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Brazilian assets were hit in Q3 by global external challenges, while domestic fundamentals gradually improved.
Brazil's lower house of Congress on Sunday voted to start impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff, who is accused of tampering with the public accounts to help secure her re-election in 2014. Ms. Rousseff's opponents obtained 367 votes, exceeding the two-thirds majority, needed to send the motion to the Senate.
Financial assets of all stripes are, by most metrics, expensive as we head into year-end, but for some markets, valuations matter less than in others. The market for non-financial corporate bonds in the euro area is a case in point.
Freya Beamish, chief Asia economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses how policymakers are responding to the coronavirus crisis.
The ECB and Ms. Lagarde played it safe yesterday.
You could be forgiven for being alarmed at the 1.5% decline in the stock of outstanding bank commercial and industrial lending in the fourth quarter, the first dip since the second quarter of 2017.
The declines in headline housing starts and building permits in June don't matter; both were depressed by declines in the wildly volatile multi-family components.
Mexican inflation pressures eased towards the start of Q2. Inflation fell to 2.5% year-over-year in April from 2.6% in March, due to a sharp fall in energy inflation--as a result of the introduction of new electricity tariffs in the warm season--and a fall in the rate of increase of fresh food prices. Depressed energy prices will continue to constrain inflation in coming months, but base effects will reduce the drag later this year.
China's industrial production growth downtrend worsens. China's retail sales dragged down by autos but boosted as people spend more at home. China's fixed asset investment growth slows despite greater support from infrastructure.
The risk of political change in Venezuela is coming to a boil, following President Maduro's plans for a new constituent assembly that has the power to rewrite the constitution and scrap the existing National Assembly.
LatAm's relatively calm market environment has been thrown into disarray over the last few weeks.New fears of a slowdown in China, political turmoil in the U.S. and, most importantly, the serious corruption allegations facing Brazil's President, Michel Temer, have triggered a modest correction in asset markets and have disrupted the region's near-term policy dynamics.
The limited data available on the state of the labour market, since the government forced businesses to close two weeks ago, paint a disconcerting picture.
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.
After many years in which the phrase "twin deficits" was never mentioned, suddenly it is the explanation of choice for the weakening of the dollar and the sudden increase in real Treasury yields since the turn of the year, shortly after the tax cut bill passed Congress.
Friday's weekly report on the assets and liabilities of U.S. commercial banks will complete the picture or March and, hence, the first quarter. It won't be pretty. With most of the March data already released, a month-to-month decline in lending to commercial and industrial companies of about 0.7% is a done deal. That would be the biggest drop since May 2010, and it would complete a 1% annualized fall for the first quarter, the worst performance since Q3 2010. The year-over-year rate of growth slowed to just 5.0% in Q1, from 8.0% in the fourth quarter and 10.3% in the first quarter of last year.
It's just not possible to forecast the reaction of businesses and consumers to the coronavirus outbreak.
The benchmark MSCI EU ex-UK equity index was down a startling 17% year-over-year at the end of February. A disappointing policy package from the ECB in December initially put Eurozone equities on the back foot, and the awful start to the year for global risk assets has since piled on the misery.
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.
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.
Brazil's recent political and economics news has shifted the near-term outlook from bad to worse. President Rousseff on Friday replaced hawkish Finance Minister Joaquim Levy, appointed just over a year ago, with a close partner, Planning Minister Nelson Barbosa. Mr. Levy resigned after continued conflicts with the government, including frustration by the Congress of his attempts to rein in the fiscal mess. Mr. Barbosa is known to be less market friendly, and will likely defend countercyclical measures, delaying any rapid fiscal consolidation. The appointment will deteriorate investors' confidence even further, placing the markets under enormous strain.
The coronavirus outbreak and its associated movements in asset prices have radically changed the outlook for CPI inflation, which ultimately the MPC is tasked with targeting.
Claims abound that sterling's sharp depreciation since the start of the year--to its lowest level against the dollar since May 2010--partly reflects the growing risk that the U.K. will vote to leave the European Union in the forthcoming referendum. We see little evidence to support this assertion. Sterling's decline to date can be explained by the weakness of the economic data, meaning that scope remains for Brexit fears to push the currency even lower this year.
Here's the bottom line: U.S. businesses appear to have over-reacted to the impact of the trade war in their responses to most surveys, pointing to a serious downturn in economic growth which has not materialized.
LatAm markets reacted well to the U.S. Fed's decision to increase the funds rate by 25bp, to 1-to-1¼%, on Wednesday. Currencies moved only slightly after the decision and asset markets were relatively stable. Yesterday, some currencies retreated marginally as investors digested the relatively hawkish message from the Fed and Chair Yellen's press conference.
Investors will have to keep their wits about them following the close of polls at 22:00 BST on Thursday. Sterling and other asset prices will move sharply when the likely result of the U.K.'s E.U. referendum is discernible, but exactly when that point will come during the night is uncertain.
China's investment slowdown went from worrying to frightening in October. Last week's fixed asset investment ex-rural numbers showed that year- to-date spending grew by 5.2% year-over-year in October, marking a further slowdown from 5.4% in the year to September.
The U.S. Presidential election will set the tone for LatAm's markets this week. Hillary Clinton's dwindling lead over Donald Trump in recent polls has unleashed pressure on EM assets.
The Brazilian presidential election has remained in the spotlight in recent days and is the main driver of asset price volatility.
The establishment of the Fed's commercial paper funding facility, announced yesterday, replicates the first wave of asset purchases undertaken after the crash of 2008.
All seven of Britain's major banks passed the Bank of England's stress test this year, in the first clean sweep since the annual test began in 2014.
Yesterday's ECB meeting left investors with a lot of thinking to do. The central bank kept its key interest rate unchanged, but extended and tweaked its asset purchase program. QE was extended until December 2017, but the monthly pace of purchases will be reduced by €20B per month to €60B starting April next year.
Japan's jobless rate was unchanged, at 2.4% in October, as the market took a breather after September's job losses.
Today's March ADP employment report likely will catch the leading edge of the wave of job losses triggered by the coronavirus.
Mexican asset prices and sentiment have been helped in recent weeks by less-harsh rhetoric from the Trump administration. The headline consumer confidence for February, reported yesterday, rose to 75.7 from 68.5 in January; all the sub-components improved. The data are not seasonally adjusted, so most local analysts look at the data in year-over-year terms.
The monthly survey of small businesses conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business is quite sensitive to short-term movements in the stock market, so we're expecting an increase in the November reading, due today.
Are there any signs of a Chinese recovery yet? Freya Beamish discusses
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff was removed from office on Wednesday, following an impeachment trial triggered by allegations that Ms. Rousseff used "creative" accounting techniques to disguise Brazil's growing budget deficit, ahead of her re-election in 2014. The Senate voted 61-20 to convict Ms. Rousseff; only 54 votes were needed to oust her. For Ms. Rousseff's leftist Workers' Party, her removal marks the end of 13 years in power.
Political turmoil in Brazil continues to undermine President Dilma Rousseff's leverage over the economy. On Friday, the Lower House of Congress voted to start impeachment proceeding against Ms. Rousseff. She has until early April to present her defense against charges that she doctored government accounts and used graft proceeds to fund the 2014 electoral campaign.
EZ investors remain depressed. The headline Sentix confidence index fell to 12.0 in September, from 14.7 in August, and the expectations gauge slid by three points to -8.8.
Pantheon Macroeconomics Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen discusses how the ECB will respond to the missed IMF payment yesterday.
Today's FOMC minutes will add flesh to the bones of the three dissents on September 21. The FOMC statement merely said that each of the three--Loretta Mester, Esther George and Eric Rosengren--preferred to raise rates by a quarter-point.
The sell-off in equity markets and increases in volatility have put EM assets under pressure. EM equities and bonds, however, have been outperforming their U.S. and global market counterparts.
The FOMC flagged recent market developments as a source of risk to the U.S. economy yesterday, unsurprisingly, but didn't go overboard: "The Committee is closely monitoring global economic and financial developments and is assessing their implications for the labor market and inflation, and for the balance of risks to the outlook."
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.
On the face of it, the outperformance of gilts compared to government bonds in other developed countries this year suggests that Brexit would be a boon for the gilt market. In the event of an exit, however, we think that the detrimental impact of higher gilt issuance, rising risk premia and weaker overseas demand would overwhelm the beneficial influence of stronger domestic demand for safe-haven assets, pushing gilt yields higher.
The Chancellor is likely to announce plans for additional public sector asset sales in today's Autumn Statement, to help arrest the unanticipated rise in the debt-to-GDP ratio this year. But privatisations rarely improve the underlying health of the public finances, partly because assets seldom are sold for their full value. And the Chancellor is running out of viable assets to privatise; the low-hanging, juiciest fruits have already been plucked.
Chief Eurozone Economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics Claus Vistesen discusses his views on the path forward for the ECB and Eurozone.
Chief Asia Economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics Freya Beamish discusses her views on the Chinese economy.
What to expect from the ECB as Ms. Lagarde takes the seat as new president?
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on the latest NFIB data
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs discussing U.K. Consumer Confidence
Freya Beamish, Chief Asia economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses the U.S.-China trade deal
Freya Beamish, chief Asia economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses the outlook for China's economy as the World Bank cut its forecast for global growth. The World Bank's report included a downward revision for China to 5.9%, which would be the first sub-6% reading since 1990. Beamish speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance."
Freya Beamish, chief Asia economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses how China's economy can influence a U.S. trade agreement and looks forward to U.S.-European trade talks.
Freya Beamish, Chief Asia Economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses the economic impact of coronavirus on China.
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
Within the space of two months, investors have gone from wondering whether the slowdown in manufacturing would spill-over into the rest of the EZ economy, to the realisation that the crunch in services is now driving the overall story on the economy.
Japan's labour data threw another January curve ball this year--last year it was wages--with a change in the standards for job openings.
While were out over the holidays, the single biggest surprise in the data was yet another drop in imports, reported in the advance trade numbers for November.
China's property market continued to slow in August, with prices rising by just 0.2% month-on- month seasonally adjusted, half the July pace.
We're reasonably happy with the idea that business sentiment is stabilizing, albeit at a low level, but that does not mean that all the downside risk to economic growth is over.
Brazil's central bank again matched expectations on Wednesday, cutting the Selic rate by 100 basis points to 10.25%, without bias. The COPOM s aid that a "moderate reduction of the pace of monetary easing" would be "adequate".
It is a known axiom among EZ economists that the ECB never pre-commits, but yesterday's speech by Mr. Draghi in Sintra--see here--is as close as it gets.
Brazil is back on global investors' radar screens. Financial market metrics capture a relatively robust bullish tone, especially since the presidential election.
It's easy to read the January minutes as the dovish counterpart to a clear hawkish shift in the meeting. The statement, remember, upgraded the growth view to "solid" from "moderate"; it reiterated that the downward inflation shock from energy prices will be "transitory" and it said that the the pace of job growth is now "strong", having previously been "solid".
A big picture approach to the China trade war, from the perspective of Mr. Trump, is reasonably positive. The president very clearly wants to be re-elected, and he knows that his chances are better if the economy and the stock market are in good shape.
Our first impression of the proposed Brexit deal between the EU and the U.K. is that it is sufficiently opaque for both sides to claim that they have stuck to their guns, even if in reality, they have both made concessions.
Growth in EZ car sales slowed further at the beginning of Q4. New registrations in the euro area fell 1.2% year-over-year in October, down from a 7.2% increase in September.
"Disappointing" is probably the word that most EZ equity investors would use to describe their market so far this year.
The labour market was pretty robust before the coronavirus crisis.
Mexico's central bank, Banxico, capitulated in the face of the rapidly depreciating MXN and unexpectedly increased interest rates by 50bp to 3.75% on Wednesday, following an unscheduled meeting the day before. The decision was a unanimous, brave step, showing that policymakers are extremely worried about the FX sell-off, despite growth still running below potential.
Japan's February trade data were a shocker, but not for the reasons we expected, given the signal from the Chinese numbers.
Chinese residential property prices appear to be staging a comeback, with new home prices rising 1.1% month-on-month in June, faster than the 0.8% increase in May.
Data later today will likely show that the Eurozone's external balance remained firm last quarter at a record 2.5% of GDP. We think the seasonally adjusted current account surplus rose to €20.0B in December from €18.1B in November, with positive momentum in the key components continuing.
China's data on Monday were beyond dire, leading to a dramatic downward revision of our already grim Q1 GDP forecasts for the country.
Chancellor Sunak announced further emergency support measures for the economy on Tuesday and pledged to do more soon.
The EZ's current account surplus was stung at the end of Q3, falling to a three-year low of €16.9B in September, from a revised €23.9B in August.
Investor sentiment data still indicate that EZ PMIs are set for a significant rebound at start of the year.
The data tell an increasingly convincing story that the Eurozone's external surplus rose further in the second half of last year.
The EU has had a better start to the Brexit negotiations than its counterpart across the Channel. The risk of disagreement within the EU on the details with of the U.K.'s exit is high, but the Continent has presented a united front so far, mainly because Mr. Macron and Mrs. Merkel agree on the broad objectives. They have no interest in punishing the U.K., but they are also keen to show that exiting the EU has costs for a country which leaves.
The Eurozone's external surplus recovered a bit of ground mid-way through the third quarter.
The Eurozone's external surplus fell further at the end of Q1, and has now fully reversed the jump at the start of the year.
Colombia is one of the few larger economies in Latin America to have enjoyed solid, positive economic growth over the past two years. But lower commodity prices and last year's central bank tightening, to curb high inflation generated by strong growth, have started to become visible in the main economic data.
The Eurozone's current account surplus almost surely fell further in Q4.
German producer price inflation fell last month, following uninterrupted gains since the beginning of this year. Headline PPI inflation fell to 2.8% year-over- year in May, from 3.4% in April, constrained by lower energy inflation, which slipped to 3.0%, from 4.6% in April. Meanwhile, non-energy inflation declined marginally to 2.7%, from 2.8%.
Brazil's central bank looked through the recent dip in the BRL and left interest rates at 6.50% at Wednesday's Copom meeting, in line with the consensus.
The Eurozone's current account surplus remained close to record highs at the end of Q1, despite dipping slightly to €34.1B in March, from a revised €37.8B in February. A further increase in the services surplus was the key story.
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.
China's real GDP growth officially slowed to 6.5% year-over-year in Q3, from 6.7% in Q2.
Yesterday's August PMI data in the euro area ran counter to the otherwise gloomy signals from the ZEW and Sentix investor sentiment indices.
After the strong Philly Fed survey was released last week, we argued that the regional economy likely was outperforming because of its relatively low dependence on exports, making it less vulnerable to the trade war.
The EU Commission and Italy's government remain at loggerheads over the country's fiscal plans next year.
We still don't have the complete picture of what happened to EZ consumers' spending in Q1, but the initial details suggest that growth acceleretated slightly at the start of the year.
Back-to-back elevated weekly jobless claims numbers prove nothing, but they have grabbed our attention.
October's surprise jump in public borrowing is not a material setback for the Chancellor, who will stick to his new Budget plans for modest fiscal stimulus next year.
Just as we turned more positive on the labor market, following three straight months of payroll gains outstripping the message from an array of surveys, the Labor Department's JOLTS report shows that the number of job openings plunged in November.
Once again, Chinese January data released so far suggest that the Phase One trade deal was the dominant factor dictating activity for the first two- thirds of the month, with the virus becoming a real consideration only in the last third.
Construction in the euro area stumbled at the end of last year. Output fell 0.2% month-to-month in December, but the year-over-year rose to 2.4%, from a revised 1.6% in November.
The euro area's current account surplus stumbled at the end of 2017, falling to €29.9B in December from an upwardly-revised €35.0B in November.
Eurozone current account data yesterday provided further evidence of stabilisation in the economy despite a headline deterioration. The adjusted current account surplus fell to €18.1B in November from a revised €19.5B in October, but the decline was mainly driven by an increase in current transfers; the core components remain solid.
One of the most surprising features of the economic recovery has been that households have not responded to the surge in house prices by releasing housing equity to fund consumption. Housing equity rose to 4.2 times annual disposable incomes in 2015, up from 3.7 in 2012. It has more than doubled over the last two decades.
While we were on holiday, the data confirmed that inflation in Mexico is rapidly unwinding the increases posted earlier in the year; that the economy was under severe strain in late Q2 and early Q3; and that the near-term outlook has grown increasingly challenging.
The U.S. reached a trade agreement with Canada on Sunday, adding its northern neighbour to the pact sealed a month ago with Mexico.
The BoJ yesterday published its semi-annual Financial System Report, which often gives insights into the longer-term thinking driving BoJ policy.
Inflation in the Eurozone eased at the start of Q3.
Brace yourselves; GDP growth forecasts are being slashed left and right, as our colleagues take stock of the economic damage Covid-19 likely will inflict in the U.S. and across Europe, where outbreaks and containment measures have escalated significantly.
Economic and financial conditions continue to deteriorate sharply in LatAm.
Manufacturing confidence in France remained resilient in the fourth quarter. The INSEE sentiment index rose to 103 in December from 102 in November, lifted by a jump in firms' own production expectations, and a small increase in the new orders-to-inventory ratio. We think production will increase in Q4, lifted by energy output, but the recent jump in the year-over-year rate is unlikely to be sustained, even if we factor in the marginal increase in new orders this month.
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 advance EZ PMIs will be watched more closely than usual.
The latest balance of payments figures, released Wednesday, look set to show that the current account deficit widened in Q3, underlying the U.K.'s vulnerability to a sudden change in overseas investor sentiment. The risk of a full-blown sterling crisis, however, is lower than the enormous current account deficit would appear to suggest.
The PBoC's reformed one-year Loan Prime Rate was published yesterday at 4.25%, compared with 4.31% on the previous LPR, and below the benchmark lending rate, 4.35%.
Prospects for further rate cuts in Brazil, due to the sluggishness of the economic recovery and low inflation, have played against the BRL in recent weeks.
On the official gauge, China's real GDP growth fell minimally to 6.8% year-on-year in Q3, from 6.9% in Q2. Growth edged down to 1.7% quarter-on-quarter from an upwardly revised 1.8% in Q2.
The Eurozone's external surplus rebounded slightly at the start of Q3.
Brazil's industrial production rose 0.8% month- to-month in August, well above our call, and the consensus, for a trivial increase.
The sovereign debt crisis in the euro area was a macroeconomic horror story
We've been consistent in saying that Japanese capex would roll over this year, after strength in the first three quarters was seen by the authorities and many commentators as a sign of resilience.
China's October activity data showed signs of the infrastructure stimulus machine sputtering into life. Consensus expectations appear to hold out for a continuation into November, but we think the numbers will be disappointing.
The underlying trend in the core CPI is rising by just under 0.2% per month, so that has to be the starting point for our January forecast.
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.
China's money and credit numbers were once again unspectacular in August. M2 growth edged up to 8.2% year-over-year, from 8.1% in July.
It's hard to find anything to dislike in the February employment report.
If the Phase One trade deal with China is completed, and is accompanied by a significant tariff roll-back, we'll revise up our growth forecasts, but we'll probably lower our near-term inflation forecasts, assuming that the tariff reductions are focused on consumer goods.
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.
Quarter-on-quarter GDP growth last year was buffeted by the accumulation, and subsequent depletion, of inventories, around the two Brexit deadlines in March and October.
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 ECB disappointed slightly on the big headlines in yesterday's policy announcements, but it delivered shock and awe with the details
Investors in the euro area have mostly been focused on downside risks this year, and the spectre of Turkey spinning out of control has done little to change that.
The Korean unemployment rate edged back up to 3.7% in November from October's 3.6%. Young graduates--the usual suspects--accounted for most of the rise.
Japan's Ministry of Finance yesterday admitted falsifying documents submitted to the country's parliament during a corruption probe last year.
The NY Fed's announcement yesterday restarts QE. The $60B of bill purchases previously planned for the period from March 13 through April 13 will now consist of $60B purchases "across a range of maturities to roughly match the maturity composition of Treasury securities outstanding".
Official, real GDP growth was low in Q1, at 1.4% quarter-on-quarter, down from 1.6% in Q4.
Mexico's industrial recovery, which began in late Q4, lost momentum at the start of the second quarter.
Yesterday's ECB meeting was a tragedy in two acts. Markets were initially underwhelmed by the concrete measures unveiled, and they were then shell-shocked by Ms. Lagarde's performance in the press conference.
Chancellor Sunak's "temporary, timely and targeted" fiscal response to the Covid-19 outbreak, and the BoE's accompanying stimulus measures, won't prevent GDP from falling over the next couple of months.
China's money and credit data for February were reassuring, at least when compared with the doomsday scenario painted, so far, by other key indicators for last month.
Collapsing oil prices add fresh deflationary pressure on China.
We expect the Budget today to underwhelm investors who are eager to see a quick and powerful government response to the coronavirus outbreak.
China's unadjusted trade surplus collapsed in February, to just $4.1B, from $39.2B in January.
This has been a very complicated week for LatAm policymakers, who are particularly uneasy about the performance of the FX market.
The latest IPCA inflation data in Brazil show the year-over-year rate fell to 8.8% in June from 9.3% in May. This is the slowest pace since May 2015, with inflation pulled lower by declines across all major components, except food. Indeed, food prices were the main driver of the modest 0.4% unadjusted monthto-month increase, rising by 0.7%, following a 0.8% jump in May. The year-over-year rate rose to 12.8% in June from 12.4%.
The rebound in GDP growth in the second quarter seems not to have been enough to prevent year-over-year productivity growth slowing to about zero. The consensus forecast for the first estimate of Q2 productivity growth, due today, is a 1.6% annualized increase, pushing the year-over-year rate down to 0.3% from 0.6% in the first quarter, but we think this is too optimistic.
Manufacturing in France remained on the front foot at the start of Q4.
The 16-page document--see here--detailing the agreement allowing the EU and the U.K. to move forward in the Brexit negotiations is predictably tedious.
China's October foreign trade headlines beat expectations, but the year-over-year numbers remain grim, with imports falling 6.4%, only a modest improvement from the 8.5% tumble in September.
The undershoot in the September core CPI does not change our view that the trend in core inflation is rising, and is likely to surprise substantially to the upside over the next six-to-12 months.
Chair Powell broke no new ground in his semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony yesterday, repeating the Fed's new core view that the current stance of policy is "appropriate".
China's Q2 official GDP growth, to be released on Monday, likely slowed to 6.2% year-over-year, from 6.4% in Q1.
China faces three possible macro outcomes over the next few years. First, the economy could pull off an active transition to consumer-led growth. Second, it could gradually slide into Japan-style growth and inflation, with government debt spiralling up. Third, it could face a full blown debt crisis, where the authorities lose control and China drags the global economy down too
China's M2 growth stabilised in November, at 8.0% year-over-year, matching the October rate.
The FOMC did mostly what was expected yesterday, though we were a bit surprised that the single rate hike previously expected for next year has been abandoned.
Brazil's benchmark inflation index, the IPCA, rose 0.5% unadjusted month-to-month in July, pushing the year-over-year rate down marginally to 8.7%, from 8.8% in June. Overall inflation pressures in Brazil are easing, especially in regulated prices, which have been the main driver of the disinflation trend this year. But market-set prices are still causing problems.
The U.K. general election is the main event in today's European calendar, but the first official ECB meeting and press conference under the leadership of Ms. Lagarde also deserves attention.
Car registrations, French inflation, advance PMIs and a central bank meeting make up today's substantial menu for investors in the euro area.
We've already raised a red flag for today's second Q4 GDP estimate in the Eurozone, but for good measure, we repeat the argument here.
We had expected the batch of Chinese data released at the end of last week to disappoint.
Friday' second Q4 GDP estimate revealed that the EZ economy barely grew at the end of 2019. The report confirmed that GDP rose by 0.1% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, slowing from a 0.3% rise in Q3, but the headline only narrowly avoided downward revision to zero, at just 0.058%
Brazil's consumer resilience in Q3 continued to November, but retail sales undershot market expectations, suggesting that the sector is not yet accelerating and that downside risks remain.
On the face of it, December's flash Markit/CIPS PMIs warrant the MPC cutting Bank Rate at its meeting on Thursday.
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.
The sharply increased virus spread outside China has lead to a serious downgrade in the global GDP growth outlook.
This week's Monetary Policy Committee meetings in Chile, Mexico and Colombia look set to dominate market events in LatAm. On Friday, we expect Mexico's Banxico to keep rates on hold at 3.75%, after its unexpected 50bp increase in mid-February. At that time, the board cited growing concerns about financial markets, Mexico's weakened currency, and the country's fiscal situation, as reasons for its move.
The MPC predicted in last week's Inflation Report that CPI inflation eased to 0.3% in April, thereby fully reversing its increase in March to 0.5%. We think, however, the Committee is underestimating the strength of inflation pressures across the economy.
China's GDP data--to be published on Monday-- are likely to report that growth slowed to 1.4% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, from 1.6% in Q3. A 1.4% increase would match the series low of Q1 2016.
Chinese real GDP growth reportedly edged down to 6.7% year-over-year in Q2, from 6.8% in Q1.
The Eurozone's trade surplus rebounded slightly over the summer, rising to €16.6B in August from €12.6B in July, helped mainly by a 2.0% month-to- month jump in exports.
The headlines of China's August activity data are missing the real story in recent months.
China's real GDP growth was unchanged at 6.4% year-over-year in Q1, above the consensus for a slowdown to 6.3%.
Market-implied expectations of negative rates through 2021, and bund yields plunging below -0.1%, are an accident waiting to happen, but the main story is clear as rain.
We lack an adjective sufficiently strong to describe China's February activity data.
Latin American markets and policymakers are bracing for another complicated week, after the second, and more aggressive, Fed emergency move over the weekend.
Signs that the economy has been crippled by people's response to the Covid-19 outbreak continued to emerge yesterday.
The "Phase One" China trade deal announced late last week is a step in the right direction, but a small one. With no official text available as we reach our deadline, we're relying on media reporting, but the outline of the agreement is clear.
Italy's political leadership faces its first biggest test in autumn, when it has to deliver its first budget.
Eurozone investors should by now be accustomed to direct intervention in private financial markets by policymakers.
Members of the Monetary Policy Committee have signalled that January's flash Markit/CIPS composite PMI, released on Friday 24, will have a major bearing on their policy decision the following week.
This weeks' IMF's staff report on the Italian economy has increased the urgency for a compromise between the EU and Italy over the country's suffering banks. The report highlighted that financial sector reform is "critical" to the economy, and that the treatment of the significant portion of retail investors in banks' debt structure should be dealt with "appropriately."
Nobody has a monopoly on "the truth".
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 0.242% increase in the January core CPI left the year-over-year rate at 2.3% for the third straight month.
The Fed was more hawkish than we expected yesterday.
The ECB will leave its main refinancing and deposit rates unchanged at 0.00% and -0.4%, respectively,
The PBoC has left rates unchanged, so far, in the wake of the Fed hike.
The headlines of China's main activity gauges paint a dreary picture of the start of the year, implying a slowdown.
The New York Times called the China trade agreement reached Friday "half a deal", but that's absurdly generous.
A bad year is threatening to become a catastrophic one for Eurozone equity investors.
China's July activity data pretty categorically wiped out any false hopes of a V-shaped recovery, after the June spike.
China's main activity data for October disappointed across the board, strengthening our conviction that the PBoC probably isn't quite done with easing this year.
The two biggest economies in the region have taken divergent paths in recent months, with the economic recovery strengthening in Brazil, but slowing sharply in Mexico.
Italy is edging closer to a coalition government with the Five-Star Movement, the Northern League, and Forza Italia at the helm.
At the end of last year, we highlighted a tail risk that strain in currency basis swaps markets signalled looming yen appreciation.
The idea that the ECB will use its forthcoming strategic policy review to include a measure of real estate prices in its inflation target has been consistently brought up by readers in recent meetings.
Yesterday's March PMIs confirmed that governments' actions to contain the Covid-19 outbreak dealt a hammer blow to the economy at the end of Q1.
We were surprised to see Japan's services PMI edging up to 51.9 in June, from 51.7 in May. We attributed apparent service sector resilience in April and May to the abnormally long holiday this year.
Europe's political leaders finally made a breakthrough this week in nominating candidates for the top jobs in the EU.
At the start of the year, #euroboom was the moniker used in financial media to describe the EZ economy.
The economy would have ground to a halt last year had households not reduced their saving rate sharply.
Data yesterday showed that Momentum in the EZ retail sector stumbled through middle of Q2.
On a headline level, last week's European Parliament elections were an excellent occasion for the EU.
Colombia's central bank has found a relatively sweet spot.
Brazil's December industrial production and labour reports, released late last week, confirmed that the recovery was struggling at the end of last year.
We aren't in the business of trying to divine the explanation for every twist and turn in the stock market at the best of times, and these are not the best of times.
We are revising down our forecasts for quarteron-quarter GDP growth in Q1 and Q2 to 0.3% and 0.2%, respectively, from 0.4% in both quarters previously, to account for the likely impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
We sympathise if readers are sceptical of our opening gambit in this Monitor.
Yesterday's data showed that the euro area PMIs were a bit stronger than initially estimated in November.
Brazil's December industrial production report, released yesterday, confirmed that the recovery was stuttering at the end of last year.
Global monetary policy divergence has returned with a vengeance. In the U.S., despite recent soft CPI data, a resolute Fed has prompted markets to reprice rates across the curve.
The unexpectedly robust 128K increase in October payrolls--about 175K when the GM strikers are added back in--and the 98K aggregate upward revision to August and September change our picture of the labor market in the late summer and early fall.
This week's March economic activity reports in Chile have been relatively strong, with the industrial sector expanding briskly and retail sales solid.
We've argued for some time that China faces a massive legacy of bad debt that will either have to be dealt with, or will result in the Japanning of its economy.
Was this an isolated occurrence, connected to the graft investigation into Chinese billionaire Xiao Jianhua, and his financial conglomerate?
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.
Yesterday's economic reports in the euro area were mixed.
The 0.18% increase in the core PCE deflator in December was at the lower end of the range implied by the core CPI. It left the year-over-year rate at just 1.5%.
The massive hit from low oil prices, Covid-19 and President AMLO's willingness to call snap referendums on projects already under construction is putting pressure on Mexico's sovereign credit fundamentals and ratings.
Money supply data in the euro point to a cyclical peak in GDP growth this year. Headline M3 growth fell to 4.8% year-over-year in July, from 5.0% in June, chiefly due to a slowdown in narrow money. M1 growth declined to 8.4%, from 8.7%, as a result of weaker momentum in overnight deposits and currency in circulation.
Most of the time, sterling broadly tracks a path implied by the difference between markets' expectations for interest rates in the U.K. and overseas. During the financial crisis, however, sterling fell much further than interest rate differentials implied, as our first chart shows.
It has been a nasty start to the year for LatAm as markets have been hit by renewed volatility in China, triggered by the coronavirus.
Last week we made a big call and further downgraded our China GDP forecasts for Q1; daily data and survey evidence suggested that our initial take, though grim, had not been grim enough.
Something of a debate appears to be underway in markets over the "correct" way to look at the coronavirus data.
The coronavirus outbreak, by definition, will fade eventually, but we suspect the measures to combat it will be more long-lasting. In terms of sheer scale, EZ governments and the ECB are throwing the kitchen sink at the virus, but that's only half the story.
The U.S. coronavirus outbreak is not slowing. The curve is not bending much, if at all. Confirmed cases continue to increase at a steady rate, averaging 23% per day over the past three days.
It's a myth that the 10-ye ar decline in the unemployment rate has not driven up the pace of wage growth.
A pair of closely-watched reports today will confirm that business and consumer confidence is tanking in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.
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 balance of payments figures for the second quarter likely will underline that the U.K. has financed strong growth in domestic consumption by amassing debts with the rest of the world at a breakneck pace.
The modest overshoot to consensus in September's core PCE deflator won't trouble any lists of great economic surprises, but it did serve to demonstrate that the PCE can diverge from the CPI, in both the short and medium-term.
Industrial profits in China collapsed by 38.3% year- over-year in the first two months of 2020, making December's 6.3% fall look like a minor blip.
The economic downturn and the Chancellor's unprecedented fiscal measures mean that public borrowing likely will be about four times higher, in the forthcoming fiscal year, than anticipated in the Budget just over two weeks ago.
We've previously highlighted the pro-cyclical elements of the BoJ's framework, but it's worth repeating, when an economic shock comes along.
The Budget on March 11 will be the first time that the new government's ambition and bluster collide with reality.
The Treasury has tried to dampen expectations for Tuesday's Spring Statement, which has replaced the Autumn Statement since the Budget was moved last year to November.
China was in lockdown ahead of the 70th Anniversary last week, as is typical around important political events.
We aren't convinced that China's recovery is in train just yet.
Yesterday's economic reports in the Eurozone were mostly positive.
In the wake of Wednesday's ADP report, showing a mere 27K increase in private payrolls, we cut our payroll forecast to 100K.
Nobody knows the damage China's virus- containment efforts will have on GDP, and we probably never will, for sure, given the opacity of the statistics.
Hopes that GDP growth will strengthen following the general election, which has eliminated near- term threats of a no-deal Brexit and a business- hostile Labour government, were bolstered yesterday by the release of December's Markit/ CIPS services survey.
The jump in oil prices over the past two trading days eventually will lift retail gasoline prices by about 35 cents per gallon, or 131⁄2%.
The hard data in Germany took a turn for the worse at the start of Q4. The outlook for consumers' spending was dented by the October plunge in retail sales--see here-- and on Friday, the misery spilled over into manufacturing.
The reported drop in mortgage applications over the holidays is now reversing, not that it ever mattered.
Judgement pending on Chinese industrial production. Chinese retail sales buoyed by inflation. Chinese FAI growth stable through Q4; local government spending better managed this year. China's housing market still not reached a bottom. Japan's tertiary index plunge is more tax hike than typhoon. Japan's PMIs underline damage from tax hike.
China's retail sector is on its knees at best. China's IP data suggest that the horrendous PMIs underplayed the carnage. A damning FAI report... tertiary capex should rebound, but the hit to global demand will hold back the secondary industry. China's property market grounds to a halt in February. The Bank of Korea steps in with an emergency cut, despite falling new infections locally.
Steady Q4 GDP growth in China masks respectable q/q rebound. Signs of recovery in China's industrial complex, but for how long? China's households continue to struggle. China's FAI growth shows rebuilding confidence around the Phase One deal. Japan's November tertiary index suggests October plunge was more tax than typhoon. January sees the first of many BoK "holds" this year.
Since April, the presidential elections in Brazil have dominated local discourse, prompting several market moves.
The verdict is not yet definitive, but prudence dictates we must now assume victory for Donald Trump. The immediate implication of President Trump is global risk-off, with stocks everywhere falling hard, government bonds rallying, alongside gold and the Swiss franc. The dollar is the outlier; usually the beneficiary when fear is the story in global markets, it has fallen overnight because the risk is a U.S. story.
The headline changes in yesterday's ECB policy announcement were largely as expected. The central bank left its main refinancing and deposit rates unchanged at 0.00% and -0.4% respectively, and maintained the pace of QE at €60B per month. The central bank also delivered the two expected changes to its introductory statement. The reference to "lower levels" was removed from the forward guidance on rates, signalling that the ECB does not expect that rates will be lowered anytime soon.
A third wave of Covid-19 outbreaks is now underway. The first, in China, is now under control, and the rate of increase of cases in South Korea has dropped sharply. The other second wave countries, Italy and Iran, are still struggling.
The rally in U.K. equities immediately after the general election has done little to reverse the prolonged period of underperformance relative to overseas markets since the E.U. referendum in June 2016.
China's unadjusted current account was effectively in balance in Q2, after the deficit in Q1.
The U.K. services sector has vanished overnight, following the introduction of tough restrictions on everyday life to stem the spread of Covid-19.
The rise in the Markit/CIPS services PMI to a nine-month high of 51.4 in July, from 50.2 in June, isn't a game-changer, though it does provide some reassurance that the economy isn't on a downward spiral.
The post-election run of upbeat business surveys was extended yesterday, with the release of the final Markit/CIPS services PMI for January.
Friday's Brazil industrial production data were surprisingly upbeat. Output rose 0.1% month-to-month in July, slightly better than the consensus forecast for no change. July's modest gain was the fifth consecutive increase, confirming that industrial output in Brazil is stabilizing, and it paints a less grim picture of GDP growth at the start of Q3.
China is facing a nasty mix of spiking CPI inflation and ongoing PPI deflation.
The majority of headlines from last week's advance Q4 GDP data in the Eurozone--see here--were negative.
The Fed's unscheduled 50bp cut on Tuesday opens up some space for Asian central banks to follow suit.
The run of above-consensus news on the U.K. economy came to an abrupt end last week, as a series of survey indicators for January took a turn for the worse. After six months of breathing space, the economic consequences of the Brexit vote are increasingly being felt.
Taken at face value, the retail sales data in the euro area suggest that consumers' spending hit a brick wall at the end of 2018.
Productivity growth reached the dizzy heights of 1.8% year-over-year in the second quarter, following a couple of hefty quarter-on-quarter increases, averaging 2.9%.
Sterling recovered to $1.23 yesterday, its highest level since late July, in response to the sharp decline in the risk of a no -deal Brexit at the end of October, triggered by MPs' actions.
There are only two stories that matter for EZ investors at the moment, and neither of them is related to the economic data.
Judging by interactions with readers in the past few weeks, fiscal policy is one of the most important topics for EZ investors as we move into the final stretch of the year.
October's Markit/CIPS services survey suggests that the PM's new Brexit deal has had a lukewarm reception from firms.
Data released on Wednesday, along with the BCB's press release on Tuesday, supported our longstanding forecast of further rate cuts in Brazil in the very near term.
Chancellor Sunak faces a tough first gig on Wednesday, when he delivers the long-awaited Budget.
Yesterday's sole economic report in the Eurozone confirmed that the economy slowed further at the end of 2018.
The data in LatAm were all over the map while we were out.
If Japan's flash PMIs for March are a sign of things to come, then the government really should get moving on fiscal stimulus.
The weaker is the economy over the next few months, the more likely it is that Mr. Trump blinks and removes some--perhaps even all--the tariffs on Chinese imports.
Investors think it more likely that the MPC will cut Bank Rate in the first half of next year, following Friday's release of the flash Markit/CIPS PMIs for November.
LatAm governments and central banks have been busy implementing additional measures to contain the spread of the virus, and acting rapidly to ease the effect on the economy.
The huge drop in the March Markit services PMI, reported yesterday, and the modest dip in the manufacturing index, are the first national business survey data to capture the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The IFO continues to tell a story of a German economy on the ropes.
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.
Even the record-breaking slump in Markit's composite PMI probably understates the hit to economic activity from Covid-19 and the emergency measures to slow its spread.
The gaps in the third quarter GDP data are still quite large, with no numbers yet for September international trade or the public sector, but we're now thinking that growth likely was less than 11⁄2%.
The German economy finished last year on the back foot.
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.
The ECB will keep its main refinancing and deposit rates unchanged at 0.00% and -0.4% today, but we think the central bank will satisfy markets' expectations for more clarity on the QE program next year.
The Covid-19 scare can be split into two stages, the initial outbreak in China, concentrated in Wuhan, and the now-worrying signs that clusters are forming in other parts of the world, primarily in South Korea, the Middle East and Italy.
The consensus for today's first post-apocalypse jobless claims number, 1,500K, looks much too low.
New BoE Governor Andrew Bailey will be reaching for his letter-writing pen soon, to explain to the Chancellor why CPI inflation is more than one percentage point below the 2% target.
In our view, the chances of a no-deal Brexit on October 31 have not surged just because Boris Johnson has become Prime Minister and is gesticulating wildly at the Despatch Box.
Q1 is not over yet, and we still await a lot of important data.
The MPC's meeting last week was notable not just for its glass half-full interpretation of the latest data, but also for its updated guidance on when it likely will begin to shrink its bloated balance sheet.
Yesterday's stock market bloodbath stands in contrast to the U.S. economic data, most of which so far show no impact from the Covid-19 outbreak.
The drop in the flash composite PMI in March will be one for the record books, unfortunately. We look for an unprecedented drop to 43.0, from 53.3 in February, which would undershoot the 45.0 consensus and signal clearly that a deep recession is underway.
The Eurozone's total external surplus hit the skids at the start of the year. Yesterday's report showed that the seasonally adjusted current account surplus plunged to a two-year low of €24.1B in January, from a revised €30.8B in December.
Yesterday's public finance figures brought more good news for the Chancellor.
Economists' forecasts are changing almost as quickly as market prices these days, and not for the better.
The rate of growth of new coronavirus infections across Europe slowed yesterday, in some cases quite markedly. We can quibble about the reliability of the data in individual countries, given variations in testing regimes, but the picture is strikingly uniform.
Brazil's central bank is finally decisively facing its demon, persistently high inflation. The eight-member policy board, known as Copom, decided unanimously on Wednesday to increase the Selic rate by 50bp to 12.25%, the highest level in more than three years, in line with the consensus.
The MXN remains the best performer in LatAm year-to-date, despite some ugly periods of high volatility driven by external and domestic threats.
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 Eurozone's external surplus rebounded further over the summer.
EU negotiations tend to go down to the wire; and last week's summit in Salzburg, and Theresa May's statement on Friday, suggest that the Brexit negotiations will do just that.
The run of better-than-expected public borrowing figures ended abruptly with the publication of March data yesterday.
Yesterday was a watershed moment for investors.
Today's ECB meeting will mainly be a victory lap for Mr. Draghi--it is the president's last meeting before Ms. Lagarde takes over--rather than the scene of any major new policy decisions.
We believe China is going through a paradigm shift in its economic policy, away from GDPism-- the obsession with GDP growth targeting--to environmentalism, setting widespread environmental targets on everything, from air to water to waste.
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 public finances are in better health than appeared to be the case a few months ago.
Yesterday's State Council meeting significantly expanded support to the economy, through a number of channels.
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.
China's total debt stock is high for a country at its stage of development, relative to GDP, but it is sustainable for country with excess savings. China was never going to be a typical EM, where external debtors can trigger a crisis by demanding payment.
Money supply dynamics in the Eurozone were broadly stable last month. M3 rose 5.0% year-over-year in May, accelerating slightly from a 4.9% increase in April, in line with the trend since the middle of 2015.
Industrial profits in China dropped 3.7% year-over- year in April, after surging 13.9% in March, according to the officially reported data.
Money supply data in the EZ continue to suggest that headline GDP growth will slow soon.
The real Boris Johnson will have to stand up this year.
Money supply growth in the Eurozone firmed last month. Broad money--M3--rose 5.0% year-overyear in August, after a tepid 4.5% rise in July.
The MPC likely will vote unanimously to keep Bank Rate at 0.75% on Thursday.
The extent of shut downs within China is now reaching extreme levels, going far beyond services and threatening demand for commodities, as well as posing a severe risk to the nascent upturn in the tech cycle.
BoJ Governor Kuroda has piqued interest with his recent comments on the "reversal rate", the rate at which easy monetary policy becomes counterproductive, due to the negative impact on financial intermediation.
Our analysis of the Q3 activity and GDP data in yesterday's Monitor strongly suggests that China's authorities will soon ready further stimulus.
The Redbook chainstore sales survey today is likely to give the superficial impression that the peak holiday shopping season got off to a robust start last week.
China's manufacturing PMIs put in a better performance in November, with the official gauge ticking up to 50.2 in November, from 49.3 in October, and the Caixin measure little changed, at 51.8, up from 51.7.
Both the E.U. and the U.K. government have been keen to emphasise, since the Withdrawal Agreement was provisionally signed off, that March 29 is a hard deadline for Brexit.
China's economic targets are AWOL this year, thanks to Covid-19 disruptions to the legislative calendar... and because policymakers seem unsure of what targets to set in such uncertain times.
Today's payroll number is completely irrelevant, because 97% of the 10.2M increase--so far--in initial jobless claims from their pre-coronavirus level came after the employment survey was conducted, between Sunday March 8 and Saturday March 14.
Monetary policy usually is the first line of defence whenever a recession hits.
Market-based measures of uncertainty and volatility remain elevated, but if we look beyond the headlines, two overall assumptions still inform forecasters' analysis of the economy and Covid-19.
China's official real GDP growth slowed to 6.0% year-over-year in Q3, from 6.2% in Q2 and 6.4% in Q1. Consecutive 0.2 percentage points declines are significant in China.
The resilience of the banking system will be in focus today when the results of this year's Bank of England stress test are published alongside its Financial Stability Report.
The speculation is over: 3.283 million people filed a new claim for unemployment benefits last week, nearly double the 1.7M consensus forecast, which looked much too low.
This week's economic data for the Mexican economy have been encouraging, especially for Banxico, which left its main interest rate unchanged yesterday at 3.0%. Inflation remained on target for the second consecutive month in the first half of February, and the closely-watched IGAE economic activity index--a monthly proxy for GDP--continued to grow at a relatively solid pace, despite the big hit from lower oil prices.
The ECB broadly conformed to markets' expectations today. The central bank maintained its key refinancing and deposit rates at 0.00% and -0.4% respectively, and delivered the consensus package on QE.
February's retail sales figures highlighted that consumers' spending was flagging even before the Covid-19 outbreak.
Judging by the media coverage of the Europe's "migrant crisis", you would think that the number of North African asylum seekers arriving at EU's southern borders is soaring.
Yesterday's consumer sentiment data in the two major euro area economies were mixed, but they still support our view that a rebound in EZ consumption growth is underway.
The recovery in the composite PMI to 52.4 in January, from 49.3 in December, should convince a majority of MPC members to vote on Thursday to maintain Bank Rate at 0.75%.
QE and a gradually strengthening economy will remain positive catalysts for equities in the euro area this year. But with the MSCI EU ex -UK up almost 24% in the first quarter, the best quarterly performance since Q4 1999, the question is whether the good news has already been priced in.
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.
As the situation with the coronavirus develops, and we gain more information on the authorities' response, it's becoming clear that the damage to Q1 GDP is going to be nasty.
Core durable goods orders in recent months have been much less terrible than implied by both the ISM and Markit manufacturing surveys.
Japan's May retail sales rebound was underwhelming at a mere 0.3% month-on-month, after a 0.1% fall in April.
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 BoK surprised markets and commentators by keeping rates unchanged at 1.25% yesterday, rather than cutting to 1.0%.
Headline M3 money supply growth in the Eurozone was steady as a rock at around 5% year-over-year between 2014 and the end of 2017.
The Covid-19 outbreak has rattled equity markets, but has not had a major bearing on DM currencies, yet.
Further evidence that the general election has transformed business confidence emerged yesterday, in the form of January's CBI Industrial Trends survey.
Markets rightly placed little weight on October's below-consensus GDP report yesterday, and still think that the chances of the MPC cutting Bank Rate within the next six months are below 50%.
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.
China's official PMIs for March surprised well to the upside, cheering markets across Asia.
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.
The Office for Budget Responsibility has decided to press ahead with the publication of new fiscal forecasts on November 7, despite the government's decision to postpone the Budget until after the next election.
We expect to see a 70K increase in October payrolls today.
The Q4 national accounts show that the economy lost further momentum at the end of last year, in the face of unprecedented levels of political uncertainty.
Data released this week in LatAm are the last calm before the coronavirus storm.
Chile's weak indicators in January confirm that the economy is struggling. Mining output plunged 12.6% year-over-year, down from a modest 0.6% contraction during Q4, due mostly to falling copper production and an unfavourable base effect. This will reverse in February but we still look for a 5% drop.
Brazil's March report reinforced recent evidence indicating that inflation is decelerating. The headline CPI surprised to the downside again, slowing to a nine-month low of 9.4% year-over-year from 10.4% in February. The index rose 2.6% quarter-to-quarter in Q1, well below the 3.8% increase in the same period last year.
The Budget on March 16 is set to mark the end of Chancellor George Osborne's lucky streak. Without corrective action, his self-imposed debt rule-- one of the two specified in the 'legally-binding' Charter for Budget Responsibility--looks set to be breached.
The consensus view that the recovery won't lose more momentum this year seems to assume that the U.K. economy is better placed to deal with the intensification of the fiscal squeeze than earlier this decade. We do not share this optimism.
Investors currently think that official interest rates are more likely to fall than rise this year. Overnight index swap markets are factoring in a 30% chance of a rate cut by December, but just a 1% chance of an increase by year-end. The case for expecting looser monetary policy, however, remains unconvincing.
The more headline hard data we see in the Eurozone, the more we are getting the impression that 2019 is the year of stabilisation, rather than a precursor to recession.
Yesterday's March labour market data in Germany were surprisingly strong
China's FX reserves were little changed in June, at $3,112B.
Our forecast of a solid 190K increase in headline December payrolls ignores our composite employment indicator, which usually leads by about three months and points to a print of just 50K or so.
China's trade balance flipped to an unadjusted deficit of $7.1B in the first two months of the year, from a $47.2B surplus in December.
We're now starting to see clear signs in unofficial data that households are slashing their expenditure on discretionary services, in order to minimise their chances of catching the coronavirus.
Japan's August balance of payments data, released yesterday, offer the first overview of financial flows since the BoJ "tweaks" at the end of July.
China's official and Caixin manufacturing PMIs have diverged in the last couple of months.
German exporters stumbled at the end of last year. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus in Germany dipped to €18.4B in December, from €21.8B in November, hit by a 3.3% month-to-month plunge in exports. Imports were flat on the month. The fall in exports looks dramatic, but it followed a 3.9% jump in the previous month, and nominal exports were up 2.5% over Q4 as a whole. Advance GDP data next week likely will show that net trade lifted quarter-on-quarter growth by 0.2 percentage points, partly reversing the 0.3pp drag in Q3. Real imports were held back by a jump in the import price deflator, due to rebounding oil prices.
Samuel Tombs has more than a decade of experience covering the U.K. economy for investors. At Pantheon, Samuel's research is rigorous, free of dogma and jargon, and unafraid to challenge consensus views. His work focuses on what matters to professional investors: The links between the real economy, monetary policy and asset prices. He has a strong track record of getting the big calls right. The Sunday Times ranked Samuel as the most accurate forecaster of the U.K. economy in both 2014 and 2018. In addition, Bloomberg consistently has ranked Samuel as one of the top three U.K. forecasters, out of pool of 35 economists, throughout 2018 and 2019. His in-depth knowledge of market-moving data and his forensic forecasting approach explain why he consistently beats the consensus. Samuel's work on Brexit goes beyond simply reporting developments and is always analytical and unbiased, enabling investors to see through the noise of the daily headlines. While his analysis points to a particular path that politicians will take, he acknowledges the inherent uncertainty and draws out the economic and financial market implications of all plausible Brexit scenarios. Samuel holds an MSc in Economics from Birkbeck College, University of London and an undergraduate degree in History and Economics from the University of Oxford. Prior to joining Pantheon in 2015, he was Senior U.K. Economist at Capital Economics. In 2011, Samuel won the Society of Business Economists' prestigious Rybczynski Prize for an article on quantitative easing in the UK. He is based in London but frequently visits our other offices. Recent key calls include: 2018 - Correctly forecast that GDP growth would slow and inflation would undershoot the MPC's initial forecast, prompting the Committee to shock investors and almost other economists by waiting until August to raise Bank Rate, rather than pressing ahead in May. 2017 - Argued that the MPC was wrong to expect CPI inflation to stay below 3% following sterling's depreciation. He also highlighted that economic indicators pointed to the Conservatives losing their outright majority in the snap general election.
The U.K.'s still-large current account deficit makes us nervous that sterling will need to depreciate further over the medium-term and would collapse if Brexit talks fail, causing international investors to take flight.
The reported 225K jump in payrolls in January was even bigger than we expected, but it is not sustainable. The extraordinarily warm weather last month most obviously boosted job gains in construction, where the 44K increase was the biggest in a year
Brazilian inflation hit its lowest rate in almost seven years in March, while Mexico's rate is the highest since July 2009. Yet we expect Mexico to tighten policy only modestly in the near term, while Brazil will ease rapidly.
A firmer picture is emerging of how Japan's economy fared in Q3, in light of the latest slew of data for August.
The early Q4 hard data in Germany recovered a bit of ground yesterday.
Fed Chair Yellen said nothing very new in the core of her Monetary Policy Testimony yesterday, repeating her view that rates likely will have to rise this year but policy will remain accommodative, and that the labor market is less tight than the headline unemployment rate suggests. The upturn in wage growth remains "tentative", in her view, making the next two payroll reports before the September FOMC meeting key to whether the Fed moves then.
The danse macabre between Greece and its creditors continued last week, increasing the risk of default and capital controls. Greek citizens don't want to leave the euro and Germany does not want a Grexit, two positions which should eventually form the basis for an agreement.
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.
Reporting on German CPI data has been like watching paint dry in recent months, but that will change in the first half of the year.
Investors kicked expectations for the first rise in official interest rates even further into the future when last month's labour market data, revealing a sharp fall in wage growth, were released. But a closer look at the official figures reveals that labour cost pressures have remained robust, cautioning against making a snap reaction if even weaker wage data are released on Wednesday.
At the end of last year, U.S. homebuilders were more optimistic than at any time in the previous 18 years, according to the monthly NAHB survey.
Investors and market observers of a relatively bearish persuasion argued over the weekend that the details of the October employment report were less encouraging than the headline, principally because the household survey showed that all the job growth, net, was among older workers, defined as people aged 55-plus. This, they argue, suggests that most of the increased demand for labor was concentrated in low-paid service sector jobs, where older workers are concentrated, perhaps reflecting retail hiring ahead of the holidays. Such a wave of hiring is unlikely to be repeated over the next few months, so payroll growth won't be sustained at its October pace.
Ian Shepherdson, Pantheon Macroeconomics, and Erik Knutzen, Neuberger Berman, provide insight to the markets ahead of the FOMC meeting.
The initial pace of the Fed's balance sheet run-off, which we expect to start in October, will be very low. At first, the balance sheet will shrink by only $10B per month, split between $6B Treasuries and $4B mortgages.
For some time now, we have puzzled over the softness of small firms' capital spending intentions, as measured by the monthly NFIB survey.
The ECB atoned for its "mistake" in December yesterday by delivering a new easing package that significantly beat markets' expectations. The central bank cut its main refi and marginal lending facility rates by 0.05 percentage points, to 0.00% and 0.25% respectively.
We have recently looked at China's capacity to grow its way out of the debt overhang--see here--and whether last year's deleveraging can be sustained; see here.
Suggestions that the U.K. government might choose to hold a second referendum have been constantly rebuffed by the Prime Minister.
At the October FOMC meeting, policymakers softened their view on the threat posed by the summer's market turmoil and the slowdown in China, dropping September's stark warning that "Recent global economic and financial developments may restrain economic activity somewhat and are likely to put further downward pressure on inflation in the near term." Instead, the October statement merely said that the committee is "monitoring global economic and financial developments."
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.
Today's wave of data will bring new information on the industrial sector, consumers, the labor market, and housing, as well as revisions to the third quarter GDP numbers.
Mexico's latest hard data suggest things might not be as bad as we feared. Retail sales and manufacturing output were relatively strong at the end of last year, the Q4 preliminary GDP report was mostly upbeat, and the labor market was firing on all cylinders.
The Nikkei services PMI for Japan partly rebounded in January, to 51.6, after it fell sharply to 51.0 in December.
The services sector in China is notoriously difficult to track, with the major aggregate statistics published only on a quarterly or even annual basis.
The ECB conformed to our expectations yesterday. The central bank left its main interest rate unchanged, and reiterated its expectation that QE will be wound down via a three-month taper in Q4.
A steep drop in prices for financial services in January was a key factor behind the sharp slowdown in the rate of increase of the core PCE deflator in the first quarter, relative to the core CPI.
Brazil's central bank is desperately trying to get a grip on inflation. It has raised the Selic rate by 225bp, to 13.25%, in just the last six months, and real rates now stand at a hefty 5.0%. And, at last, we are seeing tentative signs that policymakers and the government, after hiking rates and adjusting regulated prices, are making some headway.
The government now has a 50:50 chance of getting the Withdrawal Agreement Bill--WAB--through parliament in the coming weeks, despite Letwin's successful amendment and the extension request.
The MPC was more hawkish than we and most investors expected yesterday. The vote to keep Bank Rate at 0.50% was split 6-3, f ollowing Andy Haldane's decision to join the existing hawks, Ian McCafferty and Michael Saunders.
Economic growth in France has been the key downside surprise in the Eurozone this year.
The Governor's comments late last week successfully recalibrated markets, which had concluded that a May rate hike was virtually certain, despite the MPC's deliberately vague guidance.
Over the past few days we have written about the difference between the Fed's tactics--signalling rate hikes and then choosing not to act in the face of weaker data--and its strategy, which is to normalize rates in the expectation that inflation will head to 2% in the medium-term.
You'd be hard-pressed to read the minutes of the September FOMC meeting and draw a conclusion other than that most policymakers are very comfortable with their forecasts of one more rate hike this year, and three next year.
The BoJ left its policy levers unchanged at the Monetary Policy Committee meeting on Friday. At the press conference, Governor Kuroda was repeatedly asked about the status of the ¥80T annual asset purchase target and what the exit strategy would be.
If we're right in our view that the strength of the dollar has been a major factor depressing the rate of growth of nominal retail sales, the weakening of the currency since January should soon be reflected in stronger-looking numbers. In real terms--which is what matters for GDP and, ultimately, the lab or market--nothing will change, but perceptions are important and markets have not looked kindly on the dollar-depressed sales data.
CPI inflation surprised to the downside in April, falling to 0.3% from 0.5% in March. Both the consensus and ourselves expected the rate to hold steady. Nearly all of the surprise, however, was in airfares and clothing inflation, which were depressed, to a greater extent than we anticipated, by the shift in the timing of Easter and bad weather, respectively.
We doubt there will ever be a fail-safe leading indicator of when a recession is about to hit, but asset prices can help us to assess the risks, at least.
Colombia's worrying inflation picture suggests the Central Bank will likely hike rates at least once more before the end of the year, attempting to anchor expectations. The October 30th BanRep minutes, in which the board surprised the market by hiking the main rate by 50bp to 5.25%--consensus was a 25bp increase--made it clear that the decision was based on fear of increased inflation risks, coupled with an improving domestic demand picture. The 50bp hike was not agreed unanimously, with dissenters arguing that the bank should adopt a more gradual approach due the high degree of uncertainty over the global economy. In addition, those favoring a 25bp hike argued that it would be better to move at a predictable pace to avoid possible market turmoil.
Today brings the September housing construction report, which likely will show that activity was depressed by the hurricanes.
Earlier this week the New York Times bleakly suggested--see here--that people in Italy are too depressed to care about this weekend's parliamentary elections.
Yesterday's IFO survey capped a fine Q4 for German business survey data. The headline business climate index climbed to a 34-month high of 111.0 in December, from 110.4 in November. An increase in the "current assessment" index was the main driver of the gain, while the expectations index rose only trivially.
The April FOMC statement dropped the March assertion that "global economic and financial developments continue to pose risks" to the U.S. economy, even though growth "appears to have slowed". Instead policymakers pointed out that "labor conditions have improved further", perhaps suggesting they don't take the weak-looking March data at face value. We certainly don't.
Chile's activity numbers at the beginning of Q3 were mediocre, suggesting that the economy remains sluggish. The industrial production index--comprising mining, manufacturing, and utility output--fell by 1.7% year-over-year in July, reversing a 1.6% expansion in June. A disappointing 4.5% year-over-year contraction in mining activity depressed the July headline index, following a 1.4% increase in June. The moderation in output growth was due to maintenance-related shutdowns at key processing plants, and disruptions from labor strikes, especially a three-week strike by contract workers at Codelco--the state-owned mining firm--which badly hit production.
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.
LatAm assets and currencies had a bad November, due to global trade war concerns, the USD rebound and domestic factors.
It is very difficult to be positive about the Brazilian economy in the short term, with every indicator of confidence at historic lows. The industrial business confidence index fell 9.2% month-to-month in March alone. Capacity use dropped to 79.7% from 81.5% in February, the lowest level in six years, and inventories rose, presumably because businesses over-estimated the strength of sales.
Final data for Eurozone inflation yesterday revealed that inflation fell slightly to 0.1% year-over-year in August, from 0.2% in July, a tiny downward revision from the original estimate of 0.2%. Depressed energy prices will continue to constrain inflation in coming months, but base effects will reduce this drag, and core inflation is rising. Nominal GDP growth accelerated to 2.9% year-over-year in Q2, up from 2.4% in Q1, sending a convincing signal of higher core inflation.
To avoid rocking the 2020 boat, the Phase One trade deal needed to be sufficiently vague, so that neither side, and particularly Mr. Trump, would have much cause to kick up a fuss around missed targets.
The upturn in core CPI inflation this year has passed by almost unnoticed in the markets and media. In the year to September, the core CPI rose 1.9%, up from a low of 1.6% in January. But that's still a very low rate, and with core PCE inflation unchanged at only 1.3% over the same period, it's easy to see why investors have remained relaxed. In our view, though, things are about to change, because a combination of very adverse base effects and gradually increasing momentum in the monthly numbers, is set to lift both core inflation measures substantially over the next few months.
The FOMC yesterday did what it had to do, and said what it had to say. The super-doves were kicked into line, with a unanimous vote, though two members' blue dots showed they think rates should not have been raised. In our view, though, Dr. Yellen's avowed intention to raise rates gradually sits uneasily with her--correct--assertion that policy remains very accommodative, bearing in mind that the unemployment rate is now at the Fed's estimate of the Nairu, while evidence of accelerating wage gains is burgeoning.
With Russia and some other emerging economies now in full panic mode, the financial market story is sharply divided between two narratives. Either the plunge in global energy prices acts as positive catalyst by boosting real incomes and allowing most central banks to run easier monetary policy or it is a sign that risk assets are about to hit a deflationary wall.
The acceleration in real consumption over the past year reflects the upturn in real after-tax income growth. This, in turn, is mostly a story of falling gasoline prices, which have depressed the PCE deflator. Gross nominal incomes before tax rose 4.2% year-over-year in the three months to September, exactly matching the pace in the three months to September 2014. But real income growth, after tax, accelerated to 3.3% from 2.5% over the same period, as our first chart shows.
September's consumer price figures likely will surprise to the downside, prompting markets to reassess their view that the MPC will almost certainly raise interest rates next month.
The PBoC late on Wednesday announced measures to provide medium-term funding for smaller businesses.
As we reach our deadline on Sunday afternoon, eastern time, Tropical Storm Florence continues to dump vast quantities of rain on the Carolinas, and is forecast to head through Kentucky and Tennessee, before heading north.
Speaking in Brussels earlier this week, Mr. Draghi noted that the ECB is encouraged by signs that private investment is finally turning up, to complement strong consumption. It is too early to make that assumption, we think, but we agree with the president that the trend is moving slowly in the right direction.
Comments by Mr. Draghi in Washington last week point to a high bar for an adjustment to the QE program. The ECB president noted that while asset purchases and negative interest rates have driven a notable improvement in confidence and asset prices, the real key to the central bank's policies' success is a lasting boost to investment, consumption and inflation.
The slowdown in households' real incomes has taken a swift toll on the housing market this year. Measures of house prices from Nationwide, Halifax, LSL and Rightmove essentially have flatlined since the end of 2016, following four years of rapid growth, as our first chart shows.
Demand for new cars in the Eurozone has climbed a long way since the last recession, but growth is slowing. Overall, new car registrations in the EZ rose a solid 15.2% in 2016 as a whole. But momen tum slowed in the second half, and sales likely will remain comparatively muted this year. In December, registrations in the euro area rose 2.1% year-over-year in December, down from 5.8% in November. The headline was depressed by plunging growth in some of the smaller countries, offsetting better numbers in the major four economies.
The Prime Minister set out her blueprint for Brexit yesterday, asserting that the U.K. will leave the single market and potentially even the E.U.'s customs union in order to control immigration and regain lost sovereignty. She argued that "no deal is better than a bad deal", suggesting that the U.K. might even fall back on its membership of the World Trade Organisation as the basis for trading with the E.U., if her demands were not met.
Activity in Colombia cooled at the end of the first quarter, in the face of many domestic and external headwinds. Retail sales, for example, plunged 2.9% in March after a 4.6% leap in February. The headline likely was depressed by the early Easter, as March had one fewer trading day than February.
Weakness across EM asset markets returned after the April FOMC minutes, released last week, suggested that a June rate hike is a real possibility. The risks posed by Brexit, however, is still a very real barrier to Fed action, with the vote coming just eight days after the FOMC meeting.
Brazil's mid-June inflation reading surprised to the downside, falling to 9.0% from 9.6% in May. The reading essentially confirmed that May's rebound was a pause in the downward trend rather than a resurgence of inflationary pressures. A 1.3% increase in housing prices, including services, was the main driver of mid-June's modest unadjusted 0.4% month-to-month rise in the IPCA-15.
Investors looking for more QE and rate cuts will be disappointed by ECB inaction today. We think the Central Bank will keep its main interest rates unchanged, and also maintain the pace of asset purchases at €60B a month. We do, however, look for a slight change in language, hinting that QE is likely to continue beyond September next year.
Soon after last week's vote to keep Bank Rate at 0.50%, the MPC's doves were quick to assert that monetary easing is still imminent. A speech by Andy Haldane, published on July 15, called for "... a package of mutually complementary monetary policy easing measures" that should be "delivered promptly and muscularly". Meanwhile, Gertjan Vlieghe, who was alone in voting for a rate cut in July, wrote in The Financial Times last week that he also favours "a package of additional measures" in August.
We're expecting a substantial inventory hit in the fourth quarter, subtracting about 1¼ percentage points from headline GDP growth. Businesses very likely added to their inventories in Q4, in real terms, but the we reckon the increase was only about $30B, annualized, compared to the $85.5B jump in the third quarter. Remember, the contribution to GDP growth is the change in the pace of inventory-building between quarters.
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 ECB held fire yesterday and kept its main refinancing and deposit rates unchanged at 0.0% and -0.4%, respectively. The central bank also left the pace of monthly asset purchases unchanged at €80B. The introductory statement overall confirmed the central bank's dovish stance.
The Eurogroup finally agreed on a four-month financing extension for Greece late Friday evening, conditional on Syriza presenting a satisfactory list of reforms later today. At the press conference, Eurogroup President Dijsselboem emphasized that commitments always come before money.
Yesterday's German IFO survey broadly confirmed the bullish message from the PMIs earlier this week. The headline business climate index rose to 111.0 in February from a revised 109.9 in January, boosted by increases in both the current assessment and the expectations index.
On the eve of the referendum, opinion polls continue to suggest that the result is essentially a coin toss. The latest online polls point to a neck-and-neck race, while telephone polls point to a narrow Remain victory.
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.
We sympathize greatly with investors' frustration over endless postponements and new "deadlines" in the negotiations between Greece and its creditors. Syriza delivered a proposal for reforms to the EU and the IMF on Monday morning, welcome d as a "positive step in the right direction" by Eurogroup president Dijsselbloem and Economic and Financial Affairs commissioner Moscovici.
November's labour market data were the last before the MPC's February meeting, when it will conduct its annual assessment of the supply side of the economy.
The ECB sent a strong signal yesterday that it is ready to fight deflation with a full range of unconventional monetary policy tools. Asset purchases, including sovereigns, to the tune of €60B per month will begin in March, and will run until end-September 2016, but Mr. Draghi noted that purchases could continue if the ECB is not satisfied with the trajectory of inflation.
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.
The federal debt ceiling was re-imposed last week, with no fanfare, and no reaction in the markets. All eyes were focussed instead on the Fed's rate hike and Chair Yellen's press conference.
We have been asked several times in recent days whether a pick-up in stockbuilding, as part of businesses' contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit, could cause the economy to gather some pace in the run-up to Britain's scheduled departure from the EU in March 2019.
January's public finance data, released today, take on particular importance because they are the last to be published before the Chancellor delivers his first Budget on March 8. The public finances nearly always swing into surplus in January, primarily because the deadline for individuals to submit self-assessment--SA--tax returns for the previous fiscal year is at the end of the month. Firms also pay their third of four payments of corporation tax for their profits in the current fiscal year.
While financial markets remain obsessed with the Brexit saga, January's labour market data provided more evidence yesterday that the economy is coping well with the heightened uncertainty.
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.
The MPC has wasted no time in seeking to counter this week's undesirable pick-up in gilt yields, which reflects investors dumping assets for cash.
Economists refer to two different types of forward rate guidance by central banks: Delphic and Odyssean. The former describes a "normal" situation, in which the central bank follows a transparent rate-setting rule allowing markets to forecast what it will do, based on the flow of economic data.
Financial markets have put maximum pressure on the ECB going into today's meeting, but we doubt it will be enough to spur the governing council into action so soon after announcing additional stimulus in December. We think the central bank will keep its refi and deposit rate unchanged at 0.05% and -0.3% respectively, and maintain the pace of asset purchases at €60B a month.
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.
Abenomics has had its successes in changing the structure of Japan. Notably, large numbers of women have gone back to work and corporations have started paying dividends. These are by no means small victories. But overall, the macroeconomy is essentially the same as when Shinzo Abe became prime minister.
If the only things that mattered for the housing markets were the obvious factors--the strength of the labor market, and low mortgage rates--the sector would be booming. Activity is picking up, with new and existing home sales up by 23% and 9% year-over-year respectively in the three months to May, but the level of transactions volumes remains hugely depressed. At the peak, new home sales were sustained at an annualized rate of about 1½M, but May sales stood at only 546K. Adjusting for population growth, the long-run data suggests sales ought to be running at close to 1M.
The ECB pressed the repeat button yesterday. The central bank maintained its refinancing rate at 0.00%, and also kept the deposit and marginal lending facility rate at -0.4% and 0.25 respectively. The pace of QE was held at €60B per month, scheduled to run until the end of December, "or beyond, if necessary."
Final inflation data yesterday confirmed Eurozone inflation pressures are still low. Inflation rose to 0.2% year-over-year in December from 0.1% in November, lifted by easing deflation in energy prices. Base effects likely will lift energy price inflation in January and February, but the year-over-year rate will dip in Q2, if the oil price remains depressed. Food inflation fell in December due to a decline in unprocessed food prices, and we see further downside in Q1. Core inflation was unchanged, with the key surprise that services inflation fell to 1.1% from 1.2% in November. We think this dip will be temporary, however, and our first chart shows that risks to services inflation are tilted to the upside.
If you had only the NFIB survey of small businesses as your guide to the state of the business sector, you'd be blissfully unaware that the economic commentariat right now is obsessed with the potential hit from the trade tariffs, actual and threatened.
The stakes are raised ahead of today's ECB meeting after the central bank's pledge in January to "review and reassess" its policy stance. Since then, survey data have weakened, inflation has fallen and volatility in financial markets has increased. The ECB likely will act accordingly and deliver a boost to monetary stimulus today.
We've had some correspondence questioning our view on the "weakness" of February hourly earnings, which we firmly believe were depressed by a persistent calendar quirk. Almost nine times in 10 over the past decade, when the 15th of the month has fallen after the week of the 12th--the payroll survey week--the monthly gain in wages has undershot the prior trend.
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.
For some time now we have argued that the forces which have depressed business capex--the collapse in oil prices, the strong dollar, and slower growth in China--are now fading, and will soon become neutral at worst. As these forces dissipate, the year-over-year rate of growth of capex will revert to the prior trend, about 4-to-6%. We have made this point in the context of our forecast of faster GDP growth, but it also matters if you're thinking about the likely performance of the stock market.
Demand for new mortgages to finance house purchase has rebounded somewhat in recent weeks, following an alarming dip in the wak e of October's stock market correction. At the low, in the third week in October, the MBA's index of applications volume was at its lowest since mid-February, when the reported numbers are substantially depressed by a long-standing seasonal adjustment problem.
We think Japanese monetary policy easing essentially is tapped out, both theoretically and by political constraints.
Market participants and analysts have gradually softened their cautious stance towards Mexico, as concerns about the new U.S. administration's trade and immigration policies have eased, and risks of a credit rating downgrade have lessened.
Some commentators have asserted that the Monetary Policy Committee won't raise interest rates until all its members agree and investors have fully priced in an increase, arguing that an earlier move would create excessive market turmoil and muddy the Committee's message. But a look back to previous turning points in the interest rate cycle suggests that the Monetary Policy Committee--MPC--hasn't paid much heed to those considerations before.
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.
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.
Demand for new mortgages to finance house purchase has rebounded somewhat in recent weeks, following an alarming dip in the wak e of October's stock market correction. At the low, in the third week in October, the MBA's index of applications volume was at its lowest since mid-February, when the reported numbers are substantially depressed by a long-standing seasonal adjustment problem.
Nowhere is the gap between sentiment and activity wider than in the NFIB survey of small businesses. The economic expectations component leaped by an astonishing 57 points between October and December, but the capex intentions index rose by only two points over the same period, and it has since slipped back. In February, the capex intentions index stood at 26, compared to an average of 27.3 in the three months to October.
A reader sent us last week a series of five simple feedback loops, all of which ended with the Fed remaining "cautious". For example, in a scenario in which the dollar strengthens--perhaps because of stronger U.S. economic data--markets see an increased risk of a Chinese devaluation, which then pummels EM assets, making the Fed nervous about global growth risks to the domestic economy.
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.
Mark Carney's assertion that "...some monetary policy easing will likely be required over the summer" is a clear signal that an interest rate cut is in the pipeline. But easing likely will be modest, due to the much higher outlook for inflation following sterling's precipitous decline.
Pantheon Macroeconomics Founder and Chief Economist Ian Shepherdson discusses his outlook for the economy, equities and European banks. He speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance."
Peak Trade War Likely Has Passed....But Existing Tariffs Are Dampening Growth
Focussed on the Macro: The Fed will soon hike, despite soft manufacturing
Brexit and fiscal headwinds have lessended...but consumers' spending will struggle in 2018
With just one week to go, our Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs will assess the likelihood of potential general election outcomes and their implications for financial market, Brexit and monetary policy
After disappointing Italian Industrial Output Data, Pantheon Macroeconomics Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen discusses the current situation in the Eurozone.
Focussed on the Macro: The Fed will soon hike, despite soft manufacturing
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.
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 headline number in today's NFIB survey of small businesses probably will look soft. The index is sensitive to the swings in the stock market and we'd be surprised to see no response to the volatility of recent weeks. We also know already that the hiring intentions number dropped by four points, reversing December's gain, because the key labor market numbers are released in advance, the day before the official payroll report.
The BCB's Copom kept Brazil's Selic rate at 14.25% this week, as expected. The brief accompanying communiqué was very similar to the January statement, saying that after assessing the outlook for growth and inflation, and "the current balance of risks, considering domestic and, mainly, external uncertainties", the Copom decided to keep the Selic rate at a nine-year high, without bias.
Brazil's recession has been severe, triggered by the downturn in the commodity cycle, which revealed the underlying structural weaknesses in the economy. This set off an acute shock in domestic demand, but it has bottomed in recent months and we now expect a gradual recovery to emerge.
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 Easter effect depressed services inflation more than markets expected in April, but the main downside surprise was the tepid rebound in non-energy goods inflation.
The August NFIB survey of activity and sentiment at small businesses was soft, but it could have been worse.
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.
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."
Small businesses remain extremely positive about the economy, but some of the post-election gloss appears to be wearing off. To be clear, the headline composite index of small business sentiment and activity in February, due this morning, will be much higher than immediately before the election, but a modest correction seems likely after January's 12- year high.
The EU and Greece finally managed to agree on the framework for a third bailout yesterday, conditional on ratification in the Greek and EU parliaments this week. Mr. Tsipras' capitulation to EU demands will increase tensions within Syriza, but we expect the opposition comfortably to offset any government dissenters in this week's vote.
Economic growth in Mexico will remain relatively modest over the second half of the year, and the outlook for 2017 remains cloudy, for now. The core fundamentals suggest that growth will increase, but we think that depressed mining output and fiscal tightening might limit the pace of the upturn.
The key labor market numbers from today's August NFIB survey of small businesses have already been released--they appear a day or two before the employment report--but they will be reported as though they are news. The headline hiring intentions reading dipped to nine from 12, leaving it near the bottom of the range of the past couple of years.
Let's be clear: The July retail sales numbers do not mean the consumer is rolling over, and the PPI numbers do not mean that disinflation pressure is intensifying. We argued in the Monitor last Friday, ahead of the sales data, that the 4.2% surge in second quarter consumption--likely to be revised up slightly--could not last, and the relative sluggishness of the July core retail sales numbers is part of the necessary correction. Headline sales were depressed by falling gasoline prices, which subtracted 0.2%.
Colombia is one of the fastest growing economy in LatAm but over the last few quarters the collapse in oil prices, the depreciating currency--fearing higher U.S. interest rates--and rising inflation, have depressed confidence and dragged down economic activity.
The starting gun for the "Brexit" referendum will be fired this week if E.U. leaders, who meet for a two-day summit starting Thursday, agree to the draft reform package assembled by Prime Minister and E.U. President Donald Tusk.
We were surprised by the weakness of the April housing starts report; we expected a robust recovery after the March numbers were depressed by the severe snowstorms across a large swathe of the country. Instead, single-family permits rose only trivially and multi-family activity--which is always volatile--fell by 9% month-to-month.
China's September imports missed expectations, but commentators and markets tend to focus on the year-over-year numbers.
LatAm assets did well in Q1, on the back of upbeat investor risk sentiment, low volatility in developed markets and a relatively benign USD.
Recent industrial data for Mexico point to renewed upside risks for GDP growth, despite the likely headwind to consumption from high inflation and depressed confidence.
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.
Evidence that U.K. asset prices still are depressed by Brexit risk has become harder to find.
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.
On the face of it, small business have taken quite a hit over the past few months. The headline index from the NFIB survey of small businesses has dropped to a nine-month low of 95.2 in March from 100.4 in December. As a result, the gap between the NFIB and the ISM manufacturing indexes, which had been narrowing, has widened again.
Brazilian political risk remains high but, as we have argued in previous Monitors, it is unlikely to deter policymakers from further near-term monetary easing. The political crisis, however, does suggest that the COPOM will act cautiously, waiting until the latest storm passes before acting more aggressively, despite ongoing good news on the inflation front.
Eurozone capital markets have been split across the main asset classes this year. Equity investors have had a nightmare. The MSCI EU ex-UK index is down 10.6% year-to-date, a remarkably poor performance given additional QE from the ECB and stable GDP growth. Corporate bonds, on the other hand, are sizzling.
With less than a month before the first round of votes on October 7 in Brazil's presidential election, markets are dissecting both the polls and speeches of the candidates and their economic advisors.
Political uncertainty has been a key theme in our recent conversations with clients, with many readers asking if it is time to step away, temporarily, from Eurozone assets. Valuations provide some support for that position.
Investors will increase their focus on exchange rates as the US presidential election and the Fed's next rate hike approach. Markets are becoming concerned that a surge in the USD could trigger another spike in LatAm currency volatility, depressing the good year- to-date performance of most local market assets.
The upward trend in CPI inflation likely reasserted itself in August, following a hiatus in the last two months due to the decline in oil prices.
Mexico's latest industrial production figures, released on Friday, showed that the recovery is stuttering. May output fell 0.9% year-over-year, down from the 1.2% gain in April. Total production was depressed by a 1.5% month-to-month drop in construction output, after two consecutive increases.
On all accounts, growth in France has been modest in the past six-to-12 months, but in relative terms, the French economy is slowly but surely asserting itself as one of the key engines of growth in the EZ.
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.
Chinese monetary conditions remain tight. Systemic tightening through higher interest rates last year is playing a role, but intensified and ever- more public regulatory enforcement is becoming the primary driver of tightening credit conditions for businesses.
The key labor market numbers from the monthly NFIB survey of small businesses are released ahead of the main report, due today.
Governor Kuroda dropped further hints in speeches earlier this week that interest rates will be going up. He discussed methods of exit, in loose terms.
Margins for German manufacturing firms remained depressed at the start of the second quarter. The headline PPI rose 0.1% month-to-month in April, pushing the year-over-year rate down marginally to -3.1% from a revised -3.0% in March. Falling energy prices are the key driver of the overall decline in the PPI.
The ECB will keep interest rates on hold later today, and the commitment to monthly asset purchases of €60B--of which €50B will be sovereigns--until September next year will also remain unchanged. Sovereign QE should begin formally next week, but it has already turned bond markets upside down.
If the underlying trend in payroll growth is about 200K, then a weather-depressed 98K reading needs to be followed by a rebound of about 300K in order fully to reverse the hit. But the consensus for today's April number is only 190K, and our forecast is 225K.
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 prospect of a Greek parliamentary election on January 25th, following Prime Minister Samaras' failure to secure support for his presidential candidate, weighed on Eurozone assets over the holidays. The looming political chaos in Greece will increase market volatility in the first quarter, but it is too early to panic.
Brazil's central bank doubled the pace of rate increases last Wednesday, in the wake of the re-elected Rousseff government's promise to tackle the severe inflation problem.
Dilma Rousseff was sworn in for a second term as Brazil's president last Thursday, vowing to extend social welfare programmes and promising to investigate the Petrobras corruption scandal.
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.
Markets and the commentariat seemed not to like the April ADP employment report yesterday but we are completely indifferent. We set out in detail in yesterday's Monitor the case for expecting a below consensus ADP reading--in short, the model used to generate the number includes lagging official data, some of which were hugely depressed by the early Easter--so it does not change our 200K forecast for tomorrow's official number.
Brazil economic and political outlook is still opaque, but grim, after a vast array of negative news. Impeachment of President Rousseff remains a possibility; the process of fiscal consolidation is messy and politically bloody; rumors that Finance Minister Levy might leave his post next year have intensified; and the latest data showed that the recession worsened in Q3. As a consequence, the BRL and interest rates have been under pressure and we see no clear signs that the turmoil will ease soon.
Barring some sort of out-of-the-blue shock, we are much more interested in the hourly earnings data today than the headline payroll number. The key question is the extent to which wages rebound after being depressed by a persistent calendar quirk in both February and March.
We chose last week to ignore the payroll warning signal from the ISM non-manufacturing employment index, which rolled over in January and February, because the danger seemed to have passed. The ISM is not always a reliable indicator--the drop in the index in early 2014 was not replicated in the official data, but the plunge in early 2015 was--and usually it operates with a very short lag, just a month or two.
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.
Factory orders in Germany probably jumped in September, following a string of losses in the beginning of Q3. We think new orders rose 1.0% month-to-month, pushing the year-over-year rate slightly lower, to 1.8% from 2.0% in August. A rebound in non- Eurozone export orders likely will be the key driver of the monthly gain, following a 14.8% cumulative plunge in the previous two months. The rise will be concentrated in capital and consumer goods, and should be enough to offset a fall in export orders within the euro area. Our forecast is consistent with new orders falling 2.0% quarter-on-quarter in Q3, partly reversing the 3.0% surge in the second quarter, and raising downside risks for production in Q4.
Most of the leading indicators of payroll growth have rebounded in recent months, with the exception of the Help Wanted Online. Our first chart shows that the NFIB's measure of hiring intentions and the ISM non-manufacturing employment index have returned to their cycle highs, while the manufacturing employment index has risen substantially from its late 2015 low. The Help Wanted Online remains very weak, but it might have been depressed by increased prices for job postings on Craigslist.
The underlying trend in payroll growth ought to be running at 250K-plus, based on an array of indicators of the pace of both hiring and firing. The past few months' numbers have fallen far short of this pace, though, for reasons which are not yet clear. We are inclined to blame a shortage of suitably qualified staff, not least because that appears to be the message from the NFIB survey, which shows that the proportion of small businesses with unfilled positions is now close to the highs seen in previous cycles. If we're right, payroll growth won't return to the 254K average recorded in 2014 until the next cyclical upturn, but quite what to expect instead is anyone's guess.
The March employment report didn't tell us what we really want to know. The underlying trend in wage growth remains obscured by the calendar quirk which depresses reported hourly earnings when the 15th of the month--pay day for people paid semi-monthly -- falls after the payroll survey week.
On all accounts, the ECB announced a significant addition to its stimulus program yesterday. The central bank cut the deposit rate by 0.1%, to -0.3%, and extended the duration of QE until March 2017. The ECB also increased the scope of eligible assets to include regional and local government debt; decided to re-invest principal bond payments; and affirmed its commitment to long-term refinancing operations in the financial sector for as long as necessary. The measures were not agreed upon unanimously, but the majority was, according to Mr. Draghi, "very large".
The Brazilian manufacturing sector remains very depressed by weak end-demand, but the misery is easing, at the margin. Industrial production fell 2.5% month-to-month in February, equivalent to an eye-watering 9.8% contraction year-over-year, but this was rather less bad than the 13.6% slump in January.
Advance CPI data yesterday continue to indicate that inflation pressures remain depressed in the Eurozone's largest economy, for now. Inflation in Germany rose slightly in May, but only to 0.1% year-over-year, from -0.1% in April. The downward pressure on the headline from the crash in oil prices remains significant. Energy prices fell 7.9% year-over-year, slowing slightly from the 8.5% drop in the year to April.
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.
Defaults by Chinese companies have been on the rise lately. Most recently, China Energy, an oil and gas producer with $1.8B of offshore notes outstanding, missed a bond payment earlier this week. We've highlighted the likelihood of a rise in defaults this year, for three main reasons.
We're expecting to see November payrolls up by about 200K this morning, but our forecast takes into account the likelihood that the initial reading will be revised up. In the five years through 2014, the first estimate of November payrolls was revised up by an average of 73K by the time o f the third estimate. Our forecast for today, therefore, is consistent with our view that the underlying trend in payrolls is 250K-plus. That's the message of the very low level of jobless claims, and the strength of all surveys of hiring, with the exception of the depressed ISM manufacturing employment index. Manufacturing accounts for only 9% of payrolls, though, so this just doesn't matter.
LatAm assets and currencies enjoyed a good start to the week, following the agreement between the U.S. and China to pause the trade war.
Last week's final barrage of data showed that EZ headline inflation rose slightly last month, by 0.1 percentage points to 1.5%, driven mainly by increases in the unprocessed food energy components.
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.
Investors focussed last week on Chair Powell's semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony, but he said nothing much new.
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.
Brazil is now paying the price of President Rousseff's first term, which was characterized by unaffordable expansionary policies. As a result, inflation is now trending higher, forcing the BCB to tighten at a more aggressive pace than initially intended--or expected by investors--depressing business and investment confidence.
Brexit talks have hit an impasse over the Irish border. The Republic of Ireland will veto any deal that creates a hard border with Northern Ireland. This means that Northern Ireland must remain in the EU's customs union.
If our composite index of businesses' hiring plans could speak, it would say: "Told you payrolls were going to go nuts at the end of the year."
In one line: Still stuck at a depressed level.
In one line: Still depressed by deflation in energy prices; the core looks robust.
In one line: A stable headline with resilience in services and depressed manufacturing
In one line: Weakness in imports lifted the surplus; ZEW is still depressed.
The FOMC minutes showed both sides of the hike debate are digging in their heels. As the doves are a majority--rates haven't been hiked--the tone of the minutes is, well, a bit do vish. But don't let that detract from the key point that, "Most participants continued to anticipate that, based on their assessment of current economic conditions and their outlook for economic activity, the labor market, and inflation, the conditions for policy firming had been met or would likely be met by the end of the year." Confidence in this view has diminished among "some" participants, however, worried about the impact of the strong dollar, falling stock prices and weaker growth in China on U.S. net exports and inflation.
Job losses in the over-60 group pull Korea's unemployment rate higher in December. Japanese M2 growth holds steady in December. Still no clear signs of a recovery in machine tool orders in Japan.
In one line: Still depressed by new testing procedures.
In one line: Still essentially flat, but the impending fall in mortgage rates will help.
In one line: Indicative of confidence recovering, if the Withdrawal Agreement is passed quickly.
In one line: Still excessively depressed by political uncertainty.
In one line: Depressed by its exclusion of Black Friday this year.
In one line: Depressed by the GM strike, but the underlying picture is grim too, and still deteriorating.
In one line: Depressed, but not knocked out, by Brexit uncertainty.
As it became clear that Donald Trump would beat Hillary Clinton to win the U.S. presidency, EM currencies came under severe pressure, fearing his economic and immigration policies. Some of the initial pressure is easing as markets digest the news and following Mr. Trump's conciliatory tone in his victory speech. But the proposals have been made and the MXN and other key LatAm assets likely will remain very stressed in the near term.
Eurozone investors will be looking anxiously across the pond overnight as the results of U.S. elections come in. Our assumption is that Hillary Clinton will be elected president and that risk assets will celebrate accordingly today.
Growth momentum in Mexico has improved marginally over the last few months after the soft patch during the first quarter, with business and households gaining confidence in the economic recovery. But the upswing has been rather modest, due to the volatility in global financial markets and the challenging external environment. The outlook for the global economy has deteriorated over recent months due to China's problems, and commodity prices remain under pressure. All these factors are now weighing on investors' confidence and hurting EM across asset classes.
The point when businesses and households can breathe a sigh of relief about Brexit looks set to be delayed again this week.
Make no mistake, business investment has been depressed by Brexit uncertainty over the last year.
In our recent Monitors, we stressed that some leading indicators in Brazil, particularly business and consumer confidence, are still pointing to a gradual economic recovery.
German factory orders struggled in the second quarter. New orders were unchanged month-to-month in May, a poor headline following the revised 1.9% plunge in April. The year-over-year rate rose to -0.2%, from a revised -0.4% in April. The month-to-month rate was depressed by a big fall in domestic orders, which offset a rise in export orders.
If the Chancellor is true to his word, Wednesday's Budget will be a pedestrian affair with few major policy changes designed to prevent the economy from slowing this year. In an article in The Sunday Times, Philip Hammond asserted that "we cannot take our foot off the pedal" in the mission to eliminate the budget deficit by the end of the next parliament.
The NFIB survey of small businesses today will show that July hiring intentions jumped by four points to +19, the highest level since November 2006. The NFIB survey has been running since 1973, and the hiring intentions index has never been sustained above 20.
Economists failed to foresee the U.K.'s growth spurt in 2013 partly because they underestimated the positive impact of the Funding for Lending Scheme, launched in mid-2012. In fact, the FLS was so successful at stimulating mortgage lending that it had to be "refocussed" to apply solely to business lending in January 2014.
The sharp fall in markets' expectations for Bank Rate over the last month has partly reflected the perceived increase in the chance of a no-deal Brexit. Betting markets are pricing-in around a 30% chance of a no-deal departure before the end of this year, up from 10% shortly after the first Brexit deadline was missed.
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.
Investors with long sterling positions should not pin their hopes on Friday's GDP report to reverse some of the losses endured over the last week.
LatAm assets have done well in recent weeks on the back of upbeat investor risk sentiment, low volatility in developed markets and a relatively benign USD. A less confrontational approach from the U.S. administration to trade policy has helped too.
China's FX reserves rose to $3119B in November from $3109B in October. But the increase is explained by simultaneous yen, euro and sterling strength, which raises the dollar value of assets denominated in these currencies.
The Prime Minister achieved a rare victory yesterday, when the Commons passed the government-backed Brady amendment.
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.
We didn't believe the first estimate of Q1 GDP growth, 0.7%, and we won't believe today's second estimate, either. The data are riddled with distortions, most notably the long-standing problem of residual seasonality, which depressed the number by about one percentage point.
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.
The IFO survey released yesterday provides further evidence that the cyclical recovery in Germany's economy continued in the current quarter. The headline business climate index rose to 107.9 in March from 106.8 in February, lifted by increases in both the current assessments and expectations index.
Analysing the EZ sentiment data at the moment is a bit like a surveyor being called out to assess the damage on a property after a flood.
Mark Carney's assertion that "now is not yet the time to raise rates" fell on deaf ears last week. Markets are pricing-in a 20% chance that the MPC will increase Bank Rate at the next meeting on August 3, up from 10% just after the MPC's meeting on June 15, when three members voted to hike rates.
The impasse between Greece and its creditors has roiled Eurozone bond markets, but the ECB is likely ready to restore calm, if necessary. We think a further widening of short-term interest rate spreads would especially worry the central bank, as it would represent a challenge to forward guidance. For now, spreads remain well below the average since the birth of the Eurozone, even after the latest increase.
The tumultuous political and economic crises in Brazil continue to feed off each other, grabbing most of the LatAm headlines. Sentiment will remain depressed, and volatility and uncertainty will persist, hampering any real signs of stabilization in the near-term. The Pacific Alliance countries, by contrast, managed to grow at relatively solid rates during the first half of this year, after absorbing the hit from falling commodity prices.
Brazilian financial assets lately appear to be responding only to developments in the presidential election race and external jitters.
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.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's testimony this week reinforced our view that the first U.S. rate hike will be in June. The transition to higher U.S. rates will require an unpleasant adjustment in asset prices in some LatAm countries.
The tax plan released by the administration yesterday was so thoroughly leaked that it contained no real surprises. The border adjustment tax is dead -- not that we thought it would have passed the Senate in any event -- and the centerpiece is a proposed cut in the corporate income tax rate to 15% from 35%.
Monitoring bond markets in the Eurozone has been like watching paint dry this year. Yields across fixed income markets in the euro area were already low going into QE, but they have been absolutely crushed as asset purchases began in February.
We have argued for some time that the hourly earnings data, which take no account of changes in the mix of employment by industry or occupation, have been depressed over the past year by the relatively rapid growth of low-paid jobs.
The decline in China's unofficial PMI, which has dropped to a six-year low, signals increasing troubles ahead for U.S. manufacturers selling into China, and U.S. businesses operating in China. This does not mean, though, that the U.S. ISM will immediately fall as low as the Caixin/Markit China index appears to suggest in the next couple of months. Our first chart shows that in recent years the U.S. manufacturing ISM has tended hugely to outperform China's PMI from late spring to late fall, thanks to flawed seasonals.
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%.
Fed Chair Yellen is a committed believer in the orthodox idea that inflation is largely a cost-push phenomenon, and that the most important cost, by far, is labor. So in order to predict what Dr. Yellen might say about the outlook for Fed policy in her Testimony today--beyond the language of the January FOMC statement--we have to take a view on her assessment of the state of the labor market.
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."
The upward trend in German inflation stalled temporarily in August, with an unchanged 0.4% year-over-year reading in August. A dip in core inflation likely offset a continued increase in energy price inflation. The detailed final report next month will give the full story, but state data suggest that the core rate was depressed by a dip in price increases of household appliances, restaurant services, as well as "other goods and services."
The sell-off in risky assets intensified while we were away, driven by China's decision to loosen its grip on the currency, and looming rate hikes in the U.S. The Chinese move partly shows, we think, the PBoC is uncomfortable pegging to a strengthening dollar amid the unwinding investment boom and weakness in manufacturing.
Mr. Draghi gave one of his most dovish performances to date yesterday. The central bank kept its main interest rates and the pace of QE unchanged, but reiterated that risks to growth and inflation are tilted to the downside. The president noted further that the existing policies will be "reexamined" in December in light of updated staff projections. It is difficult to see how the downbeat assessment on the economy will change materially from now until December, indicating that further stimulus is likely.
We think of recessions usually as processes; namely, the unwinding of private sector financial imbalances.
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.
Weakness in risk assets turned into panic yesterday with the Eurostoxx falling over 6%, taking the accumulated decline to 19% since the beginning of August, and volatility hitting a three-year high. Market crashes of this kind are usually followed by a period of violent ups and downs, and we expect volatile trading in coming weeks. Following an extended bull market in risk assets, the key question investors will be asking is whether the economic cycle is turning.
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.
Survey data in Germany continue to tell an upbeat story on the economy. The IFO business climate index rose to 109.0 in November from 108.2 in October, lifted by gains in both the expectations and current assessment indexes. The IFO tends to be slightly over-optimistic on GDP growth, but our first chart shows that the survey points to upside risks in the fourth quarter.
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 bad news on economic activity keeps coming for Brazil. The formal payroll employment report-- CAGED--for December was very weak, with 120K net jobs eliminated, compared to a 40K net destruction in December 2014, according to our seasonal adjustment. The severe downturn has translated into huge job losses. The economy eliminated 1.5 million jobs last year, compared to 152K gains in 2014. Last year's job destruction was the worst since the data series started in 1992. The payroll losses have been broad-based, but manufacturing has been hit very hard, with 606K jobs eliminated, followed by civil construction and services. Since the end of 2014, the crisis has hit one sector after another.
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.
By the close on Friday, the initial reaction in U.S. markets to the U.K. Brexit vote could be characterized as a bad day at the office, but nothing worse. Not a meltdown, not a catastrophe, no exposure of suddenly dangerous fault lines.That's not to say all danger has passed, but the first hurdle has been overcome.
Friday's PMIs were supposed to provide the first reliable piece of evidence of the coronavirus on euro area businesses, but they didn't. Instead, they left economists dazed, confused and scrambling for a suitable narrative.
This week's main economic data from Korea--the last batch before the BoK meets on the 16th--missed consensus expectations, further fuelling speculation that it will cut rates for a second time, after pausing in August.
The July trade deficit likely fell significantly further than the consensus forecast for a dip to $42.2B from $43.8B in June, despite the sharp drop in the ISM manufacturing export orders index. Our optimism is not just wishful thinking on our p art; our forecast is based on the BEA's new advance trade report. These data passed unnoticed in the markets and the media. The July report, released August 28, wasn't even listed on Bloomberg's U.S. calendar, which does manage to find space for such useless indicators as the Challenger job cut survey and Kansas City Fed manufacturing index. Baffling.
Mixed comments last week by members of the governing council raised doubts over the ECB's resolve to add further stimulus next month. But the message from senior figures and Mr. Draghi remains that the Central Bank intends to "re-assess" its monetary policy tools in December. Our main reading of last month's meeting is that Mr. Draghi effectively pre-committed to further easing. This raises downside risks in the event of no action, but the President normally doesn't disappoint the market in these instances.
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.
We have focussed on the role of the trade war in depressing U.S. stock prices in recent months, arguing that the concomitant uncertainty, disruptions to supply chains, increases in input costs and, more recently, the drop in Chinese demand for U.S. imports, are the key factor driving investors to the exits.
President Trump's volatile diplomatic style is one of the biggest risks facing the Mexican economy in the near term, as we have discussed in previous Monitors.
Yesterday's economic numbers in the Eurozone were mixed, but we are inclined to see them through rose-tinted glasses.
News that the U.K.'s departure from the E.U. has been delayed by six months, unless MPs ratify the existing deal sooner, appears to have done little to revive confidence among businesses.
The news that the seasonal adjustments in the GDP numbers are even less reliable than previously thought means the Fed likely will put even greater emphasis on the labor market when pondering when to begin raising rates. A cost-push view of the inflation process necessarily centers on the labor data, but every FOMC statement begins with an assessment of the overall pace of growth.
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.
Barely a day passes now without an email asking about "evidence" that the U.S. economy is slowing or even heading into recession. The usual factors cited are the elevated headline inventory-to-sales ratio, weak manufacturing activity, slowing earnings growth and the hit from weaker growth in China. We addressed these specific issues in the Monitor last week, on the 23rd--you can download it from our website--but the alternative approach to the end-of-the-world-is-nigh view is via the labor market.
FOMC members in fleeces took to the airwaves en masse on Friday morning from Jackson Hole, but most said pretty much what you'd expect them to say. Arch-hawks Loretta Mester and no-quite-so-hawkish Jim Bullard strongly suggested that they think the time to raise rates is very near, while super-dove Naryana Kocherlakota said he doesn't regard a near-term hike as "appropriate". No surprises there.
Eurozone politicians are likely scrambling for a last gasp return to negotiations before the Greek bailout program ends at the end of today. But progress will likely be limited until we have the result of the planned Greek referendum on Sunday. Voters will be asked essentially on whether they agree with the proposal presented by the institutions. The government will campaign for a "no," but a "yes" looks more likely, based on polls that Greeks want to stay in the Eurozone.
China will have to issue a lot of government debt in the next few years. The government will need to continue migrating to its balance sheet, all the debt that should have been registered there in the first place. This will mean a rapid expansion of liabilities, but if handled correctly, the government will also gain valuable assets in the process.
We have witnessed a dramatic shift in just a few weeks in perceptions of Mexico as an investment destination.
The deadline for registering to vote in the general election passed on Tuesday, with a record 660K people registering on the final day.
Economic sentiment in the Eurozone's largest economy stayed solid at the start of the fourth quarter, despite subdued manufacturing and poor investor sentiment. The headline IFO business climate index fell slightly to 108.2 in October from 108.5 in September, due to a fall in the current assessment index. The expectations index rose, though, to 103.8 from 103.5 last month pointing to a resilient outlook for businesses and solid GDP growth in coming quarters.
We argued in the Monitor yesterday that the very low and declining level of jobless claims is a good indicator that businesses were not much bothered by the slowdown in the pace of economic growth in the first quarter. The numbers also help illustrate another key point when thinking about the current state of the economy and, in particular, the rollover in the oil business.
In the financial crisis, a squeeze in short-term dollar markets forced banks to sell assets, which were then exposed as soured.
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.
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.
Survey data in Germany showed few signs of picking up from their depressed level at the start of Q4.
Judging by the survey data, German business sentiment remained depressed at the start of the year.
While businesses--and farmers--fret over the damage already wrought by the trade war with China and the further pain to come, consumers are remarkably happy.
We aren't convinced by the idea that consumers' confidence will be depressed as a direct result of the rollover in most of the regular surveys of business sentiment and activity.
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 long period of extremely accommodative U.S. monetary policy generated sizable capital inflows and asset price appreciation in EM countries.
We have to hand it to Italy's politicians. In an economy with a current account surplus of 3% of GDP, a nearly balanced net foreign asset position and with the majority of government debt held by domestic investors, the leading parties have managed to prompt markets to flatten the yield curve via a jump in shortterm interest rates.
Britain still has nothing to show for sterling's depreciation, even though nearly two years have passed since markets started to price-in Brexit risk, driving the currency lower.
Pantheon Macroeconomics Founder Ian Shepherdson discusses Fed policy. He speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance."
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses the dollar's impact on inflation and markets "overdoing" inflation and recession fears. He speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance."
Ian Shepherdson, founder at Pantheon Macroeconomics Ltd., discusses the Federal Reserve's rate hike pattern and how it can provide a summer surprise to markets. He speaks with Bloomberg's Mark Barton on "Bloomberg Surveillance."
Ian Shepherdson, Pantheon Macroeconomics chief economist, discusses the economic impact of falling oil prices with Bloomberg's Joe Weisenthal and Scarlet Fu
Freya Beamish, Chief Asia economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses the Chinese government's ability to provide economic stimulus. She speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance."
Freya Beamish, chief Asia economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses the lack of inflation in Asia, PBOC policy and China's economy.
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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.
EU-Japan free trade: Japan and the European Union agreed on an outline for a massive trade deal this week that will rival the size of NAFTA, the free trade accord that the United States has with Canada and Mexico, currently the largest one in the world. Claus Vistesen, the chief eurozone economist with Pantheon Macroeconomics, assesses what's in the agreement and why it matters (19mins 10 secs).
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Freya Beamish, chief Asia economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses U.S.-China trade talks and the domestic state of the Chinese economy. She speaks with Francine Lacqua on Tom Keene on "Bloomberg Surveillance."
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses Italy's budget and deficit and the potential for the nation to leave the Eurozone.
Ian Shepherdson, founder at Pantheon Economics, discusses rising U.S. inflation expectations and his outlook for the Federal Reserve in response to President-Elect Donald Trump's economic plan. He speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance."
Ian Shepherdson, Pantheon Macroeconomics chief economist, discusses his outlook on the U.S. economy and the long-lasting bull market.
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses the impact of recent market volatility and fiscal reform in the U.S.
Freya Beamish, chief Asia economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses the Chinese economy.
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses the possibility of 4 interest rate hikes in 2017
Pantheon Macroeconomics Chief Eurozone economist Claus Vistesen discusses the latest survey data and political developments in the Eurozone economy.
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses the outlook for U.S. inflation and labor market with Bloomberg's Joe Weisenthal and Julia Chatterley on "What'd You Miss?"
Ian Shepherdson, founder and chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses low job growth, the continuing recovery from the financial crisis and the state of the U.S. economy. He speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance."
Claus Vistesen, Pantheon Macroeconomics chief euro zone economist, discusses the outlook for the euro-zone economy in 2018 with Bloomberg's Scarlet Fu and Joe Weisenthal on "What'd You Miss?"
Claus Vistesen, Pantheon Macroeconomics chief euro zone economist, discusses how volatility has impacted the bond market.
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, discusses the impact of improving wage growth and inflation on the Federal Reserve ahead of today's February jobs report. He speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance."
Pantheon Macroeconomics Founder Ian Shepherdson discusses the price of oil, the U.S. economy and the Greek crisis. He speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance."
Ian Shepherdson, Pantheon Macroeconomics founder and chief economist, discusses the outlook for the global economy with Bloomberg's Julie Hyman, Joe Weisenthal and Scarlet Fu on "What'd You Miss?"
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Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Retail Sales in February
Claus Vistesen on Eurozone Business Lending
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on U.S. hiring
Are there any signs that the U.S. tax cuts and/or regulatory relaxation are stimulating increased non-residential fixed investment?
Senior International Economist Andres Abadia on Latam currency risks.
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson comments on the Fed Monetary Policy Meeting in March
Ian Shepherdson discussing the FOMC
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on Bloomberg Surveillance
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on the Italian Referendum result
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on Greece
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on Consumer Price Index, June
Why is the EZ current account surplus rising and net exports falling at the same time?
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. GDP
Why is the EZ current account surplus rising and net exports falling at the same time?
Freya Beamish produces the Asia service at Pantheon. She has several years of experience in covering the global economy, with a particular focus on China, Japan and Korea. Previously, she worked at Lombard Street Research (now TS Lombard), where she delivered research on Asia and the Global economy for over five years, latterly as the manager of the Macroeconomics group.
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