent comments by German officials have added to the speculation that a Grexit is getting closer.
This week's labour market, inflation and retail sales data--the last before the MPC meets on May 10--will have a major bearing on the Committee's decision.
Chinese real GDP growth reportedly edged down to 6.7% year-over-year in Q2, from 6.8% in Q1.
Yesterday's ECB press conference confirmed our view that Mr. Draghi is the periphery's friend, not enemy. Crucially, the central bank agreed to increase emergency liquidity assistance--ELA--to Greek banks by €900M. This is consistent tent with the agreement by the Eurogroup to give Greece €7B bridge financing, and shows the ECB is ready to act on the back of only a temporary truce between Greece and the EU. The increase in ELA is modest, and we doubt a painful restructuring of the banking system can be avoided. But with Greek bond yields falling, the available pool of collateral will go up, allowing the central bank to provide further relief in coming weeks.
Colombia is one of the fastest growing economies in LatAm but over the last few quarters the country has been adjusting to the collapse in oil prices, the depreciating currency and rising inflation. But the slowdown, especially on the domestic side of the economy, has been less dramatic than expected, so far. Our main scenario is that the adjustment process to challenging external conditions will continue over the coming quarters.
The Chancellor chose in his Budget to increase the total size of the forthcoming fiscal consolidation, to ensure that the Office for Budget Responsibility continues to forecast that a budget surplus will be obtained in 2019/20.
Consumers' demand for cars slowed in the Eurozone at the end of the second quarter. New car registrations in the euro area rose 3.0% year-over-year in June, slowing dramatically from a 10.3% rise in May.
Monday's economic activity data from Peru signalled that the gradual recovery continues, despite November's undershoot, which was chiefly driven by temporary factors.
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.
Your correspondent is headed to the beach for the next couple of weeks, with publication resuming on Tuesday, September 4.
Net exports in the euro area likely rebounded in Q4. The headline EZ trade surplus rose to €22.7B in November from €19.7B in October. Exports jumped 3.3% month-to-month, primarily as a result of strong data in Germany and France, offsetting a 1.8% rise in imports. Over Q4 as a whole, we are confident that net exports gave a slight boost to eurozone GDP growth, adding 0.1 percentage points to quarter-on-quarter growth.
The economy slowed less than we expected in 2017.
Yesterday's detailed Q3 GDP data in the Eurozone confirmed that the economy has gone from strength to strength this year.
The national accounts, released today, likely will restate that quarter-on-quarter GDP growth held steady at 0.4% in Q4.
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.
Last week's second estimate of GDP reaffirmed that quarter-on-quarter growth declined to 0.1% in Q1--the lowest rate since Q4 2012--from 0.4% in Q4.
Households' decision to reduce their saving rate sharply was the main reason why economic growth exceeded forecasters' expectations in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.
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 Prime Minister will invoke Article 50 today, marking the end of the beginning of the U.K.'s departure from the EU. The move likely will not move markets, as it has been all but certain since MPs backed the Government's European Union Bill on February 1.
Japan's CPI inflation jumped to 1.0% in December from 0.6% in November, driven by food prices.
Volatility in commodities and emerging markets has intensified since the beginning of July, with the stock market drama in China taking centre stage. The bubble in Chinese equities inflated without much ado elsewhere, and can probably deflate in isolation too. But the accelerating economic slowdown in EM is becoming an issue for policy makers in the Eurozone.
Our base-case forecast for the May core PCE deflator, due today, is a 0.17% increase, lifting the year-over-year rate by a tenth to 1.9%.
French consumer sentiment dipped slightly in June, but we see no major hit from ongoing labour market disputes. The headline index slipped to 97 in June, from 98 in May; this is a decent reading given the fourpoint jump last month. The headline was constrained by a big fall in consumers' "major purchasing intentions," but this partly was mean-reversion following a surge last month.
Headline money supply growth in the Eurozone has averaged 5% year-over-year since the beginning of 2015; yesterday's October data did not change that story.
Yesterday's October labour market data in Mexico showed that the adjusted unemployment rate rose a bit to 3.4%, from 3.3% in September.
We'd be very surprised to see a material weakening in today's March ISM manufacturing survey. The regional reports released in recent weeks point to another reading in the high 50s, with a further advance from February's 57.7 a real possibility.
A bullish EZ money supply report was the key highlight while we were away over the holidays. M3 growth in the euro area accelerated to 4.8% year-over-year in November from 4.4% in October.
We expect China's quarterly real GDP growth in the second quarter to edge down from Q1, but only because Q1 growth was unsustainable. The official data shows real GDP growth at 1.3% quarter-onquarter in Q1.
Friday's euro area inflation reported capped a difficult week for EZ bondholders, although most of the damage was done beforehand by the advance German data.
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.
Today's Case-Shiller report on existing home prices will likely show that August prices were little changed, month-to-month, for the fourth straight month. The slowdown in the pace of price gains since the first quarter, when price gains averaged 1.0% per month, has been startling. In all probability, though, the apparent stalling is a reflection of the quality of the data rather than the underlying reality in the housing market.
The news-flow in the Eurozone was almost unequivocally bad over the summer.
Later today, the Chancellor likely will take the first step towards abandoning plans for further fiscal tightening. In
Friday's consumer sentiment data in the two main Eurozone economies were mixed.
We expect to learn today that the economy barely grew at all in the fourth quarter. At least, that's what we think the first estimate of growth, due today, will show. This number will then be revised twice over the next couple of months, then again when revisions for the past three years are released in July. Thereafter, the numbers are subject to further annual revisions indefinitely.
Peru's inflation continues to surprise to the downside, paving the way for an additional rate cut next week.
The April international trade numbers were startlingly, and surprisingly, horrible. The deficit in trade in goods leaped by $6.2B -- the biggest one-month jump in two years -- to $67.1B, though the headline damage was limited by a sharp narrowing in the oil deficit, thanks to lower prices, and a rebound in the aircraft surplus.
Headline Eurozone PMI data have declined steadily since the beginning of the year, but the June numbers stopped the rot.
Brazil's external position continue to improve, but we are sticking to our view that further significant gains are unlikely in the second half, given the stronger BRL. For now, though, we still see some momentum, with the unadjusted trade surplus increasing to USD7.2B in June, up from USD4.0B a year earlier. Exports surged 24% year-over-year but imports rose only 3%.
Wage growth will be crucial in determining how quickly the MPC raises interest rates this year. So far, it hasn't recovered meaningfully.
The headline in yesterday's EZ money supply report gave the illusion that monetary conditions are stable, but the details tell a different story. M3 growth accelerated marginally to 5.0% year-over-year in June, from 4.9%, but momentum in narrow money fell further. M1 growth slowed to 8.5% year-over-year, from 9.0% in May due to a fall in overnight deposits and currency in circulation.
Reports yesterday indicated that a deal has finally been struck between the European Commission and the Italian government to start dealing with bad loans in the banking system. The initial details suggest the government will be allowed to guarantee senior tranches on non-performing loans, supposedly making them easier to sell to private investors. In order to avoid burdening government finances as part of the sales--not allowed under the new banking union rules--the idea is to price the guarantees based on the credit risk of similar loans.
Whatever number the BEA publishes this morning for first quarter GDP growth -- we expect zero -- you probably should add about one percentage point to correct for the persistent seasonal adjustment problem which has plagued the data for many years. Reported first quarter growth has been weaker than the average for the preceding three quarters in 21 of the 31 years since 1985 -- and in eight of the past 10 years.
News last week increased our conviction that the economy will struggle over the coming months, but then will have a spring in its step next year.
Friday's detailed GDP data in Germany confirm that the euro area's largest economy performed strongly in the second quarter.
Mexico's central bank, Banxico, will hold its first monetary policy meeting of this year tomorrow. It will break with tradition, holding the meeting on Thursday at 1:00 p.m, local time, instead of the previous 9:00 a.m slot.
Former Treasury Secretary and thwarted would-be Fed Chair Larry Summers has been arguing for some time that the Fed should not raise rates "...until it sees the whites of inflation's eyes". As part of his campaign to persuade actual Fed Chair Yellen of the error of her intended ways, he argued at the World Economic Forum in September that the strong dollar has played no role in depressing inflation. Never one to miss an opportunity to diss the competition, he wrote that Stanley Fischer's view that the dollar has indeed restrained inflation is "substantially weakened" by the hard evidence. Dr. Summers' view is that inflation is being held down by other, longer-lasting factors, principally the slack in the lab or market, rather than the "transitory" influences favored by the Fed.
The risk posed by consumer borrowing was once again the focus of the Financial Policy Committee's discussion last week.
The Fed left in place the three key elements of its statement yesterday, repeating that the extent of labor market under-utilization is "diminishing"; that the inflation drop as a result of falling oil prices will be "transitory" and that the Fed can be "patient" before starting to raise rates.
Last week's QE announcement has made Eurozone inflation prints less important for investors, but the market will still be watching for signs of a turning point in benchmark bond yields. The data are unlikely to challenge bond holders in the short run, however, as the Eurozone probably slipped deeper into deflation in January.
Yesterday's advance CPI report in the Eurozone showed that inflation pressures are rising rapidly. Inflation rose to 1.1% year-over-year in December, from 0.6% in November. Surging energy inflation was the key driver, and this component likely will continue to rise in the next few months. Core inflation, however, stayed subdued, rising only slightly to 0.9%, from 0.8% in November.
Last week's strong ISM manufacturing survey for November likely will be followed by robust data for the non-manufacturing sector today, but the headline index, like its industrial counterpart, likely will dip a bit.
Brazil's economic outlook is gradually improving following a challenging Q2, which was hit by political risk, putting business and consumer confidence under pressure.
LatAm financial markets have performed solidly in the first sessions of the year, with most regional currencies trading more strongly against the USD.
The Argentinian government and the IMF have finally reached a new agreement to "strengthen the 36-month Stand-By Program approved on June 20".
Momentum in EZ money supply slipped marginally in September. Headline M3 growth slowed to 5.0%, from 5.1%, mainly due to a slowdown in narrow money. Overnight deposit growth slowed to 9.4%, from 9.9% in August, offsetting a slight rise in growth of currency in circulation.
Mr. Draghi snubbed investors looking for hints on policy and the euro in his Jackson Hole address--see here--on Friday.
The startling jump in supplier delivery times in the June ISM manufacturing survey, to a 14-year high, was due--according to the ISM press release--to disruptions to steel and aluminum supplies, transportation problems and "supplier labor issues".
The CPIH--the controversial, modified version of the existing CPI that includes a measure of owner occupied housing, or OOH, costs--will become the headline measure of consumer price inflation when February's data are published on March 21.
The headline employment cost index has been remarkably dull recently, with three straight 0.6% quarterly increases. The consensus forecast for today's report, for the three months to December, is for the same again.
The EU's negotiations with the U.K. over Brexit are off to a bad start. The position in Brussels is that negotiations on a new relationship can't begin before the bill on the U.K.'s existing membership is settled. But this has been met with resistance by Westminster; the U.K. does not recognise the condition of an upfront payment to leave.
Yesterday's advance Eurozone Q4 GDP report conformed to expectations. Headline GDP increased 0.6% quarter-on-quarter, slowing trivially from an upwardly-revised 0.7% rise in Q3, and nudging the year-over-year rate down marginally to 2.7%.
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%.
Yesterday's advance CPI data in Germany suggest that inflation fell slightly in August.
This Budget will be remembered as the moment when the Government finally threw in the towel on plans to run sustainable public finances.
October's money and credit report indicates that the economy had little momentum at the start of the fourth quarter.
It's not our job to pontificate on the merits, or otherwise, of the tax cut bill from a political perspective.
Political volatility is a recurrent theme in Brazil. Six members of President Michel Temer's cabinet resigned last Friday due to allegations of conflict of interest on a construction deal. Rumours that President Temer was involved in the affair stirred up market volatility and revived political risk concerns
The headlines from Catalonia are as confusing as ever, but we are sticking to our view--see here--that regional elections are the only reasonable outcome of the chaos.
June's money and credit figures showed that the economy still doesn't have much zing, even though lending has picked up since Q1.
Today's October ADP measure of private payrolls likely will overshoot Friday's official number.
Many investors probably glossed over yesterday's barrage of data in the Eurozone, for fear of being caught out by another swoon in Italian bond yields. Don't worry, we are here to help.
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.
Yesterday's data kicked off the release of Eurozone Q3 growth numbers with a robust Spanish headline. Real GDP in Spain rose 0.8% quarter-on-quarter, slowing slightly from 0.9% in Q2, and le aving the year-over-year rate unchanged at 3.1%.
The Japanese unemployment rate fell again in September, to 2.3% from 2.4%. In the same vein, the job-to-applicant ratio rose to 1.64, from 1.63.
Today's advance EZ CPI report likely will show that inflation pressures eased in May. We think inflation slipped to 1.5% year-over-year, from 1.9% in April, as the boost to the core rate from the late Easter faded.
The outlook for Argentina is improving. We expect economic growth to remain quite strong over the next year, despite a relatively soft start to 2017 and increasing external threats in recent weeks. The INDEC index of economic activity--a monthly proxy for GDP--is volatile, rising 1.9% month-to-month in March after a 2.6% drop in February, but the underlying trend is improving.
Downside risks to our growth forecast for Brazil and Mexico for this year have diminished this week. In Brazil, concerns over the potential impact of the meat scandal on the economy have diminished. Some key global customers, including Hong Kong, have in recent days eased restrictions on imports from Brazil, and other counties have ended their bans.
Yesterday's advance data from Germany and Spain suggest that today's Eurozone inflation report will undershoot the consensus. In Germany, headline inflation slipped to 1.6% in March from 2.2% in February, and in Spain the headline rate plunged to 2.3% from 3.0%.
The national accounts look set to show that GDP growth in the fourth quarter was even stronger than previously estimated. Earlier this month, quarter-on-quarter growth in construction output in Q4 was revised up to 1.2%, from 0.2%. As a result, construction's contribution to GDP growth will rise by 0.07 percentage points.
Today's data likely will show that inflation in the Eurozone rebounded in November.
The unemployment rate hit its post-1970 low in April 2000, at the peak of the first internet boom, when it nudged down to just 3.8%. The low in the next cycle, first reached in October 2006, was rather higher, at 4.4%.
The Brazilian economy enjoyed a decent Q2, with GDP rising 0.2% quarter-on-quarter, despite the disruptions caused by the truck drivers' strike, after a 0.1% decline in Q1.
Friday's advance GDP data provided the first solid evidence of a Q1 slowdown in the euro area economy.
Today's local elections are more important than usual, because they will enable investors to assess if the Conservatives really are on track for a landslide victory in the general election, as suggested by the opinion polls and priced-in by the forex market.
Recently data from Argentina continue to signal a firming cyclical recovery. According to INDEC's EMAE economic activity index, a monthly proxy for GDP, the economy grew 4.0% year-over-year in June, up from an already-solid 3.4% in May.
This week's March economic activity reports in Chile have been relatively strong, with the industrial sector expanding briskly and retail sales solid.
Auto industry watchers at WardsAuto and JD Power are in agreement that today's September sales numbers will be little changed from a year ago, at around 17.5M.
Colombia's sluggish growth and near-term economic outlook resembles that of most other LatAm economies. Domestic demand is weak, credit conditions are tight, and confidence is depressed. The medium term outlook, however, is perking up, slowly.
Last week's advance EZ GDP data for the first quarter suggest the economy shrugged off the volatility in financial markets. Eurostat's first estimate indicates that real GDP in the euro area rose 0.6% quarter-on-quarter in Q1, up from 0.3% in Q4, and above the consensus, 0.4%.
September's Markit/CIPS PMIs indicate that the economy still is stuck in a low gear.
While we were enjoying a rare sunny bank holiday in the U.K., data showed that Eurozone money supply growth slowed at the start of Q3. Broad money growth--M3--fell to a 10-month low of 4.5% year-over- year in July, from 5.0% in August.
Over the sleepy August holidays, a view has gained traction in the media that the U.K. economy is showing little damage from the Brexit vote. Optimists argue that the size and composition of the 0.6% quarter-on-quarter rise in Q2 GDP, the 1.4% month-to-month jump in retail sales volumes in July, and the slight dip in the unemployment claimant count demonstrate that the recovery is in good shape.
Today's ADP employment report for December ought to show private payrolls continue to rise at a very solid pace
Retail sales data later today will provide further support for the upbeat consumer story in the Eurozone. We expect a third monthly gain in a row, taking retail sales to a 0.8% expansion quarter-on-quarter in Q4, the fastest since the end of 2006. We are seeing clear signs of improvement in the Eurozone economy, and the data are forcing us to recognise upside risks to our Q4 GDP forecast of 0.3-to-0.4%
Brazil's unadjusted current account surplus soared to USD2.9B in May, its highest level since 2006, from USD1.1B in May 2016.
Fiscal policy is in limbo until a new leader of the Conservative party has been elected on September 9. Shortly after, however, a new Budget--or a Budget disguised as an Autumn Statement--will be held.
Markets will be extremely sensitive to economic data in the run-up to the MPC's next meeting on August 3, following signals from several Committee members that they think the cas e for a rate rise has strengthened.
Consumption remains an important source of economic growth in LatAm.
Mexico's trade balance shrank slightly last year, to USD11B, from USD13B in 2016. The main driver was a big swing in the non- energy balance, to a record USD8.0B surplus, following a USD0.4B deficit in 2016.
Data yesterday showed that Momentum in the EZ retail sector stumbled through middle of Q2.
We have argued recently that the year-over-year rates of core CPI and core PCE inflation could cross over the next year, with core PCE rising more quickly for the first time since 2010.
August's 14-year high in the ISM manufacturing index, reported yesterday, clearly is a noteworthy event from a numerology perspective, but we doubt it marks the start of a renewed upward trend.
Brazil's recovery has been steady in recent months, and Q1 likely will mark the end of the recession. The gradual recovery of the industrial and agricultural sectors has been the highlight, thanks to improving external demand, the lagged effect of the more competitive BRL, and the more stable political situation, which has boosted sentiment.
The participation rate--the proportion of people either in or looking for work--has held steady over the last decade, despite the ageing of the population and the rise in student numbers.
Markets cheered soaring business surveys in the Eurozone earlier this week, and recent consumer sentiment data also have been cause for celebration. The advance GfK consumer confidence index in Germany rose to a record high of 10.4 in June, from 10.2 in May.
The Chancellor hinted in the Autumn Statement that the fiscal consolidation might not be as severe as it appears on paper because he has built in some "fiscal headroom". By that, Mr. Hammond means that he could borrow more and still adhere to his new, self-imposed rules.
As things stand, we see little reason to revise down our forecasts for the U.K. economy in response to the tailspin in equity markets
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.
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.
The Italian economy slowed at the end 2017, and it continues to underperform other major EZ economies. Real GDP rose 0.2% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, a bit slower than the 0.3% gain in Q3, pushing full-year growth up to a modest 1.0%. This compares poorly, though, with growth of 1.6% in the euro area as a whole.
Today brings new housing market data, in the form of the weekly applications numbers from the MBA. The weekly data are seasonally adjusted but are still very volatile, especially in the spring.
The second estimate of GDP left the estimate of quarter-on-quarter growth unrevised at 0.3%, a trivial improvement on Q1's 0.2% gain.
The bad economic news in Brazil is unstoppable. The mid-month CPI index rose 1.3% month-to-month in February, as education, housing, and transport prices increased. School tuition fees jumped 6% month-to-month in February, reflecting their annual adjustment, and transport costs rose by 2% due to an increase in regulated gasoline prices.
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're guessing Fed Chair Yellen would have preferred to have another acceleration in hourly earnings and a dip in the unemployment rate along side the hefty 211K leap in November payrolls, but no matter. At its October meeting, the Fed wanted to see "some further improvement in the labor market", and by any reasonable standard a 509K total increase in payrolls in two months fits the bill.
The new fiscal year began on April 6, marking the post-election intensification of the fiscal squeeze for many households. The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates net tax and benefit changes will subtract 1.2 percentage points from year-over-year growth in households' disposable incomes in 2016.
Colombia's economy activity is deteriorating rapidly, suggesting that BanRep will have to cut interest rates on Friday. Incoming data make it clear that the economy has moved into a period of deceleration, painting a starkly different picture than a year ago.
The key data today, covering March durable goods orders and international trade in goods, should both beat consensus forecasts.
Yesterday's EZ PMI data surprised to the downside. The composite PMI in the euro area dipped to 52.9 in August, from 53.2 in July, below the initial estimate 53.3. The headline was marred by weakness in the German services PMI, which crashed to a 40-month low of 51.7, from 54.4 in July.
Japanese average cash earnings posted a surprise drop of 0.4% year-over-year in June, down from 0.6% in May and sharply below the consensus for a rise of 0.5%. The decline was driven by a fall in the June bonus, by 1.5%.
French manufacturing confidence soared at the start of Q2. The headline INSEE index jumped to a six-year high of 108 in April, from an upwardly revised 105 in March. The headline was flattered by a big increase in the "past activity" index, but the survey's leading indicators also improved.French manufacturing confidence soared at the start of Q2. The headline INSEE index jumped to a six-year high of 108 in April, from an upwardly revised 105 in March. The headline was flattered by a big increase in the "past activity" index, but the survey's leading indicators also improved.
The two main national surveys--IFO and INSEE-- both beat consensus forecasts yesterday, supporting our story of that economic sentiment is holding up relatively well in the face increasing investor anxiety. In Germany, the main IFO business climate index rose marginally to 108.5 from a revised 108.4 in August, boosted by an increase in the expectations index to a six-month high of 103.3, up from 102.0 in August. The IFO expectations index points to real GDP growth rising 0.5%-to-0.6% quarter-on-quarter in Q3.
The rising trend in U.S. oil production was interrupted only briefly by the hurricanes.
August's public finances figures, released last week, were an unwelcome but manageable setback for the Chancellor.
The Prime Minister's refusal last week to reaffirm her party's 2015 election pledge not to raise income tax, National Insurance or VAT has fuelled speculation that taxes will rise if the Conservatives are re-elected on June 8. Admittedly, Mrs. May asserted that her party "believes in lower taxes", and the tax pledge s till might appear in the Conservatives' manifesto, which won't be published for a few weeks.
The downturn in car sales is showing no sign of abating. Data released yesterday by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed that private registrations fell 10.1% year-over-year in October, much worse than the 6.6% average drop in the previous 12 months.
The recovery in existing home sales appears to have stalled, at best.
Friday's final EZ inflation report of 2017 sent a dovish signal to bond markets.
Yesterday's data in the Eurozone did little to calm investors' nerves amid rising political uncertainty in Italy and tremors in emerging markets.
Yesterday's second estimate of Q3 GDP confirmed that the U.K. economy has underperformed this year.
The minutes of the May 2/3 FOMC meeting today should add some color to policymakers' blunt assertion that "The Committee views the slowing in growth during the first quarter as likely to be transitory and continues to expect that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace, labor market conditions will strengthen somewhat further, and inflation will stabilize around 2 percent over the medium term."
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 1.4% month-to-month rise in retail sales volumes in February is not a game-changer for the economy's growth prospects in Q1. The increase reversed just under half of the 2.9% decline between October and January. The 1.5% fall in retail sales in the three months to February, compared to the previous three months, is the worst result in seven years.
Brazil has made a convincing escape from high inflation in the past few months, laying the groundwork for a gradual economic recovery and faster cuts in interest rates. Mid-March CPI data, released this week, confirmed that inflation pressures eased substantially this month.
The build-up to today's ECB meeting has drowned in the focus on Italy's new political situation and the rising risk of a global trade war.
Markets have been positively surprised by Brazil's rapid disinflation, the efforts at fiscal reform, and the prospect of growth in the economy this year. The Ibovespa index is now above its pre-crisis high and the real has approached the key level of three per USD in recent months. But the latest GDP report, released yesterday, showed that the economy struggled in Q4. Real GDP fell 0.9% quarter-on-quarter, worse than the revised 0.7% drop in Q3.
Yesterday's detailed GDP report in Germany showed net exports propelled GDP growth to a cyclical high last quarter.
Markets expect the MPC to shelve November's guidance--that interest rates need to rise only twice in the next three years--at today's meeting.
A plunge in imports saved the EZ economy from a contraction in second quarter GDP. Yesterday's final data showed that real GDP growth rose 0.3% quarter- on-quarter, slowing from a 0.5% jump in Q1. A 0.4 percentage points boost from net exports was the key driving force.
The FTSE 100 has dropped by 7% since the end of September--leaving it on course for its worst month since May 2012--and now is 12% below its May peak.
The jobless claims numbers today likely will mark the end of the calm before the storm effect, even though the data cover the week ended September 1, and Harvey hit on August 26.
Broad-based inflation pressures in Brazil remain tame despite the sharp BRL depreciation this year, totalling about 7% in the last three months alone.
The release yesterday of the weekly Redbook chainstore sales report for the week ended Saturday August 4 means that we now have a complete picture of July sales.
Korea's preliminary GDP report for Q3 will be released tomorrow.
Banxico's likely will deliver the widely-anticipated rate hike this Thursday. Policymakers' recent actions suggests that investors should expect a 50bp increase, in line with TIIE pric ing and the market consensus. The balance of risks to inflation has deteriorated markedly on the back of the "gasolinazo", a sharp increase in regulated gasoline prices imposed to raise money and attract foreign investment.
The PMIs are telling an increasingly upbeat story for the EZ economy in Q4. The composite PMI in the euro area rose to an 11-month high of 54.1 in November, from 53.3 in October. The uptick was driven by strong new business growth across all private sectors, and employment also increased in response to higher work backlogs.
Yesterday's barrage of economic data in the Eurozone offered a good snapshot of the grand narrative.
The IFO did its part to alleviate the stock market gloom yesterday, with the business climate index rising slightly to 108.3 in August from 108.0 in July. The August reading doesn't reflect the panic in equities, though, and we need to wait until next month to gauge the real hit to business sentiment. The increase in the headline index was driven by businesses assessment of current output, with the key expectations index falling trivially to 102.2 from a revised 102.3 in July. This survey currently points to a stable trend in real GDP growth of about 0.4% quarter-on-quarter, consistent with our expectation of full year growth of about 1.5%.
The trend of consensus-beating EZ economic data was brought to a halt yesterday. The IFO business climate index in Germany slipped to a five-month low of 109.8 in January, from 111.0 in December, mainly due to a fall in the expectations index. But we are not alarmed. The dip in the headline comes after a run of strong data, and the IFO remains consistent with GDP growth of about 1.6% year-over-year.
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%.
The fall in the cost of new secured credit has played a key role in reinvigorating the economy over the last couple of years. Mortgage interest payments were 3.7% lower in Q3 than in the same quarter a year previously, even though the stock of secured debt was 2% larger. As a result, the percentage of household disposable incomes taken up by mortgage interest payments fell to 4.8% in the third quarter of 2015--the lowest proportion since records began in 1987--from 5.2% a year before.
The preliminary estimate of GDP showed that the economy finished 2016 on a strong note. Output increased by 0.6% quarter-on-quarter, the same rate as in the previous two quarters. The year-over-year growth rate of GDP in 2016 as a whole--2.0%--was low by pre-crisis standards, but it likely puts the U.K. at the top of the G7 growth leaderboard. We cannot tell how well the economy would have performed had the U.K. not voted to leave the EU in June, but clearly the threat of Brexit has not loomed large over the economy.
We were wrong about headline durable goods orders in April, because the civilian aircraft component behaved very strangely.
Demand in German manufacturing rebounded strongly midway through the second quarter.
Colombia started the second quarter strongly, with the ISE economic activity indicator--a monthly proxy for GDP--expanding a solid and surprising 3.6% year-over-year in April, up from 2.9% in March. The rate of growth is well above the 2.8% gain in Q1, con firming the country's resiliency in the face of lower oil prices. Still, growth has slowed sharply since the 4.4% increase in activity in 2014, as our first chart shows.
Economic data in the Eurozone are sending an increasingly upbeat message on the economy. Yesterday saw a barrage of numbers, but the most startling of them was the continued acceleration in the money supply.
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.
Brazil's inflation rate remained well under control over the first half of February. We see no threats in the near term, indicating that more stimulus will be forthcoming from the BCB.
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.
The U.K.'s political situation is extremely fluid, so it would be risky automatically to assume that the U.K. is heading for Brexit. Although the Prime Minister has resigned, his attempt to hold out until October to begin the formal process of exiting the E.U. signals that he may be seeking to engineer a revised deal, or at least to force his successor to make the momentous decision of whether to trigger Article 50, to begin the leaving process.
Friday's advance Eurozone PMI reports capped a fine quarter for the survey. The composite PMI jumped to a 80-month high of 56.7 in March, from 56.1 in February, rising to a cyclical high over Q1 as a whole.
The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, which contains granular detail on wages and provides a useful cross-check on the regular average weekly wage earnings--AWE--data, was published yesterday.
The headline durable goods orders number for October, due today, likely will be depressed by falling aircraft orders, both civilian and military. Boeing reported orders for 55 civilian aircraft in September, compared to only three in August, but a hefty adverse swing in the seasonal factor will translate that into a small seasonally adjusted decline.
Real M1 growth is slowing, and financial conditions are beginning to tighten in the Eurozone, but shortleading indicators continue to signal firm momentum in the economy.
The final Eurozone PMIs indicate that the cyclical recovery continued in Q1, but downside risks are rising. The composite index rose marginally to 53.0 in March, from 53.1 in February, below the initial estimate 53.7. Over the quarter as a whole, though, the index fell to 53.2 from 54.1 in Q4, indicating that economic momentum moderated in the first quarter.
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.
President Temer seems to be advancing on his reform agenda.
The balance of risks to activity in Mexico this year is still tilted to the downside, even though recent data have been mixed. Key indicators show that the manufacturing sector is gathering strength on the back of lagged effect of the MXN's sell-off last year, and the improving U.S. economy.
Recent upbeat economic reports have mitigated the downside risks we had been flagging to our growth forecast for Mexico for the current quarter.
Data today will likely show that consumer sentiment in the Eurozone remains firm. In Germany, we expect a slight dip in the advance headline GFK confidence index to 9.8 in June, from an all-time high of 10.1 in May.
Yesterday's ECB meeting was comfortably uneventful for markets.
Economic activity is slowing in Colombia. The ISE activity index--a monthly proxy for GDP--rose only 0.6% year-over-year in April, down from 2.3% in March, and we expect it to rise at this pace over the coming months. During the first quarter, the index rose at an average year-over-year rate of 3.0%.
The verdict from the German business surveys is in; economic growth probably slowed further in Q2.
October's Markit/CIPS services survey added to evidence that the economy has started Q4 on a very weak footing.
Economic growth in Chile picked up in Q1, but the recovery remains disappointingly weak, due to both global and domestic headwinds. The latest Imacec index, a proxy for GDP, rose just 2.1% year-over-year in March, slowing from a 2.8% gain in February. Assuming no revisions next month, economic activity rose 1.2% quarter-on-quarter in Q1, better than the 0.9% increase in Q4. These data points to a modest pick-up in GDP growth in Q1, to 1.8% year-over-year, from 1.3% in Q4.
This was supposed to be the year that wage growth finally would pick up and signal clearly to the MPC that the economy needs higher interest rates.
Political risks have been making an unwelcome comeback in the Eurozone in the past month. In Germany, last month's parliamentary elections--see here--has left Mrs. Merkel with a tricky coalition- building exercise.
Yesterday's national business surveys provided an optimistic counterbalance to the underwhelming PMIs on Monday, although they all suggest that the euro area economy is in good form.
Chile's economy remains under pressure, at least temporarily. After signs of recovery in Q1, activity deteriorated in Q2 and at the start of the third quarter. The sluggish global economy--especially China, Chile's main trading partner--is exacerbating the domestic slowdown, hit by low business and consumer confidence.
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.
The EZ retail sector slowed at the start of Q3, though only slightly.
LatAm assets have struggled in recent days as it has become clear that the Fed will hike next week. But we don't expect currencies to collapse, as domestic fundamentals are improving and the broader external outlook is relatively benign.
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.
September's GDP report laid bare the economy's sluggishness.
Revisions to the first quarter productivity numbers, due today, likely will be trivial, given the minimal 0.1 percentage point downward revision to GDP growth reported last week.
Short-term interest rates in the Eurozone continue to imply that the ECB will lower rates further this year. Two-year yields have been stuck in a very tight range around -0.5% since March, indicating that investors expect the central bank again to reduce its deposit rate from its current level of -0.4%. This is not our base case, though, and we think that investors focused on deflation and a dovish ECB will be caught out by higher inflation.
It's always dangerous when risk assets rally strongly into an ECB meeting, but we doubt that investors have much to fear from today's session in Frankfurt. We think the central bank will leave its main refinancing and deposit rates at 0.00% and -0.4% respectively.
The second estimate of Q1 GDP made for grim reading. Quarter-on-quarter GDP growth was revised down to 0.2%--the joint-slowest rate since Q4 2012--from the preliminary estimate of 0.3%.
Everyone needs to take a deep breath: This is not 1930, and Smoot-Hawley all over again.
Survey data continue to suggest that GDP growth will accelerate in Q1. The final PMI reports on Friday showed that the headline EZ composite index rose to 56.0 in February, from 54.4 in January, in line with the first estimate.
If 2017 really is the year of "reflation", somebody forgot to tell the gilt market. Among the G7 group, 10-year yields have fallen only in the U.K. during the last three months, as our first chart shows.
Eurozone consumers had a slow start to the second quarter. Retail sales increased a modest 0.1% month- to-month in April, but the March headline was revised up by 0.3 percentage points, and the year-over-year rate increased by 0.2pp to 1.7% due to base effects.
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.
Yesterday was a good day for headline EZ economic data. GDP growth accelerated, inflation rose and unemployment fell further. Advance Q4 data showed that real GDP in the Eurozone rose 0.5% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, marginally faster than the upwardly revised 0.4% in Q3. Full-year growth in 2016 slowed slightly to 1.7% from 2.0% in 2015.
Eurozone inflation eased slightly to 0.2% year-over- year in June, down from 0.3% in May, according to the advance data but we continue to think that the trend has turned up. A 5.1% fall in energy prices, accelerating from a 4.8% in May, was partly to blame for the fall in June. But the key driver was the sharp drop in services inflation to 1.0% from 1.3% in May, likely due to volatility in package holiday prices.
We're expecting a strong-looking 225K increase in the May ADP measure of private sector payroll growth, due today. The consensus forecast is 180K.
Brazilian inflation has been well under control in the past few months, laying the ground for a final rate cut at the monetary policy meeting on March 21.
We're expecting the FOMC to vote unanimously not raise rates today, but we do expect a modestly hawkish tilt in the statement. Specifically, we're expecting an acknowledgment of the upturn in business investment reported in the Q4 GDP data, and of the increase in market-based measures of inflation expectations, given that 10-year TIPS breakevens are now above 2% for the first time since September 2014.
All the regional PMI and Fed business surveys we follow suggest that today's national ISM manufacturing report for November will be weaker than in October
The Bank of England's stress tests highlighted that banks have made further progress in strengthening their balance sheets over the last year. But while banks have retreated from taking risk onto their balance sheets, others have stepped in to fill the void.
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.
Chile's April retail sales data, released on Monday, show that private consumption started the second quarter on a solid footing. Sales rose 3.0% month-to-month, pushing the year-over-rate up to 7.9% from 1.4% in March and an average of 4.0% in Q1. The headline was boosted by a favourable calendar effect, as April this year had two more trading days than April 2015.
We're expecting the April ISM report today to bring yet more evidence that the manufacturing cycle is peaking, though we remain of the view that the next cyclical downturn is still some way off.
On the face of it, the timing of the drop in the E.C.'s measure of consumers' confidence, to its lowest level since July 2016 in April, is peculiar.
If you apply a seasonal adjustment to a seasonally adjusted series, it shouldn't change. When you apply a seasonal adjustment to the U.S. GDP numbers, they do change. First quarter growth, reported Friday at just 0.7%, goes up to 1.7%, on our estimate.
House purchase mortgage approvals by the main street banks jumped to 40.1K in January, from 36.1K in December, fully reversing the 4K fall of the previous two months, according to trade body U.K. Finance.
When the Fed raised rates in December, it subverted one of its own long-standing conventions by hiking with the ISM manufacturing index below 50. The December survey, released just 15 days before the meeting, showed the headline index slipping to 48.6, the third straight sub-50 reading. It has since been revised down to 48.0, the lowest reading since June 2009.
Inflation in the euro area edged higher in November, but our prediction of a rebound in the core proved to be wrong. Headline inflation increased to 1.5% in November, from 1.4% in October.
Advance data indicate German inflation rose to 0.4% year-over-year in November, up from 0.3% in October, lifted by higher food and energy price inflation. The upward trend in food prices won't last, but base effects in energy prices will persist, boosting headline inflation significantly in coming months. The details show that services inflation was stable at 1.2% last month, despite state data indicating a fall in volatile leisure and entertainment inflation, while net rent inflation was also stable, at 1.1%.
The European financial sector was in the news again on Friday, propelled by further weakness in Deutsche Bank's share price. In our Monitor of September 27, we said that worries of a European "Lehman Moment" were overblown.
Markets were on the right side of the argument with economists about the outlook for monetary policy in 2015, but we doubt history will repeat itself this year. The consensus among economists a year ago was for interest rates to rise to 0.75% from 0.5% by the end of 2015, in contrast to the markets' view that an increase was unlikely.
Data this week clearly hint at a cyclical trough in Eurozone inflation in the first quarter. The advance estimate for April shows year-over-year inflation rising slightly to zero, up from -0.1% in March.
The Eurozone is back in headline deflation, increasing the pressure on the ECB to deliver further easing when it meets next week. Inflation fell to -0.2% in February, from +0.3% in January, depressed by energy and food prices.
Claus Vistesen has several years' experience in the independent macro research space, as a freelancer, consultant and, latterly, as Head of Research of Variant Perception, Inc. He holds Master's degrees in economics and finance from the Copenhagen Business School and the University of Hull.
Pantheon Macroeconomics' Chief Economist Dr. Ian Shepherdson provides unbiased, independent economic intelligence to financial market professionals.
Data released over the holidays suggest that money supply dynamics in the Eurozone remain solid, but also that growth is no longer accelerating. M3 growth slipped to 5.1% year-over-year in November from 5.3% in October, partly due to a sharp monthly fall in the stock of repurchase agreements. Momentum in narrow money, however, also dipped. M1 growth slowed to 11.2% year-over-year from 11.8% in October, mainly due to a modest fall in overnight deposit growth.
The odds of the MPC cutting interest rates again in November took another knock yesterday after further signs that the manufacturing sector is getting back on its feet quickly.
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
The latest money and credit data highlight that the financial fortunes of firms and households have begun to differ markedly. Private non- financial corporations--PNFCs--are enjoying strong growth in their broad money holdings. The 1.2% month-to-month increase in PNFC's M4 was the largest rise since August 2016, and it lifted the year- over-year growth rate to 9.3%, from 9.0% in May.
German Q4 GDP data this week will give little comfort to investors searching for signs of a resilient economy in the face of increased market volatility. The consensus expects unchanged GDP growth of 0.3% quarter-on-quarter, consistent with solid and stable survey data. But downbeat industrial production and retail sales data point to notable downside risk.
EZ bond markets were stung earlier this week by a Bloomberg story suggesting that the ECB, in principle, has agreed on a QE exit strategy which involves "tapering" purchases by €10B per month. The story also specified, though, that the central bank has not discussed when tapering will begin.
The outlook for Brazil's industrial economy is better than at any time since before the crisis. But data released this week highlighted that the recovery will be slow and bumpy.
Taken at face value, September's money supply data suggest that the economy is ebullient, quickly recovering from the shock referendum result. Year-over-year growth in notes and coins in circulation has accelerated to its highest rate since June 2002.
The collapse in business activity and consumer confidence since the referendum has sealed the deal on policy easing from the MPC on Thursday. The Committee has cut Bank Rate by 50 basis points when the composite PMI has been near July's level in the past, as our first chart shows.
Uncertainty about the U.S. economic and political outlook, following Donald Trump's presidential win, likely will cast a long shadow over EM in general and LatAm in particular. On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump argued for tearing up NAFTA and building a border wall.
Markets rightly interpreted yesterday's above consensus GDP report as having little impact on the outlook for monetary policy.
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.
Recent economic indicators in Mexico have been relatively positive.
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.
Before last November's election, movements in the headline NFIB index of activity and sentiment among small businesses could be predicted quite reliably from shifts in the key labor market components, which are released in advance of the main survey.
Friday's inflation report for Brazil confirmed that inflation is rapidly falling towards the BCB's target range, helping to make the case for stepping up the pace of monetary easing to 50bp at the Copom's January meeting.
Japan is the only major advanced economy to have recently experienced an exchange rate depreciation as large as Britain's. Between July 2012 and May 2013, the yen f ell by 24%, matching sterling's depreciation since its peak in August 2015.
Last week's official data supported our forecast that GDP growth likely will slow further in Q1, suggesting that a May rate hike is not the sure bet that markets assume.
A firmer picture is emerging of how Japan's economy fared in Q3, in light of the latest slew of data for August.
In yesterday's report we discussed the recent performance of current inflation and inflation expectations in the biggest economies in LatAm, highlighting that risks are tilted to the upside, given the recent FX sell-off and rising political and external risks.
Markets are looking for the BCCh to remain on hold and the BCRP to ease on Thursday; we think they will be right. In Chile, the BCCh will hold rates because inflation pressures are absent and economic activity is stabilizing following temporary hits in Q1 and early Q2.
Yesterday's Mexican industrial data painted a downbeat picture of the sector at the end of last year, and highlighted the downside risks facing the economy in the first half of this year. Industrial output fell 0.1% month-to-month and was flat year over-year in December, with weakness in all sectors except manufacturing. Overall, industrial activity expanded by only 0.2% year-over-year in the fourth quarter, the slowest pace since late 2013.
First things first: Payroll growth likely will be sustained at or close to November's pace.
Peru's central bank likely will cut its main interest rate by 25bp to 3.25% on Thursday. Inflation dipped in September and likely will increase only marginally in October, while economic growth was relatively sluggish at the start of Q3.
The ECB made no major policy changes yesterday. The central bank kept its refinancing and deposit rates unchanged at 0.00% and -0.4% respectively, and the scheduled reduction in the pace of QE to €60B per month was confirmed. The core part of the central bank's language retained its dovish bias.
The French manufacturing sector slowed more than we expected in Q1.
Slowly but surely, it is becoming respectable to argue that central bank policy in the developed world is part of the problem of slow growth, not the solution. We have worried for some time that the signal sent by ZIRP--that the economy is in terrible shape--is more than offsetting the cash-flow gains to borrowers.
Brazil's retail sales ended the second quarter on a less-bad footing. Sales volumes increased 0.1% month-to-month in June, pushing the year-over-year rate up to -5.3%, from -9.0% in May. Smoothed year-over-year growth in retail sales has improved to -7% from its cyclical trough of around -9% in the end of last year.
Bond investors in Italy voted with their feet on Friday with news that the government has agreed a 2019 budget deficit of 2.4%.
The case for believing that August's unexpected 14-year high in the ISM manufacturing index was a fluke is pretty straightforward, and it has both short and medium-term elements.
We have been rigorous in using the word nascent whenever referring to Japan's wage-price spiral.
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%.
Investors have been caught out by the speed of the recent rise in RPI inflation and have revised up their expectations. Even so, inflation swaps imply that markets expect RPI inflation to be 3.6% in one year's time, not much above the latest print, 3.2% in February. We still think RPI inflation will exceed markets' expectations.
The hard data now point to a horrendous Q3 GDP print in Germany, which almost surely will constrain the advance EZ GDP print released on October 30.
Mexican economic growth was subdued during the first half of the year, and we expect it to remain weak over the coming months. The economy has been held back largely by external headwinds, especially low oil prices and disruptions to activity in the US, its main trading partner.
Note: This updates our initial post-election thoughts, adding more detail to the fiscal policy discussion. Apologies for the density of the text, but there's a lot to say. Our core conclusions have not changed since the election result emerged. The biggest single economic policy change, by far, will be on the fiscal front.
We have not been expecting the Fed to raise rates next week, and yesterday's data made a hike even less likely. The September Philly Fed and Empire State surveys were alarmingly weak everywhere except the headline level, and the official August production data were grim.
The Mexican labor market has remained relatively healthy in recent months, despite many external and domestic headwinds. Formal employment has increased by 2.1% year-to-date and by 3½% in the year to July, according to the Mexican Social Security Institute.
Colombia's retail sector surprised to the upside once again in December, despite a number of domestic headwinds. Sales jumped 6.2% year- over-year, up from 4.9% in November, marking an impressive end to the quarter. The underlying trend improved significantly in Q4, as shown in our first chart. A double-digit rise in auto sales was the main driver, offsetting weakness in other key components.
German 10-year government bond yields jumped at the end of 2016, but have since been locked in a tight range around 0.4%, despite a steady inflow of strong economic data.
Last week's industrial report confirmed that the Mexican economy softened at the end of the second quarter. Industrial production was unchanged year- over-year in June, calendar-and seasonally adjusted, down marginally from +0.1% in May.
The rate of growth of real personal incomes is under sustained downward pressure, slowing to 2.1% year-over-year in December from 3.4% in the year to December 2015. In January, we think real income growth will dip below 2%, thanks to the spike in the headline CPI, reported Wednesday. Our first chart shows that the 0.6% increase in the index likely will translate into a 0.5% jump in the PCE deflator, generating the first month-to-month decline in real incomes since January last year.
We're not expecting drama from Chair Yellen's semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony in the Senate today. Dr. Yellen will want to keep alive the idea of a rate hike next month, but she will not signal that action is likely, given the continuing lack of clarity on the path of fiscal policy.
When the dust settles after today's wave of data, we expect to have learned that core retail sales continued to rise in June, core inflation nudged back up to its cycle high, and manufacturing output rebounded after an auto-led drop in May. None of these reports will be enough to push the Fed into early action, but they will add to the picture of a reasonably solid domestic economy ahead of the U.K. Brexit referendum.
Chile's central bank cut the policy rate 25bp last week to 3.0%, in line with consensus, amid easing inflationary pressures. The timing of the rate cut was no surprise; in January, the BCCh cut rates for the first time in more than two years, and kept a dovish bias.
The FOMC's statement on April 29 mentioned the winter--"...economic growth slowed during the winter months"--but did not explicitly blame any of the first quarter's weakness on the extended cold and snowy weather. That was a change from the March statement, which made no mention of the weather and gave the distinct impression that policymakers had no firm view on why growth had "moderated".
We have no argument with the consensus view that the language accompanying Wednesday's rate hike will be emollient. The FOMC likely will point out that the policy stance remains very accommodative, and seek to reinforce the idea that it intends to raise rates slowly. That said, recent FOMC statements have not offered any specific guidance on the pace of tightening, saying instead that the Fed "...will take a balanced approach consistent with its longer-run goals... even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run."
House price inflation in tier-one cities has been crushed by China's most recent monetary tightening. This is a sharp turnaround from the overheating mid-way through last year. Unlike in previous cycles, interest rates are probably more important for house prices than broad money growth.
In the absence of new economic data today, we want to take the opportunity to expand on the key themes in our latest Chartbook, which was distributed Friday.
As we're writing, the price of U.S. crude oil is only about 50 cents per barrel lower than on Thursday, when markets began to anticipate an OPEC deal to cut production over the weekend. The failure of the Doha talks generated an initial sharp drop in oil prices, but the damage now is very limited, as our first chart shows.
The BoJ yesterday published its semi-annual Financial System Report, which often gives insights into the longer-term thinking driving BoJ policy.
A sharp ARS sell-off was the key highlight while we were away over the holidays.
Chile's economic outlook is still clouded, due mostly to the slowdown in China and low copper prices. But the steady, slow increase in the Imacec index, a monthly proxy for GDP, supports our view of a sustained but modest economic recovery this year. The index increased 1.8% year-over-year in November, marginally up from the meagre 1.5% gain in October, but below the 2.2% average seen during Q3 as a whole. November's gain was driven by an increase in services activity, offsetting weakness in mining. Services have been the key engine of growth in the current cycle and likely will remain so in H1.
Brazil's inflation rate is in double digits for the first time in 12 years. The benchmark IPCA price index rose 1.0% month-to-month in November, lifting the year-over-year rate to 10.5%, the highest since November 2003. The core IPCA increased 0.7% month-to-month, pushing the year-over-year rate in November up to 8.9% from 8.6% in October.
This year, Brazil has been the perfect example of all the problems faced by EM countries over the last few decades. A long and deep recession, high inflation, fiscal crisis, political chaos, a commodity price crunch, sharp currency depreciation and lack of confidence have all worked together to hammer the economy and investor confidence. These factors all contributed to S&P downgrading Brazil to junk status on Wednesday.
Another day, another downbeat survey. The British Chamber of Commerce's comprehensive and long-running Quarterly Economic Survey was published yesterday, and it added to evidence of a Q1 slowdown.
External demand for the Eurozone's largest economy is going from strength to strength. Seasonally adjusted German exports rose 3.4% month-to-month in December, equivalent to a solid 7.5% increase year-over-year.The revised indices show that the annualised surplus rose to an all-time high of €218B, or 7% of GDP, last year, indicating that the level of external savings remains a solid support for the economy.
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.
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.
Ian Shepherdson, Pantheon Macroeconomics chief economist, discusses the economic impact of falling oil prices with Bloomberg's Joe Weisenthal and Scarlet Fu
November's inflation data in Mexico, showing a modest increase in the headline rate, have strengthened the case for further monetary tightening. But we stick to our long-standing view that the Board will leave rates at 7.0% on Thursday.
It's hard to know what will stop the correction in the stock market, but we're pretty sure that robust economic data--growth, prices and/or wages--over the next few weeks would make things worse.
Yesterday's economic data in Brazil suggest that retailers suffered in the second quarter, hit by the effect of the truckers' strike, but private consumption remains somewhat resilient.
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.
Population ageing is, arguably, the most important long-term socioeconomic trend in the Eurozone. The demographic transition did not end in the 1970s as fertility hit replacement levels, contrary to the prediction by the stylised models of population change.
The Bank kept interest rates unchanged at 1.50% yesterday, but downgraded its inflation forecast for 2018 to 1.6% from 1.7%
The imposition of 10% tariffs on $200B-worth of Chinese imports is not a serious threat either to U.S. economic growth--the tariffs amount to 0.1% of GDP--or inflation.
Treasury yields closed Friday a few basis points higher across the curve than the day before the surprisingly soft March payroll report. A combination of slightly less dovish-than-expected FOMC minutes, a hawkish speech from Richmond president Jeff Lacker, rising oil prices, and robust--albeit second-tier--data last week seem to have done the work.
Data released yesterday in Brazil are consistent with our view that private consumption will continue to drive the recovery over the second half, offsetting the ongoing weakness in private investment.
Back in April 2012, Janet Yellen--then Fed Vice-Chair--spoke in detail about the labor market and monetary policy. The key point of her labor market analysis was that it was impossible to know for sure how much of the increase in unemployment--at the time, the headline rate was 8.2%--was structural, and how much was cyclical.
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.
We doubt that the MPC will provide a strong signal on Thursday that interest rates need to rise again before the summer.
November's money and credit figures showed that households increasingly turned to unsecured debt last year in order to maintain rapid growth in consumption. Unsecured borrowing, excluding student loans, rose by £1.7B in November alone, the most since March 2005. This pushed up the year- over-year growth rate of unsecured borrowing to 10.8%--again, the highest rate since 2005--from 10.6% in October.
The business cycle upturn in the Eurozone likely will remain resilient in the first half of 2017. Friday's money supply data showed that headline M3 growth increased to 5.0% in December, from 4.9% in November.
China is set to ease reserve requirements for banks lending to small businesses. In a statement after the State Council meeting yesterday, Premier Li Keqiang said that commercial banks would receive a cut in their RRR , from 17% currently, based on how much they lend to businesses run by individuals.
This year has been a story of two halves for EZ equities. The MSCI EU ex-UK jumped 11% in the first five months of 2017, but has since struggled to push higher.
Yesterday's data don't significantly change our view that first quarter GDP growth will be reported at only about 1%, but the foreign trade and consumer confidence numbers support our contention that the underlying trend in growth is rather stronger than that.
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.
China's Caixin services PMI picked up further in November to 51.9 from October's 51.2, but the rebound is merely a correction to the overshoot in September, when the headline dropped sharply.
Inventories subtracted 1.3 percentage points from headline GDP growth in the second quarter and were by far the biggest constraint on the economy. This was the fifth straight drag from inventories, but it was more than twice the average hit over the previous year.
It has become pretty clear over the past couple of weeks that Hillary Clinton will be the next president, so it's now worth thinking about how fiscal policy will evolve over the next couple of years.
Samuel Tombs on U.K. Halifax House Price data
The recent slowdown in labour cash earnings growth in Japan halted in September.
The Brazilian central bank cut its benchmark Selic interest rate by 50bp, to 7.0%, on Thursday night and confirmed our view that the end of the easing cycle is not far off.
The latest PMIs suggest that investors have jumped the gun in pricing-in a 50% chance of the MPC raising interest rates again as soon as May.
The delay in the processing of personal income tax refunds this year appears not to have had any adverse impact on retail sales, so far. Indeed, the Redbook chainstore sales survey suggests that sales have accelerated over the past few weeks.
Media reports suggest that the underlying trends in retailing--rising online sales, declining store sales and mall visits--continued unabated over the Thanksgiving weekend.
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.
President Nicolás Maduro has "won' another six-year term, as expected, even as millions of Venezuelans boycotted the election.
People across Europe are growing wary over the failure of governments to foster economic security since the 2008 crisis. Their conclusion increasingly is that the EU is to blame, so their support for EU-sceptic, and even right-wing nationalist, parties has increased accordingly.
The latest iteration of the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model puts second quarter GDP growth at 4.1%. Assuming a modest upward revision to growth in the first quarter -- the data will be released Friday -- that would mean average growth of 2.5% in the first half, in line with our forecast for the year as a whole, and rather better than the 1.6% growth recorded in 2016.
In recent weeks Brazilian central bank officials have reinforced their message that they will continue fighting inflation with "determination and perseverance". CPI inflation is failing to subside, at least at the headline level, where the latest readings are very disappointing, and expectations have remained stubbornly high. And the BRL has fallen 13% year-to-date, posing further inflation threats ahead. All these factors mean that the BCB will increase its main interest rate yet again in July.
The expectations components of both the Michigan and Conference Board measures of consumers' confidence have risen sharply since gasoline prices rolled over.
We would be very surprised if the Fed were to raise rates today. The Yellen Fed is not in the business of shocking markets, and with the fed funds future putting the odds of a hike at just 22%, action today would assuredly come as a shock, with adverse consequences for all dollar assets.
Brazil's domestic economic outlook has not changed much recently.
The MPC must be very disappointed by the impact of its £60B government bond purchase programme. Gilt yields initially fell, but they now have returned to the levels seen shortly before the MPC's August meeting, when the purchases were announced.
Chile's central bank cut the country's main interest rate by 25bp to 3.25% last Thursday. The easing was expected, as the board adopted a dovish bias last month, after keeping a neutral stance for most of 2016. Last week's move, coupled with the tone of the communiqué, suggests that further easing is coming, as growth continues to disappoint and inflation pressures are easing.
Mexico's economy continues to bring good news, despite the tough external environment for all EM economies. According to the economic activity index, a monthly proxy for GDP, growth gained further momentum in Q4. Activity rose 2.7% year-over-year in November, supported by stronger services activities, which expanded 0.3% month-to-month. The services sector has been the main driver of the current cycle, growing 3.8% year-over-year in November, bolstering our optimism about the domestic economy in the near-term.
Korean real GDP growth rebounded to 1.4% quarter-on-quarter in Q3, from 0.6% in Q2. The main driver was exports, with government consumption also popping, and private consumption was a little faster than we were expecting.
Yesterday's consumer confidence report in Germany was soft, in contrast to surging business sentiment data earlier in the week.
Across all the major economic data, perhaps the biggest weather distortions late last year and in the early part of the year were in the retail sales numbers, specifically, the building materials component. Sales rocketed at a 16.5% annualized rate in the first quarter, the biggest gain since the spring of 2014, following a 10.2% increase in the fourth quarter of last year.
A rate hike from the Fed this week would be a gigantic surprise, and Yellen Fed has not, so far, been in the surprise business. It would be more accurate to describe the Fed's modus operandi as one of extreme caution, and raising rates when the fed funds future puts the odds of action at close to zero just does not fit the bill.
Mexican policymakers voted unanimously last Thursday to hike the main rate by 25bp to 7.75%, the highest since early 2009.
The state of the Mexican economy is still favorable, despite the slowdown over the last few quarters. This week, the IGAE economic activity index--a monthly proxy for GDP--rose 2.0% year-over-year in July, a relatively solid pace, but down from 3.2% in June, and 2.6% in the first half. All these data suggest that economic activity failed to gather momentum at the beginning of Q3 after a disappointing first half of the year.
Yesterday's detailed German GDP report raised more questions than it answered. The headline confirmed that growth accelerated to 0.4% quarteron- quarter in Q4, from 0.1% in Q3, leaving the year-over- year rate unchanged at 1.7%.
January's retail sales figures look set to show that growth in consumers' spending remains stuck in low gear.
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.
Yesterday's labour market data delivered a further blow to hopes that consumers' spending will retain enough momentum for the MPC to press ahead and raise interest rates this year. The most striking development is the decline in year-over-year growth in average weekly wages to just 1.9% in December, from 2.9% in November.
In yesterday's Monitor, we argued that if the upside risk in an array of core CPI components crystallised in January, the month-to-month gain would print at 0.3%, for the first time since August. That's exactly what happened, though we couldn't justify it as our base forecast. A combination of rebounding airline fares, apparel prices, new vehicle prices, and education costs conspired to generate a 0.31% gain, lifting the year-over-year rate back to the 2.3% cycle high, first reached in February last year.
Consumers' spending has staged an impressive recovery in the Eurozone, and remains the key driver of accelerating GDP growth. Outside Germany, however, households have struggled, and are still faced with tight credit conditions.
Eurozone inflation continued its slow rebound last month. Final CPI data showed that inflation rose marginally to 0.2% in November from 0.1% in October, a bit higher than the initial estimate of 0.1%. The upward revision was due to marginally higher services inflation at 1.2%, compared to the initial 1.1% estimate. Non-energy goods inflation eased slightly to 0.5% from 0.6% last month. We have received push-back on our call for higher inflation next year, but core inflation is a lagging indicator, and it can rise independently of the story told by GDP or survey data. Core inflation tends to peak during recessions, and only starts falling later as prices are adjusted downwards, with a lag, to the cyclical downturn.
Yesterday's data on EZ car sales added to the evidence that consumers' spending is slowing. We now reckon sales will rise by 1% quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter, after gains averaging 2.6% in the first half of the year.
Chinese monetary policymakers can rely on several different instruments to affect market and broad liquidity, ranging from various forms of open market operations to interest rates to FX intervention. The tool kit is constantly changing as the PBoC refines its operations.
On the face of it, recent retail spending surveys have been puzzlingly weak in light of the pick-up in employment growth, still-robust real wage gains and renewed momentum in the housing market. We think those surveys are a genuine signal that retail sales growth is slowing, and expect today's official figures to surprise to the downside. But retail sales account for just one-third of household spending, and, in contrast to the early stages of the economic recovery, consumers now are prioritising spending on services rather than goods.
The softness of the headline September retail sales numbers hid a decent 0.5% increase in the "control" measure, which is the best guide to consumers' spending on non-durable goods.
Brazil's Vice-President, Michel Temer, has taken over as interim president, following the approval of the impeachment motion against President Dilma Rousseff, accused of using creative accounting to hide large budget deficits. The impeachment motion suspends Ms. Rousseff for now; she will be removed from office permanently if a two-thirds majority finds her guilty.
Whichever way you choose to slice the numbers, retail sales growth has slowed this year. Ex-gasoline, ex-autos, core, whatever, sales growth in year-over-year terms is notably weaker now than at the end of last year. It is equally, true, however, that after-tax incomes have risen at a robust pace--up 3.8% in the year to May, exactly the same pace as in the year to May 2014--so consumers in aggregate have plenty of cash to spend. So, what's holding people back at the mall? Why aren't they spending more?
Yesterday's data were second-tier in the eyes of the markets, but not, perhaps in the eyes of the Fed. The continued surge in job openings, which reached a 14-year high in December, means that the Beveridge Curve--which links the number of job openings to the unemployment rate--shows no signs at all of returning to normal.
August's consumer price figures, released today, likely will show that households' spending power is being increasingly eroded by rising inflation. We think CPI inflation picked up to 0.8%, from 0.6% in July, exceeding the consensus, 0.7%, for the third consecutive month.
Peru's central bank, the BCRP, admitted defeat again in the face of the inflationary effects of the PEN's depreciation and El Niño, increasing interest rates by 25bp to 3.75% last Thursday, following its 25bp increase in September. Peru is the third LatAm economy in the last few months to raise rates in response to currency weakness, despite sluggish economic growth. The key problem for Peru is that inflation has been trending higher since early 2013 and has remained stubbornly high, above 2.8% all this year. "Temporary" factors just keep on coming.
Households remain the key driver of the cyclical recovery in the Eurozone. We have seen, so far, little sign that investment will be able convincingly to take over the baton if momentum in consumers' spending slows. The average rate of growth of investment since 2013 has been 0.5%, about two-thirds of the pace seen in previous cyclical upturns. Weakness in construction--about 50% of total euro area investment--has been one of the key factors behind of the under performance.
Retail sales account for some 30% of GDP--more than all business investment and government spending combined--so the monthly numbers directly capture more of the economy than any other indicator. Translating the monthly sales numbers into real GDP growth is not straightforward, though, because the sales numbers are nominal. Sales have been hugely depressed over the past year by the plunging price of gasoline and, to a lesser extent, declines in prices of imported consumer goods.
Mexican manufacturing data continue to offer a counterweight to strong consumers' spending and services numbers. Output in the key manufacturing sector contracted by 0.2% month-to-month in September, due mainly to severe external headwinds. But the year-over-year rate was unchanged at 3.3%, with a flat underlying trend. Total industrial output, by contrast, rose 0.4% month-to-month in September, pushing the year-over-year rate up to 1.7%, from an upwardly-revised 1.1% gain in August.
Upbeat survey data and relatively resilient consumer spending numbers indicate that the Mexican economy is in good shape, despite a marginal slowdown in most of Q2.
The Chancellor kept his word and made only trivial policy changes in the Spring Statement, but he hinted at higher spending plans in the Autumn Budget.
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."
January's consumer price data, released tomorrow, look set to reveal a third consecutive rise in CPI inflation, dampening speculation that the U.K. is stuck in a deflationary funk. Indeed, we think CPI inflation picked up to 0.4%, from 0.2% in December, above the consensus, 0.3%.
Brazil's consumer spending data yesterday appeared downbeat. Retail sales fell 2.1% month-to-month in December, pushing the year-over-year rate down to 4.9%, from -3.8% in November. This is a poor looking headline, but volatility is normal in these data at this time of the year, and the underlying trend is improving.
Chile's central bank left rates unchanged on Tuesday for the fourth consecutive month, as recent data confirmed the sluggish pace of the economic recovery and inflation edges down closer to the target range. In the statement accompanying the decision, the BCCh kept its tightening bias, saying that the normalisation of monetary policy needs to continue at a data-dependent pace, in order to achieve its 3% target.
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.
Peru's central bank, the BCRP, capitulated to the sharp PEN depreciation this year--and acceleration of inflation--and unexpectedly increased interest rates by 25bp to 3.50% last Thursday, for the first time since January. This was a brave step, showing that policymakers are extremely worried about the pace of inflation, despite activity still running below potential. The BCRP argues, though, that activity will accelerate during the coming quarters, so they need now to control inflation by anchoring expectations.
The FTSE 100 fell further yesterday, briefly to levels not seen since November 2012, but its drop over recent months is not a convincing signal of impending economic disaster. The economic recovery is likely to slow further, but this will reflect the building fiscal squeeze and the sterling-related export hit much more than the wobble in market sentiment.
Car sales continue to offer solid support for consumption spending in the Eurozone. Growth of new car registrations in the euro area fell trivially to 10.6% year-over-year in September, from 10.8% in August, consistent with a stable trend. Surging sales in the periphery are the key driver of the impressive performance, with new registrations rising 22.1% and 17.1% in Spain and Italy respectively, and surging 30% in Portugal. Favorable base effects mean that rapid growth rates will continue in Q4, supporting consumers' spending.
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.
Fed Chair Yellen speaks to the Economics Club of Washington, D.C., at 12.25 Eastern today, a day before she appears before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress at 10.00 Eastern. These will be her last public utterances before the FOMC meeting on December 16. Dr. Yellen won't say anything which could be interpreted as seeking to front-run the outcome of the meeting; that's not her style. But we expect her clearly to repeat that the Fed's decision will depend on whether progress has been made since October towards the Fed's twin objectives of maximum employment and 2% inflation.
Retail sales fell back to earth in September, indicating that the pick-up in spending over the summer largely was a weather-related blip.
The recession in Brazilian consumers' spending continues, but the severity of the pain is easing. Retail sales plunged 0.9% month-to-month in March, pushing the year-over-rate down to -5.7%, from a revised -4.2% in February. The March headline likely was depressed by the early Easter.
A sharp increase in unsecured borrowing has played a big role in supporting consumers' spending over the past year. The stock of unsecured credit, excluding student loans, increased by 8.2% year-over-year in September--the fastest growth since February 2006--boosting the funds available for households to spend by around 1%.
Markets weren't impressed by the sub-consensus consumption numbers for April, reported yesterday, but the undershoot was all in the we ather-related utility component, where spending plunged 5.1% month-to-month. The process of post-winter mean reversion is now complete.
August's money and credit figures show that households' incomes remain under pressure, indicating that the recent pick-up in growth in consumers' spending likely won't last.
Markets have responded strongly to the ECB's announcement that it will be buying corporate bonds as part of QE. Net corporate debt issuance of non-financial firms jumped €16B in March, the biggest monthly increase since January 2014. The 12-month average, however, was stable at €3.6B, and a sustained increase in net debt supply partly depends on firms' appetite for financial engineering
April's consensus-beating retail sales figures fostered an impression that the recovery in consumer spending is in fine fettle, even though the rest of the economy is suffering from Brexit blues. Retailers have stimulated demand, however, by slashing prices at an unsustainable rate. With import prices and labour costs now rising, retailers are set to increase prices, sapping the momentum in sales volumes.
The global economy is heading towards a new scenario, triggered by the impending start of the monetary policy normalization process in the U.S. In some major economies, notably the Eurozone, the Fed's actions will not derail or even jeopardize the cyclical economic upturn.
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.
Gasoline prices dropped sharply last month, but the 4½% seasonally adjusted fall we expect to see in the December CPI report today was rather smaller than the 9% collapse in December 2014, so the year-over-year rate of change of gas prices will rise, to -20% from -24% in November. This means headline inflation will rise too, though the extent of the increase also depends on what happens to the core rate.
April's retail sales figures, released today, likely will show only a partial reversal of the sharp 1.3% month-to-month fall in sales volumes in March. This would reinforce the impression that the recovery in consumer spending has been becalmed by slower job growth, the intensification of the fiscal squeeze and heightened uncertainty about the economic and political outlook.
Following a challenging start to this year, Andean economic prospects are improving gradually, thanks to falling interest rates, lower inflation, relatively stable currencies and--in some cases--increased infrastructure spending.
Consumer confidence surveys have risen since the elections to levels consistent with very rapid growth in real spending.
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.
Colombia's economic activity surprised to the upside in February, despite the challenging domestic environment. Private spending rose more than expected, but leading indicators suggest that household consumption will remain weak in Q2. Retail sales jumped 4.6% year-over-year in February, up from a 2.1% increase in January, and the fastest pace since August 2015.
In the wake of the September retail sales report, we can be pretty sure that real consumers' spending rose at a 2¾% annualized rate in the third quarter, slowing from the unsustainable 4.3% jump. That would mean consumption contributed 1.9 percentage points to headline GDP growth.
The FTSE 100 has fallen by 4% over the last two weeks, exceeding the 1-to-3% declines in the main US, European and Japanese markets. The FTSE's latest drop builds on an underperformance which began in early 2014. The index has fallen by 10% since then--compared to rises of between 10% and 20% in the main overseas benchmarks--and has dropped by nearly 15% since its April 2015 peak. We doubt, however, that the collapse in U.K. equity prices signals impending economic misery. The economy is likely to struggle next year, but this will have little to do with the stock market's travails.
The stubbornly slow rate of decline of public borrowing casts doubt on whether the Chancellor will run a budget surplus before the end of this parliament, as his fiscal rule stipulates. But downward revisions to debt interest forecasts by the Office for Budget Responsibility are likely to absolve him again from intensifying the impending fiscal squeeze in the Budget on March 16.
Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday might mark the beginning of a new era for both the U.S. and the global economy. For commodity-producing Latam countries, such as Chile, Peru and Colombia, attention will shift to Trump's proposed tax reforms, pro-business agenda and planning infrastructure spending. Mexico, on the other hand, will be grappling with Mr. Trump's trade and immigration policies.
The Portuguese economy has faltered recently. In the year to Q2, real GDP rose only 0.8%, down from a 1.5% increase in the preceding year. Slowing growth in investment has been the key driver, but consumers' spending has weakened too.
It would be a serious mistake to conclude from July's retail sales figures that consumers' spending will be immune to the fallout of the Brexit vote. Households have yet to endure the hiring freeze and pay squeeze indicated by surveys of employers, or the price surge signalled by sterling's sharp depreciation. The real test for consumers' spending lies ahead.
Fed Chair Yellen's Testimony yesterday pretended the election hadn't happened, and ignored the incoming administration's plans for a huge fiscal stimulus. She did address the issue under questioning, though, pointing out that fiscal stimulus could have inflationary consequences and that the Fed will have to factor-in to its decisions whatever Congress decides to do to taxes and spending.
Colombia was the fastest growing economy in LatAm last year but it faces major challenges. The collapse of oil prices--which account for about half of exports--the COP depreciation, rising inflation and Fed's impending monetary policy normalization, are dragging down economic activity and damaging confidence.
With plenty of evidence emerging that consumer spending and business investment are set to suffer from a collapse in confidence, attention is turning to whether other sectors of the economy are ready to step up and support growth. But the fruits from reduced fiscal contraction and stronger net trade will be small and will take a long time to emerge.
Some of the recent labor market data appear contradictory. For example, the official JOLTS measure of the number of job openings has spiked to an all-time high, and the number of openings is now greater than the number of unemployed people, for the first time since the data series begins, in 2001.
It's unrealistic to have a repeat of the second quarter's 4.2% leap in consumers' spending as your base case for the third quarter. It's not impossible, though, given the potential for the saving rate to continue to decline, and the apparently favorable base effect from the second quarter.
Brazil's GDP rose by 0.1% quarter-on-quarter in the third quarter, according to the report published last Friday. The slight growth was driven by investment and government spending, both growing 1.3%, while private consumption fell 0.3%, the biggest drop since late 2008.
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.
On Tuesday, Brazil's Special Committee presented its recommendation for a constitutional amendment capping spending. Currently it is being voted in the Lower House Committee.
Even though Greece managed to avert default yesterday by paying €200M in interest to the IMF, our assumption is that the country remains on the brink of running out of money. Our view is supported by the government's decision to expropriate local authority funds, and reports that the government's domestic liabilities, excluding wages and pensions, are not being met.
The first major data release of 2016 showed manufacturing activity slipping a bit further at the end of last year, but we doubt the underlying trend in the ISM manufacturing index will decline much more. Anything can happen in any given month, especially in data where the seasonal adjustments are so wayward, but the key new orders and production indexes both rose in January; almost all the decline in the headline index was due to a drop in the lagging employment index.
Final Italian Q4 GDP data on Friday confirmed that the economy stumbled at the year-end. Real GDP rose 0.1% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, slowing from 0.2% in Q3, in line with the initial es timate. But the details were better than the headline. Inventories shaved off a hefty 0.4 percentage points, reversing boosts in Q3 and Q2, so final demand rose a robust 0.5%. Consumption added 0.2pp, while public spending contributed 0.1pp.
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.
The first look at real consumers' spending for the second quarter will be discouraging, at least at the headline level. We expect to see a 0.1% month-to-month decline in real consumers' spending in April, below the +0.1% consensus.
We have questioned the reliability of the recent consumer confidence numbers, and are very skeptical of their signal that spending is set to accelerate rapidly, but we see no real sign yet of any significant reversal of the post-election spike.
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.
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.
In the absence of an unexpected surge in auto sales or a sudden burst of unseasonably cold weather, lifting spending on utilities, fourth quarter consumption is going to struggle to rise much more quickly than the 2.1% annualized third quarter increase.
Strong fundamentals have supported private consumption in Mexico recently, but we now expect a slowdown. Spending will not collapse, though, because consumer credit growth, formal employment, real wage income and remittances will continue to underpin consumption for the next three-to-six months.
...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?
While we were out, Brazil's economic, fiscal and political position continued to deteriorate further. The recession deepened in the fourth quarter, with Brazil's economic activity index surprising yet again to the downside in October, falling for the eight consecutive month. The index fell 0.6% month-to-month and 6.4% year-over-year, the biggest contraction since the index began in 2004. And the prospects for first quarter consumption and industrial output have deteriorated substantially. Unemployment increased further in November, and inflation continues to rise, with the mid-month CPI--the IPCA-15 index-- increasing 1.2% month-to-month in November, after a 0.9% increase in October.
Brexit and fiscal headwinds have lessended...but consumers' spending will struggle in 2018
Dutch Pro-EU Centrists Carry The Day...But We Can't Assume The Same Will Happen In France
A closely watched indicator of the German economy has come in weaker than analysts had anticipated, dampening hopes for the country's revival
The Federal Reserve kept its options open on Wednesday, signaling that it would not raise short-term interest rates any earlier than June, while leaving unresolved how much longer it might be willing to wait before lifting its benchmark rate from near zero, where the central bank has held it for more than six years
This week economic data highlighted the severity of Brazil's economic recession and the huge challenges it will face next year to return to growth. The recession further deepened in the third quarter with the economic activity index--a monthly proxy for GDP--surprising, once again, to the downside in September. The index fell 0.5% month-to-month, pushing the year-over-year rate down to 6.2%, the steepest fall on record. The series is very volatile on a monthly basis, but the underlying trend remains grim.
The rapid hiring that made 2014 a stellar year for job gains is showing no sign of slowing down.
More Public Spending and Higher Rates in 2017...Whoever Wins
Markets reacted strongly to yesterday's consensus-beating data, with the ISM manufacturing survey drawing most of the attention as the industrial recession thesis took another body blow. But we are more interested in the strong construction spending data for January, which set the first quarter off on a very strong note.
Inflation data in the Eurozone came in broadly as we expected. Weakness in food and energy prices dampened the headline, but core inflation rose. Inflation was unchanged at 0.2% year-over-year in July, with core inflation rising to 1.0% year-over-year, a 15-month high, up from 0.8% in June.
The upward revisions to real consumers' spending in the fourth quarter, coupled with the likelihood of a hefty rebound in spending on utility energy services, means first quarter spending ought to rise at a faster pace than the 2.2% fourth quarter gain. Spending on utilities was hugely depressed in November and December by the extended spell of much warmer-than-usual weather.
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.
Mexico's economy lost some momentum in Q4, due mainly to weakness in industrial and agricultural activity, but this was partly offset by the strength of the services sector as consumers' spending again carried the economic recovery. Real GDP rose 0.6% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, after a 0.8% expansion in Q3, the tenth consecutive increase. Year-over-year growth dipped marginally to 2.5% from 2.6% in Q3, but the underlying trend remains stable. In 2015 as a whole the economy expanded by 2.5%, up from 2.3% in 2014.
Mexico's underlying inflation pressures and financial conditions are gradually stabilizing. Eventually, this will open the door for rate cuts in order to ease the stress on the domestic economy, particularly capex.
For some time now, we have puzzled over the softness of small firms' capital spending intentions, as measured by the monthly NFIB survey.
In recent weeks LatAm's currencies and stock markets, together with key commodity prices, have risen as financial markets' expectations for a rate increase by the Fed this year have faded. The COP has risen 8.5% over the last month, the MXN is up 2.5%, the CLP has climbed 1.4% and the PEN has been practically stable against the USD. The minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest meeting added strength to this market's view, showing that policymakers postponed an interest rate hike as they worried about a global slowdown, particularly China, the strong USD and the impact of the drop in stock prices.
Next week is a big one for China. The five yearly Party Congress opens on Wednesday, and on Thursday, the monthly raft of activity data is published, along with Q3 GDP.
LatAm economies this year have faced a tough external environment of subdued commodity prices, weaker Chinese growth, the rising USD, and the impending Fed lift-off. At the domestic level, lower public spending, low confidence, and economic policy reform have clashed with above-target inflation, which has prevented central bankers from loosening monetary policy in order to mitigate the external and domestic headwinds. In these challenging circumstances, LatAm growth generally continues to disappoint, though performance is mixed.
To the extent that markets bother with the NFIB survey at all, most of the attention falls on the labor market numbers. But these data--hiring, compensation, jobs hard-to-fill--haven't changed much in recent months, and in any event most of them are released the week before the main survey, which appeared yesterday. The message from the labor data is unambiguous: Hiring remains very strong, employers are finding it very difficult to fill open positions, and compensation costs are accelerating.
Sooner or later, the surge in consumers' spending power triggered by the drop in gas prices and the acceleration in payrolls will appear in the retail sales data.
The Board of the Bank of Korea will meet again in less than a week's time for this year's penultimate meeting.
Yesterday's labour market data showed that growth in households' income has slowed significantly in recent months. Firms are both hiring cautiously and restraining wage increases, due to heightened uncertainty about the economic outlook and rising raw material and non-wage labour costs. Consumers' spending, therefore, will support GDP growth to a far smaller extent this year than last.
The leading wage indicators in the December NFIB survey, released in full yesterday--some of the labor market components appears a few days in advance, ahead of the official payroll report--all point to a substantial acceleration over the next six-to-nine months. Our first two charts show the NFIB jobs-hard-to-fill number and expected compensation numbers, respectively, compared to the rate of growth of hourly earnings. The message is extremely clear.
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.
GDP data today will probably show that the Eurozone economy accelerated to 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, up from 0.2% a quarter earlier. Industrial production came in disappointingly at 0.0% month-to-month in December, but this is not enough to change our forecast in the light of solid data on household spending.
Retail sales have consistently disappointed markets this year, but investors' concerns are misplaced. The rate of growth of core sales has slowed because the strength of the dollar has pushed down the prices of an array of imported consumer goods, and people appear to have spent a substantial proportion of the saving on services.
Whatever happened to consumers' sentiment in March, the level of University of Michigan's index will be very high, relative to its long-term average.
Consumers' spending in the second quarter is still set to be less than great, thanks in part to unfavorable base effects from the first quarter, but a respectable showing of about 2¾% now seems likely. The core May retail sales numbers were a bit stronger than we expected, with gains in most sectors, and the upward revisions to April and March were substantial.
As far as we can tell, most forecasters expect the impact of fiscal stimulus this year to be gradual, with perhaps most of the boost to growth coming next year. At this point, with no concrete proposals either from the new administration or Congress, anything can happen, and we can't rule out the idea of a slow roll-out of tax cuts and spending increases.
With just over six weeks to go, opinion polls continue to suggest that the E.U. referendum will be extremely close. Noisy interventions in the public debate from the Treasury, independent international bodies, President Obama, and from the Prime Minister again today have had no discernible positive impact on the support for "Bremain" relative to "Brexit"
The U.K.'s dependence on large inflows of external finance was laid alarmingly b are last week, when "hard" Brexit talk by politicians caused overseas investors to give sterling assets a wide berth. Investors now are demanding extra compensation for holding U.K. assets, because the medium-term outlook is so uncertain.
April's Retail Sales Monitor from the British Chambers of Commerce, released yesterday, provided a powerful signal that households' spending rebounded in April, following a terrible Q1.
The key labor market numbers from today's February NFIB report on small businesses--hiring intentions and the proportion of firms with unfilled job openings--were released last week, as usual, ahead of the official jobs report.
Brazil's central bank has ignored, so far, the severe economic downturn and has continued its aggressive monetary tightening in order to regain credibility and curb stubbornly high inflation. In contrast, Mexico's central bank is in an enviable position, with inflation below target and under control. Its monetary policy is mainly dependent on the Fed's rate normalization.
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.
Retail sales ex-autos have undershot consensus forecasts in eight of the 11 reports released so far this year, prompting interest rate doves to argue that consumers have not spent their windfall from falling gas prices. But this ignores the impact of falling prices--for gasoline, electronics, furniture, and clothing--on the sales numbers, which are presented in nominal terms.
The downturn in equity prices deepened yesterday, with the FTSE 100 index closing at 5,537, 22% below its April 2015 peak. We remain unconvinced, however, that financial market turmoil is set to push the U.K. economy into a recession. We continue to take comfort from the weakness of the past relationship between equity prices and economic activity.
Today's Q4 GDP report in the Eurozone likely will show that growth slowed again at the end of last year. We think GDP growth dipped to 0.2% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, down from 0.3% in Q3, and risks to our forecast are firmly tilted to the downside. The initial release does not contain details, but we think a slowdown in consumers' spending and a drag from net exports were the main drivers of the softening.
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.
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 consumer recession finally eased in November. Retail sales jumped 2.0% month-to- month, following an upwardly-revised 0.3% drop in October, and the year-over-year rate rose to -3.5% from -8.1%. November's astonishing performance probably reflects seasonal adjustment problems related to Black Friday discounting. Sales have climbed in the last four Novembers, suggesting that consumers' pre-Christmas spending patterns have shifted permanently.
The draft Eurogroup document circulated Sunday evening indicates that European leaders seemingly are willing to offer Greece a new bailout. But it is conditional on passing required legislation reforming pensions and taxes on Wednesday. A "time-out" from the Eurozone, was discussed as a bizarre alternative, but this would be the equivalent of Grexit and default.
Dire warnings that the plunge in s tock prices would depress consumers' confidence and spending have not come to pass. It's too soon to draw a definitive conclusion--the S&P hit its low as recently as the 11th--but peoples' end-February brokerage statements are on track to look less horrific than the end-January numbers, provided the market doesn't swoon again over the next few days.
In the wake of April's 0.2% increase in real consumers' spending, and the upward revisions to the first quarter numbers, we now think that second quarter spending is on course to rise at an annualized rate of about 3.5%.
In yesterday's Monitor we suggested that China's profits surge has been party dependent on developers' risky debt issuance practices.
Brazil's recession has deepened. Overall, the economy has sunk into its worst slump in six years, and the recovery will be painful and slow. This is not surprising, but the sharper than expected 3% contraction over the first half of the year may have thrown a further bucket of cold water on President Rousseff, whose popularity ratings have fallen to a level not seen since 1992, when President Collor de Mello was forced out of office after being impeached for corruption. Real GDP in Brazil fell 1.9% quarter-on-quarter in Q2, much worse than the downwardly revised 0.7% contraction in Q1.
Inflation pressures in the Eurozone probably firmed slightly in August. Data yesterday showed that inflation in Germany and Spain rose by 0.1 percentage points to 1.8% and 1.6% year-over-year respectively, and we are also pencilling-in an increase in French inflation today, ahead of the aggregate EZ report.
Today's data in the Eurozone will provide the first glimpse of what happened in Q4. We think Eurostat's advance estimate will show that EZ real GDP rose 0.6% quarter-on-quarter, down slightly from an upwardly-revised 0.7% in Q3.
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.
The Tankan survey powered ahead in Q2, pulling away from Q1 and mostly beating consensus. This confirms our impression of the strength of the recovery ,just as Prime Minister Abe's Liberal Democratic Party is trounced at the polls in Tokyo. The drubbing is understandable as the main benefits of Abenomics have gone to the business sector, at the expense of the household sector.
Mean-reversion is a wonderful thing; it's what gives the ADP employment report the wholly unjustified appearance of being a useful leading indicator of payroll growth. Over time, the best single forecast of payroll gains or losses in any particular month is whatever happened last month.
Fed Chair Yellen yesterday reinforced the impression that the bar to Fed action in December, in terms of the next couple of employment reports, is now quite low: "If we were to move, say in December, it would be based on an expectation, which I believe is justified, [our italics] that with an improving labor market and transitory factors fading, that inflation will move up to 2%." The economy is now "performing well... Domestic spending has been growing at a solid pace" making a December hike a "live possibility." New York Fed president Bill Dudley, speaking later, said he "fully" agrees with Dr. Yellen's position, but "let's see what the data show."
It is possible that the broad-based softness of September payrolls captures a knee-jerk reaction on the part of employers, choosing to wait-and-see what happens to demand in the wake of stock market correction. But that can't be the explanation for the mere 136K August gain, because the survey was conducted before the market rolled over. Even harder to explain is the hefty downward revision to August payrolls, after years of upward revisions. All is not yet lost for August--the last time the first revision to the month was downwards, -3K in 2010, the second revision was +56K--but we aren't wildly optimistic.
Mr Abe's Liberal Democratic Party took a drubbing at the polls in Tokyo's Assembly election over the weekend. The consequences for fiscal spending probably are minimal but the vote strengthens the case for increased emphasis on the structural reform "arrow" and less focus on monetary policy.
The forecasts compiled by Bloomberg for today's June German factory orders data look too timid to us. The consensus is pencilling in a 0.5% month-to month rise, which would push the year-over-year rate down to -2.1%, from zero in May. But survey data point to an increase in year-over-year growth, which would require a large month-to-month rise due to base effects from last year.
Sterling's depreciation has done little to remedy the U.K.'s dependence on external finance.
Chile's economy is showing the first reliable signs of improvement, at last. December retail sales rose 1.9% year-over-year, up from 0.4% in November, indicating that household expenditure is starting to revive, in line with a pick-up in consumer confidence and the improving labor market.
In the wake of the robust July data and the upward revisions to June, real personal consumption--which accounts for 69% of GDP--appears set to rise by at least 3% in the third quarter, and 3.5% is within reach. To reach 4%, though, spending would have to rise by 0.3% in both August and September, and that will be a real struggle given July's already-elevated auto sales and, especially, overstretched spending on utility energy.
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.
The Eurozone is on the brink of its first exit this week after the ECB refused to offer incremental emergency liquidity to Greek banks, forcing the start of bank holiday through July 7--two days after next weekend's referendum--and beginning today. We have no doubt that if the banks were to open, they would soon be bust; bank runs have a habit of accelerating beyond the point of no return very quickly.
The two-year budget deal agreed between the administration and the Republican leadership in Congress will avert a federal debt default and appears to constitute a modest near-term easing of fiscal policy. The debt ceiling will not be raised, but the law imposing the limit will be suspended through March 2017, leaving the Treasury free to borrow as much as necessary to cover the deficit. As a result, the presidential election next year will not be fought against a backdrop of fiscal crisis.
Equity prices for companies dependent on the U.K.'s residential property market tumbled yesterday as several companies reported poor results for the first half of 2017. Most companies blamed a decline in housing transactions for falling profits.
Money supply dynamics in the Eurozone continue to signal a solid outlook for the economy. Headline M3 growth eased marginally to 4.9% year-over-year in January, from 5.0% in December; the dip was due to slowing narrow money growth, falling to 8.4% from 8.8% the month before. The details of the M1 data, however, showed that the headline chiefly was hit by slowing growth in deposits by insurance and pension funds.
The Atlanta Fed's GDP Now estimate for second quarter GDP growth will be revised today, in light of the data released over the past few days. We aren't expecting a big change from the June 24 estimate, 2.6%, because most of the recent data don't capture the most volatile components of growth, including inventories and government spending. The key driver of quarterly swings in the government component is state and local construction, but at this point we have data only for April; those numbers were weak.
If we're right with our forecast that real consumers' spending rose by just 0.1% month-to-month in February -- enough only to reverse January's decline -- then it would be reasonable to expect consumption across the first quarter as a whole to climb at a mere 1.2% annualized rate.
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.
Barring some sort of miracle, or substantial upward revision to prior data--it happens--first quarter consumption spending growth is unlikely to reach 3%, despite the robust 0.3% gain reported yesterday for January. Part of the problem is a basis effect.
Last week's national accounts confirmed that the economy lost momentum abruptly in Q1, with net trade and investment failing to offset weaker growth in households' spending.
We are not bothered by either the drop in real December consumption, all of which was due to a weather-induced plunge in utility spending, or the drop in the ISM manufacturing index, which is mostly a story about hopeless seasonal adjustments.
The defeat in the House of Lords of the Government's plans to cut spending on tax credits by £4.4B next year is not a barrier to their implementation. But it has prompted speculation that the Chancellor will reduce the size of the fiscal consolidation planned for next year. The plans may be tweaked in the Autumn Statement on 25 November, but we think the economy will still endure a major fiscal tightening next year.
Colombia's Central Bank is about to face a short-term dilemma. The recent fall in inflation will be interrupted while economic growth, particularly private spending, will struggle to build momentum over the second half.
First, a deep breath: June payrolls, with a margin of error of +/-107K, missed the consensus by 10K. Adding in the -60K revisions and the miss is still statistically insignificant. The story, therefore, is that there is no story. Even relative to our more bullish forecast, the miss was just 37K. Nothing bad happened in June. But we hav e to acknowledge that payroll growth has now undershot the pace implied by the NFIB's hiring intentions number--lagged by five months--in each of the past four months. In June, the survey pointed to a 320K jump in private employment, overshooting the actual print by nearly 100K.
The combination of upbeat survey data and solid consumer spending numbers indicate that the German economy is in good shape. But manufacturing data continue to disappoint; factory orders fell 0.9% month-to-month in February, equivalent to a 1.3% decline year-over-year.
Core inflation--a long lagging indicator in the euro area-- will rise next year, in response to surging consumers' spending. Our first chart shows that services inflation likely will be a key theme in this story. Even allowing for a structural drag on inflation due to high unemployment outside Germany, cyclical risks to services inflation are tilted firmly to the upside.
The soft-looking August payroll number almost certainly will be revised up substantially, as the readings for this month have been in each of the past six years. Runs of remarkably consistent revisions--from 53K to 104K, with a median of 66K--don't happen by chance very often. A far more likely explanation is that the seasonal adjustments are flawed, having failed to keep up with changes in employment patterns since the crash. If the median revision is a good guide to what happens this year, the August number will be pushed up to 240K, in line with our estimate of the underlying trend and much more closely aligned with the message from a host of leading indicators.
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.
EM risk sentiment remains grim as the Trump administration dispenses protectionist trade measures. LatAm's biggest economies, Brazil and Mexico, have been hit the hardest, with their currencies falling 3.3% and 2.2% respectively in the last week, the most in the EM world.
April's production data, released today, look set to indicate that the industrial sector's recession--its third in the last eight years--deepened in the second quarter. We think the consensus expectation that industrial production held steady in April is too upbeat. We look for a 0.3% month-to-month drop.
Mexico's economic outlook has dimmed recently, a point driven home by sentiment data released last week. Still, we think GDP growth will slow only marginally in Q4, to about 11⁄2% year-over-year. Consumers' spending likely will remain strong in the near term, thanks mainly to rising remittances from the U.S., driven by fear of policy changes under the Trump administration.
A core element of our relatively upbeat macro view before the implementation of fiscal stimulus under the new administration is that the ending of the drag from falling capex in the oil sector will have quite wide, positive implications for growth. The recovery in direct oil sector spending is clear enough; it will just track the rising rig count, as usual.
The Monetary Policy Committee continues to assert that it can leave interest rates at rock-bottom levels, even though the unemployment rate has returned to its pre-recession level, because it understates the extent of slack in the labour market. If that hypothesis were correct, however, the relationship between the unemployment rate and wage growth would have weakened. But this clearly has not happened, as our first chart shows.
Political developments are clouding the horizon in Mexico, at least temporarily. Mexico's Finance Minister Luis Videgaray, the mastermind behind President Enrique Peña Nieto's most important economic reforms, resigned on Wednesday. José Antonio Meade, a former finance chief, has been tapped to replace him.
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.
The budget sequestration process, which cut discretionary government spending by a total of $114B in fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2014, was one of the dumbest things Congress has done in recent years.
German GDP growth likely accelerated in the second quarter, following a disappointing 0.3% quarter-on-quarter expansion in Q1. Growth in the manufacturing sector remains modest, and the trend in consumers' spending remains solid. Industrial production was unchanged in May, pushing year-over-year growth to 2.1% from a revised 1.1% in April.
In the years before the crash of 2008, if you wanted to know what was likely to happen to the pace of U.S. economic growth, all you needed to know was what happened to corporate bond yields a year earlier. The correlation between movements in BBB industrial yields--not spreads--and the changes in the rate of GDP growth, lagged by a year, was remarkably strong from 1994 through 2008, as our first chart shows. Roughly, a 50 basis point increase in yields could be expected to reduce the pace of year-over-year GDP growth--the second differential, in other words--by about 1.5 percentage points.
The obvious answer to the question posed in our title is that it's far too early to tell what will happen to first quarter growth. More than half the quarter hasn't even happened yet, and data for January are still extremely patchy, with no official reports on retail sales, industrial production, housing, capex, inventories or international trade yet available. For what it's worth, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model signals growth of 3.4%, though we note that it substantially overstated the first estimate of growth in the fourth quarter.
The 5% year-over-year increase in private new car registrations in January ended a nine-month period of falling sales. January's increase, however, is unlikely to be a bellwether for car sales over the whole year, or for the strength of consumer spending more generally.
Yesterday's detailed EZ GDP report showed that real output rose 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in Q3, the same pace as in Q2. The year-over-over rate rose marginally to 1.7% from 1.6%, trivially higher than the first estimate, 1.6%. The details showed that consumers' spending and public consumption were the key drivers of growth in Q3, offsetting a slowdown in net trade.
The MPC's penchant for providing interest rate guidance reached new heights last week.
Markets have interpreted the Monetary Policy Committee's "Super Thursday" releases as an endorsement of their view that interest rates will remain on hold for another year. We think the Committee's communications were more nuanced and believe the door is still open to an interest rate rise in the second quarter of next year.
At first glance, car sales appear to be staging a strong recovery, mirroring the better news on high street spending in Q2.
Car manufacturers have been at the sharp end o f the slowdown in consumers' spending this year. In response, several brands have launched generous scrappage schemes, giving buyers a big discount when they trade in their old vehicle.
The release of the NFIB survey at 6.00AM eastern time this morning--really, they need a new PR advisor--doubtless will bring a flurry of headlines about rising wage pressures, with the expected compensation index rising by a startling three points to a new post-crash high. But this is not news, nor is the high, stable level of hiring intentions; these key labor market numbers were released last week in the NFIB Jobs Report, which appears the day before the official employment report. The data are simply extracted from the main NFIB survey.
The scars from previous economic crises have not healed fully in the Eurozone, and we think the ECB will extend QE today, by six months to Q3 2017. We expect Mr. Draghi to retain his dovish bias in the opening statement, and to repeat the emphasis on downside risks, due to the weak external environment and political fears.
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.
As recently as late 2008, the share of employee compensation in GDP was slightly higher than the average for the previous 20 years. But it would be wrong to argue, therefore, that the squeeze on labor is a phenomenon only of the past few years. It's certainly true that labor's share dropped precipitously from 2009 through 2011, and has risen only marginally since then.
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.
We are happy to report that the laws of gravity have been temporarily suspended in the German survey data.
Japanese firms hand out a significant portion of labour compensation through bonuses, with the largest lump awarded in December.
The Eurozone has come under the spotlight for its growing external surplus, but domestic households have been doing the heavy lifting for GDP growth in this business cycle. During the last four quarters, consumers' spending has boosted year-over-year GDP growth by an average of 1.0 percentage points, in contrast to a 0.4pp drag from net exports.
In April last year, something odd happened in the FX market.
Punished by the global economic slowdown depressing commodity prices, the Mexican economy is now making a gradual comeback, thanks to the continuing strength of its main trading partner, increasing public expenditure on key infrastructure projects, and accommodative monetary policy.
Inflation in Brazil remained subdued at the start of the second quarter, strengthening the odds for an additional interest rate cut next month, and opening the door for further stimulus in June.
April's retail sales figures, due Thursday, likely will show that spending recovered from snow-induced weakness in March.
Next July, Mexico will hold presidential elections, an event that will gradually take centre stage as the date approaches. The pre-campaign will start on December 14, but the official campaign opening will take place in late March, when the three main candidates will begin to lay out their platforms.
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.
If we are right in our view that the lag between shifts in gasoline prices and the response from consumers is about six months--longer than markets seem to think--then the next few months should see spending surge.
Should you be feeling in the mood to panic over inflation risks--or more positively, benefit from the markets' underpricing of inflation risks--consider the following scenario. First, assume that the uptick in wages reported in October really does mark the start of the long-awaited sustained acceleration promised by a 5% unemployment rate and employers' difficulty in finding people to hire. Second, assume that the rental property market remains extremely tight. Third, assume that the abrupt upturn in medical costs in the October CPI is a harbinger o f things to come. And finally, assume that the Fed hawks are right in their view that the initial increase in interest rates will--to quote the September FOMC minutes--"...spur, rather than restrain economic activity". Under these conditions, what happens to inflation?
October's public finance data provided very little relief for the Chancellor ahead of today's Autumn Statement. One month of good borrowing figures do little to compensate for the poor trend in the first half of the fiscal year.
Sterling rebounded last week and the probability of a Brexit, implied by betting markets, fell from 30% to 20%. The gap between cable and interest rate expectations, which opened up at the start of this year, appears to have closed completely, as our first chart shows. Sterling's rally in April quickly ran out of steam, but the evidence that support for "Bremain" has risen recently is persuasive.
Like just about everyone else, we have struggled in recent years to find a convincing explanation for the persistent sluggishness of growth even as the Fed has cut rates to zero and expanded its balance sheet to a peak of $4.2T. Sure, we can explain the slowdown in growth in 2010, when the post-crash stimulus ended, and the subsequent softening in 2013, when government spending was cut by the sequester.
The monthly new home sales numbers are so volatile that just about anything can happen in any given month.
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.
We have to pinch ourselves when looking at economic data in Spain at the moment. Real GDP rose a dizzying 0.9% quarter-on-quarter in Q1, driven by solid gains of 0.7% and 1.1% in consumer's spending and investment respectively. Retail sales and industrial production data indicate GDP growth remained strong in Q2, even if survey data lost some momentum towards the end of the quarter. We will be looking for signs of further moderation in Q3, but surging private deposit growth indicate the cyclical recovery will continue.
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 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.
The PBoC has let up on its open-market operations after allowing bond yields to move higher again in October.
Usually, we forecast existing home sales from the pending sales index, which captures sales at the point contracts are signed.
Retail sales fell sharply in September, highlighting that consumers still are spending only cautiously amid high economic uncertainty and falling real wages.
The markets' favorite story of the moment, aside from the Fed, seems to be the idea that overstretched corporate finances are an accident waiting to happen. When the crunch comes, the unavoidable hit to the stock market and the corporate bond market will have dire consequences, limiting the Fed's scope to raise rates, regardless of what might be happening in the labor market. We don't buy this. At least, we don't buy the second part of the narrative; we have no problem with the idea the finances of the corporate sector are shaky.
Over the past couple of weeks, the number of applications for new mortgages to finance house purchase have reached their highest level since late 2010, when activity was boosted by the impending expiration of a time-limited tax credit for homebuyers.
Yesterday's ECB meeting provided no immediate relief to nervous investors. The central bank kept its main interest rates unchanged, and maintained the pace of QE purchases at €60B per month. Mr. Draghi compensated for the lack of action, however, by hinting heavily at further easing at its next meeting. The president emphasized that the ECB's policies will be "reviewed and reconsidered" in light of the March update to the staff projections. Mr. Draghi also admitted that inflation has been "weaker than expected" since the last meeting, and that downside risks have increased further. The central bank does not pre-commit, but we think it is a good bet that the ECB will do more in March.
As we reach our Sunday afternoon deadline, no deal has been reached to re-open the federal government.
Whatever today's report tells us about existing home sales in January, the underlying state of housing demand right now is unclear. The sales numbers lag mortgage applications by a few months, as our first chart shows, so they're usually the best place to start if you're pondering the near-term outlook for sales. But the applications data right now are suffering from two separate distortions, one pushing the numbers up and the other pushing them down. Both distortions should fade by the late spring, but in they meantime we'd hesitate to say we have a good idea what's really happening to demand.
A classic indicator of impending recession is the emergence of excessive levels of inventory across the economy. The pace of businesses inventory accumulation typically lags sales growth, so when activity slows, usually in response to higher interest rates, firms are left with unsold goods.
The Chancellor must feel a sense of foreboding before his pre-Autumn Statement meetings with the Office for Budget Responsibility. Even minor revisions to the independent body's economic forecasts could shred into tatters his plans for a budget surplus by the end of the parliament, given the lack of wiggle room in the July Budget borrowing projections. The OBR won't present the Chancellor with disastrous news ahead of next Wednesday's Autumn Statement, but the already slim margin for error he has in meeting his surplus goal likely will be reduced.
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 sharp drop in commodity prices, especially oil prices, has dampened the growth prospects for most countries in Latin America. But the most damage, so far, is in the currencies, which have dropped sharply.
Sharp falls in energy prices have been a boon for consumers, freeing up considerable funds for discretionary purchases. Domestic energy and motor fuel absorbed just 4.7% of consumers' spending in Q2, the lowest proportion for 12 years and well below the 6.7% recorded three years ago.
Another day, another couple of April reports likely to reverse March "weakness", triggered by the early Easter. We look for robust core durable goods and pending home sales reports, with the odds favoring consensus-beating numbers. In both cases, though, the noise-to-signal ratio is quite high, and we can't be certain the Easter seasonal unwind will be the dominant force in the April data.
The BoK kept rates unchanged at 1.50% yesterday. We thought a hike was open to consideration, as the authorities had professed to be on a mission to reduce dependency on exports and household debt. But we remain more bearish than the BoK on the outlook for the rest of the year.
We have argued over the past couple of years that if you want to know what's likely to happen to U.S. manufacturing over the next few months, you should look at China's PMI, rather than the domestic ISM survey, which is beset by huge seasonal adjustment problems.
The high and rising proportion of small businesses reporting difficulty in filling job openings is perhaps the biggest reason to worry that the pace of wage increases could accelerate quickly. If they pick up too far, the Fed's intention to raise rates at a "gradual" pace will be upended. The NFIB survey of small businesses--mostly very small--shows employers are having as much trouble recruiting staff as at the peak of the boom in 2006.
The response of U.K. producers and consumers to lower oil prices could not have been more different to those on the other side of the Atlantic. Counter-intuitively, U.K. oil production has grown strongly over the last year, while investment hasn't collapsed to the same extent as in the U.S., yet. Meanwhile, U.K. households have thrown caution to the wind and already have spent the windfall from the previous drop in oil prices, unlike their more prudent--so far--U.S. counterparts. With the costs still to come but most of the benefits already enjoyed, lower oil prices will be neutral for 2016 U.K. GDP growth, at best.
Detailed GDP data yesterday showed that the domestic German economy fired on all cylinders in the first quarter. Real GDP rose 0.7% quarter-on-quarter in Q1, up from 0.3% in Q4, lifted by strong investment and spending. Domestic demand rose 0.8%, only slightly slower than the 0.9% ris e in the fourth quarter. Net exports fell 0.3%, a bit better than in Q4, when gross exports fell outright.
Last week's GDP figures illustrated that the economy is extremely vulnerable to a slowdown in households' spending. Our chart of the week, on page three, shows that consumers were alone in making a significant positive contribution to GDP growth last year.
The levelling-off in the industrial surveys in recent months is reflected in the consumer sentiment numbers. Anything can happen in any given month, but we'd now be surprised to see sustained further gains in any of the regular monthly surveys.
Recent consumer confidence numbers have been strong enough that we don't need to see any further increase. The expectations components of both the Michigan and Conference Board surveys are consistent with real spending growth of 21⁄2-to- 3%, which is about the best we can expect when real income growth, after tax, is trending at about 21⁄2%.
The first exit poll published at 18.00 CET on Sunday evening points to a landslide victory for Syriza, and the real possibility that the party could form a majority government. Counter-intuitively, the prospects for Syriza here depend upon how the smaller parties do.
The hefty upward revision to Q3 inventories means we have to lower our working assumption for fourth quarter GDP growth, because the year-end inventory rebound we previously expected is now much less likely to happen. Remember, the GDP contribution from inventories is equal to the change in the pace of inventory accumulation between quarters, and we're struggling to see a faster rate of accumulation in Q4 after the hefty revised $90B third quarter gain. Inventory holdings are in line with the trend in place since the recession of 2001; firms don't need to build inventory now at a faster pace.
The landslide victory by anti-austerity party Syriza in Greece this weekend will increase uncertainty in coming months. The coalition between Syriza and the Independent Greeks will prove a tough negotiating partner for the EU as both parties are strongly in favor of pushing the Troika to significant concessions on any future bailout terms this year.
We've seen some alarming estimates of the potential impact on inflation of the House Republicans' plans for corporate tax reform, with some forecasts suggesting the CPI would be pushed up as much as 5%. We think the impact will be much smaller, more like 1-to-11⁄2% at most, and it could be much less, depending on what happens to the dollar. But the timing would be terrible, given the Fed's fears over the inflation risk posed by the tightness of the labor market.
Korean exports are often a useful gauge of Asian and global trade; the country sits near the beginning of the global supply chain. It also happens to publish early in the data cycle and provides a measure of exports in the first 20 days of the month.
Advance Eurozone consumer sentiment fell disappointingly to -7.1 in July, from -5.6 in June, but it is consistent with a solid trend in retail sales growth. Household consumption in the zone has surged in the last four quarters, and a modest loss of momentum in Q3 and Q4 is a reasonable bet. But we see little risk of a sharp slowdown in the shor t run, and the trend in spending growth should stabilize at an annualised 1.5% this year.
In November, existing home sales substantially overshot the pace implied by the pending home sales index.
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 second estimate of Q4 GDP, published on Thursday, probably will show that the economy slowed more abruptly last year than previously thought and that it has become very dependent on consumers for momentum.
Chair Yellen's Testimony sought clearly to tell markets that the Fed has upgraded its view on growth, and the state of the labor market. After reading the first few paragraphs, which focussed clearly on the good news, though peppered with the usual caveats, the door was open for the section on policy to signal unambiguously that the Fed is close to its first tightening.
Mexico's private spending stumbled at the start of the second quarter. Retail sales fell 0.3% month-to-month in April after three consecutive increases, hit by an unexpected 1.6% drop in both supermarket and apparel sales, and a surprising 1.2% fall in food sales. In year-over-year terms, total sales rose 4.6% in April, down from 5.6% in March.
A shutdown of the federal government, which could happen as early as this weekend, is a political event rather than a macroeconomic shock. But if it happens--if Congress cannot agree on even a shortterm stop-gap spending measure in order to keep the lights on after the 28th--it would demonstrate yet again that the splits in the House mean that the prospects of a substantial near-term loosening of fiscal policy are now very slim.
If you want to know what's going to happen to the real economy over, say, the next year, don't look to the stock market for reliable clues. The relationship between swings in stock prices over single quarters and GDP growth over the following year is nonexistent, as our next chart shows.
The two polls suggesting the U.K. would remain in the EU yesterday proved to be a noose for investors to hang themselves with, as the results pointed to a vote for Brexit. Markets already are in disarray, and the direction is as we expected and feared. EUR/GBP is up 7%, and the DAX 30 in Germany is indicated by futures to plunge a hefty 7%-to-8% at the open. Bund yields will collapse too, and all eyes will be on the spread between Germany and the rest of the periphery.
Markets are trading like Emmanuel Macron has already moved into the Élysée Palace. Eurozone equities soared at the open yesterday, lead by the French banks, 10-year yields in France plunged, and the euro jumped. This makes sense given the signal from the polls. They were correct in their prediction of Mr. Macron's victory on Sunday, and they have been consistently forecasting that he will comfortably beat Mrs. Le Pen in the runoff.
In his opening speech at the Party Congress, President Xi received warm applause for his comment that houses are "for living in, not for speculation".
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.
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Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, and Krishna Memani, chief investment officer at OppenheimerFunds, discuss the impact of low inflation on the Federal Reserve's rate path.
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on French Consumer Spending.
Payroll growth rebounded to 223K in May, after two sub-200K readings, and we're expecting today's June ADP report to signal that labor demand remains strong.
Ian Shepherdson comments after FOMC Minutes release yesterday
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Manufacturing
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on ISM Non-Manufacturing
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on the Fed's growth forecast
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson named Market Watch forecaster of the month for July
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. House Prices
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Inflation
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs discussing Q1 GDP Results
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on the U.K. CBI Industrial Trends Survey
Are there any signs that the U.S. tax cuts and/or regulatory relaxation are stimulating increased non-residential fixed investment?
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Price Increases
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on UK Government Borrowing
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs discussing the devaluation of the GBP
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Manufacturing
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Inflation
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on the U.K. Halifax House Price Index in December
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on the U.K Deficit
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson with a guest column in The Hill on U.S. Manufacturing
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on French Business Confidence
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on U.S. Durable Goods Orders
Article by Ian Shepherdson in The Hill
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on Eurozone Growth
Andres Abadia named top Latam FX Forecaster for 2017 by Reuters
With the Mexican Elections on July 1st, our Chief Latam Economist Andres Abadia has received many questions about the possible outcomes and how this will affect the Mexican economy going forward.
Why is the EZ current account surplus rising and net exports falling at the same time?
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on U.S.-China Trade Wars
Senior International Economist Andres Abadia on Chile's economy
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on August Employment data
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on UK Q3 GDP
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Retail Sales in October
Senior International Economist Andres Abadia on mexico
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson discussing Durable Goods Orders in May
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs discussing U.K. GDP
Chief U.K Economist Samuel Tombs on UK Halifax House Prices in July
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson discussing Durable Goods Orders in May
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Manufacturing Output
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Government Borrowing
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on Eurozone growth
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on the ECB
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson speaking about Donald Trump's plans for sweeping tax cuts
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen discussing Italian GDP
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Retail Sales
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. GDP in Q3
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs discussing U.K. New Car Registrations
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. New Car Registrations, July
A look back on Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Toombs' predictions ahead of the U.K. General Election
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on Nationwide's June House Price Index
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on Consumer Price Index, June
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs discussing the effect the general election will have on the pound,
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. growth data
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs ok U.K. Retail Sales
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on Eurozone unemployment
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs discussing U.K. House Prices
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on the latest German consumer figures
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on the Greek return to the market
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Retail Sales
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs the recent increase in Oil
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs discussing the General Election in June
Chief Asia economist Freya Beamish on the weak yuan
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on the U.K. Economy in 2018
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