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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.
A 45bp rise in long-term interest rates--the increase between mid-August and last week's peak--ought to depress stock prices, other things equal.
It's probably too soon to expect to see a meaningful reaction in the NFIB small business survey to the drop in stock prices, but it likely is coming, and a hit in today's March report can't be ruled out entirely.
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.
If you want to know what's going to happen to the real economy over, say, the next year, don't look to the stock market for reliable clues. The relationship between swings in stock prices over single quarters and GDP growth over the following year is nonexistent, as our next chart shows.
People don't like to see the value of their portfolios decline, and it is just a matter of time before the benchmark measures of consumer sentiment drop in response to the 7% fall in the S&P since mid-August. Sometimes, movements in stock prices don't affect the sentiment numbers immediately, especially if the market moves gradually. But the drop in the market in August was rapid and dramatic, and gripped the national media.
Rising mortgage rates appear to have triggered the start, perhaps, of a tightening in lending standards, even before Treasury yields spiked this month and stock prices fell.
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.
A flawed theory still is circulating that the economy might outperform over the next two quarters because firms will stockpile goods due to the risk of a no-deal Brexit.
Whatever happened to consumers' sentiment in March, the level of University of Michigan's index will be very high, relative to its long-term average.
Fed Chair Powell's semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony yesterday broke no new ground, largely repeating the message of the January 30 press conference.
Convention dictates that we lead with yesterday's Fed meeting, but it's hard to argue that it really deserves top billing.
Dire warnings that the plunge in s tock prices would depress consumers' confidence and spending have not come to pass. It's too soon to draw a definitive conclusion--the S&P hit its low as recently as the 11th--but peoples' end-February brokerage statements are on track to look less horrific than the end-January numbers, provided the market doesn't swoon again over the next few days.
The FOMC did the minimum expected of it yesterday, raising rates by 25bp--with a 20bp increase in IOER--and dropping one of its dots for 2019.
In our Monitor of January 10, we argued that the market turmoil in Q4 was largely driven by the U.S.- China trade war, and that a resolution--which we expect by the spring, at the latest--would trigger a substantial easing of financial conditions.
The equity market this year has been a story of two halves. Hopes of a sustainable economic recovery pushed the benchmark Eurozone equity index to an 7.5% increase in the first six months of the year.
Yesterday's announcement that the administration plans to imposes tariffs worth about $60B per year -- thatìs 0.3% of GDP -- on an array of imports of consumer goods from China is a serious escalation.
The ECB will receive most of the credit for the recent gain in stock markets, but the main leading indicator for the stock market, excess liquidity, was already turning up late last year. With the MSCI EU ex-UK up 21%, in euro terms, since October, a lot is already priced in, but in the medium term the outlook is upbeat, and we look for further gains this year.
Momentum in the euro area's money supply slowed last month. M3 growth dipped to 4.7% year-over-year in February, from a downwardly-revised 4.8% in January. The headline was mainly constrained by the broad money components. The stock of repurchase agreements slumped 24.3% year-over-year and growth in money market fund shares also slowed sharply.
The biggest single problem for the stock market is the president.
Sometime very soon, likely in the second quarter of this year, the stock of net housing wealth will exceed the $13.1T peak recorded before the crash, in the fourth quarter of 2005. At the post-crash low, in the first quarter of 2009, net housing equity had fallen by 53%, to just $6.2T. The recovery began in earnest in 2012, and over the past year net housing wealth has been rising at a steady pace just north of 10%. With housing demand rising, credit conditions easing and inventory still very tight, we have to expect home prices to keep rising at a rapid pace.
If the plunge in the stock market last week, and especially Friday, was a entirely a reaction to the slowdown in China and its perceived impact on other emerging economies, then it was an over-reaction. Exports to China account for just 0.7% of U.S. GDP; exports to all emerging markets account for 2.1%. So, even a 25% plunge in exports to these economies-- comparable to the meltdown seen as global trade collapsed after the financial crisis--would subtract only 0.5% from U.S. growth over a full year, gross.
LatAm currencies and stock markets have suffered badly in recent weeks, but Monday turned into a massacre with the MSCI stock index for the region falling close to 4%. Markets rebounded marginally yesterday, but remain substantially lower than their April-May peaks. Each economy has its own story, so the market hit has been uneven, but all have been battered as China's stock market has crashed. The downward spiral in commodity prices--oil hit almost a seven-year low on Monday--is making the economic and financial outlook even worse for LatAm.
The startling 5.5% drop in auto sales in March left sales at just 16.5M, well below the 17.4M average for the previous three months and the lowest level since February last year. A combination of the early Easter, which causes serious problems for the seasonal adjustments, and the lagged effect of the plunge in stock prices in January and February, likely explains much of the decline.
Today's consumer credit report for April likely will show that the stock of debt rose by about $15B, a bit below the recent trend. The monthly numbers are volatile, but the underlying trend rate of increase has eased over the past year-and-a-half, as our first chart shows. The slowdown has been concentrated in the non-revolving component, though the rate of growth of the stock of revolving credit--mostly credit cards--has dipped recently, perhaps because of weather effects and the late Easter.
The 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.
Strong real M1 growth suggests the cyclical recovery is in good shape. But recent economic data indicate GDP growth slowed in Q4, and survey evidence deteriorated in January. This slightly downbeat message, however, is a far cry from the horror story told by financial markets. The recent collapse in stock-to-bond returns extends the decline which began in Q2 last year, signalling the Eurozone is on the brink of recession.
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 rollover in bank lending to commercial and industrial companies probably is over. On the face of it, the slowdown has been alarming, with year-over-year growth in the stock of lending slowing to just 2.6% in April, from a sustained peak of more than 10% in the early part of last year.
A casual glance at our char t below, which shows the number of job openings from the JOLTS report, seems to fit our story that the slowdown in payrolls in April and May--perhaps triggered by the drop in stocks in January and February--will prove temporary. Job openings dipped, but have recovered and now stand very close to their cycle high.
Small business sentiment and activity, as reported by the NFIB survey, has recovered exactly half the drop triggered by the rollover in stock prices in the fourth quarter. This matters, because most people work at small firms, which are responsible for the vast bulk of net job growth.
The markets' favorite story of the moment, aside from the Fed, seems to be the idea that overstretched corporate finances are an accident waiting to happen. When the crunch comes, the unavoidable hit to the stock market and the corporate bond market will have dire consequences, limiting the Fed's scope to raise rates, regardless of what might be happening in the labor market. We don't buy this. At least, we don't buy the second part of the narrative; we have no problem with the idea the finances of the corporate sector are shaky.
Sentiment has been improving gradually in Mexico in recent weeks, reversing some of the severe deterioration immediately after the U.S. presidential election. Year-to-date, the MXN has risen 10.3% against the USD and the stock market is up by almost 8%. We think that less protectionist U.S. trade policy rhetoric than expected immediately after the election explains the turnaround.
The FTSE 100 has fallen by 4% over the last two weeks, exceeding the 1-to-3% declines in the main US, European and Japanese markets. The FTSE's latest drop builds on an underperformance which began in early 2014. The index has fallen by 10% since then--compared to rises of between 10% and 20% in the main overseas benchmarks--and has dropped by nearly 15% since its April 2015 peak. We doubt, however, that the collapse in U.K. equity prices signals impending economic misery. The economy is likely to struggle next year, but this will have little to do with the stock market's travails.
We need to take a closer look at the chance of a sustained rise in the labor participation rate, which is perhaps the single biggest risk to the idea that 2018 will be a good year for the stock market, with limited downside for Treasuries.
A sharp increase in unsecured borrowing has played a big role in supporting consumers' spending over the past year. The stock of unsecured credit, excluding student loans, increased by 8.2% year-over-year in September--the fastest growth since February 2006--boosting the funds available for households to spend by around 1%.
We are still annoyed, for want of a better word, by the May payroll numbers. Specifically, we're annoyed that we got it wrong, and we want to know why. Our initial thoughts centered on the idea that the plunge in the stock market in the first six weeks of the year hit business confidence and triggered a pause in hiring decisions, later reflected in the payroll numbers.
British firms have adopted a cautious mindset since the Brexit vote and are saving a huge share of their earnings, even though high profit margins make a strong case for investing more. Firms likely will run down their cash stockpiles when they become more confident about the medium-term economic outlook, potentially boosting GDP growth powerfully.
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson named Market Watch forecaster of the month for July
Chief US Economist Ian Shepherdson on Consumer Confidence figures for April
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen discussing the potential impact of the French Election Results on the Eurozone
Samuel Tombs on U.K. Manufacturing
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on the Italian Referendum result
It is becomingly increasingly clear that the trade war with China is hurting manufacturers in both countries.
The good news in today's March durable goods report is that a rebound in orders for Boeing aircraft means February's 3.0% drop in headline orders won't be repeated. The company reported orders for 69 aircraft in March, compared to just one in February.
When Fed Chair Powell said last week that the "surprise" weakness in the official retail sales numbers is "inconsistent with a significant amount of other data", we're guessing that he had in mind a couple of reports which will be updated today.
The tone of Fed Chair Powell's opening comments at the press conference yesterday was much more dovish than the statement, which did little more than most analysts expected.
The MPC held back last week from decisively signalling that interest rates would rise when it meets next, in May.
I need to ask your indulgence today, because the release of the durable goods and advance international trade reports coincides with my elder daughter's college graduation ceremony.
We're nudging down our estimate of Q2 GDP growth, due today, by 0.3 percentage points to 1.8%, in the wake of yesterday's array of data.
Today's FOMC announcement will be something of a non-event. Rates were never likely to rise immediately after December's hike, and the weakness of global equity markets means the chance of a further tightening today is zero.
The downshift in core PCE inflation this year has unnerved the Fed, along with the intensification of the trade war and slower global growth.
Our base-case forecast for the May core PCE deflator, due today, is a 0.17% increase, lifting the year-over-year rate by a tenth to 1.9%.
The MPC likely will vote unanimously to keep Bank Rate at 0.75% on Thursday.
Yesterday's data don't significantly change our view that first quarter GDP growth will be reported at only about 1%, but the foreign trade and consumer confidence numbers support our contention that the underlying trend in growth is rather stronger than that.
Korea's business survey index rose for a second straight month in March, to 75 from 73 in February, on our adjustment.
Brazil's current account deficit is stabilizing following an substantial narrowing since early 2015, thanks to the deep recession.
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.
Today brings a ton of data, as well as an appearance by Fed Chair Powell at the Economic Club of New York, in which we assume he will address the current state of the economy and the Fed's approach to policy.
Media reports suggest that the underlying trends in retailing--rising online sales, declining store sales and mall visits--continued unabated over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Recent consumer confidence numbers have been strong enough that we don't need to see any further increase. The expectations components of both the Michigan and Conference Board surveys are consistent with real spending growth of 21⁄2-to- 3%, which is about the best we can expect when real income growth, after tax, is trending at about 21⁄2%.
Net foreign trade made a positive contribution of 0.2 percentage points to GDP growth in the second quarter, matching the Q1 performance.
Difficult though it is to tear ourselves away from Britain's political and economic train-wreck, morbid fascination is no substitute for economic analysis. The key point here is that our case for stronger growth in the U.S. over the next year is not much changed by events in Europe.
The failure of House Republicans to support Speaker Ryan's healthcare bill has laid bare the splits within the Republican party. The fissures weren't hard to see even before last week's debacle but the equity market has appeared determined since November to believe that all the earnings-friendly elements of Mr. Trump's and Mr. Ryan's agendas would be implemented with the minimum of fuss.
The trade war with China is a macroeconomic event, whose implications for economic growth and inflation can be estimated and measured using straightforward standard macroeconomic tools and data.
Markets often greet the monthly international trade numbers with a shrug.
We have argued for some time that the revival in nonoil capex represents clear upside risk for GDP growth next year, but it's now time to make this our base case.
China's 2018 property market boomlet let out more air last month.
The level of new home sales is likely to hit new cycle highs over the next few months, with a decent chance that today's July report will show sales at their highest level since late 2007.
For now, we're happy with our base-case forecast that growth will be nearer 3% than 2% this year, and that most of the rise in core inflation this year will come as a result of unfavorable base effects, rather than a serious increase in the month-to-month trend.
The rate of increase of the financial services and insurance component of the PCE deflator has slowed from a recent peak of 5.8% in May 2014 to 3.3% in June this year. This matters, because it accounts for 8.4% of the core deflator, a much bigger weight than in the core CPI.
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.
We're breaking protocol this week by delivering our preview for Thursday's ECB meeting in today's Monitor.
The White House budget proposals, which Roll Call says will be released in limited form on March 14, will include forecasts of sustained real GDP growth in a 3-to-3.5% range, according to an array of recent press reports.
The trend rate of increase in private payrolls in the months before Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was about 240K per month.
We tend to keep a close eye on monetary policy initiatives in Japan, as the BOJ's fight to spur inflation in a rapidly ageing economy resembles the challenge faced by the ECB.
The remarkably strong existing home sales numbers in recent months, relative to the pending home sales index, are hard to explain. In January, total sales reached 5.69M, some 6% higher than the 5.35M implied by December's pending sales index. The gap between the series has widened in recent months, as our first chart shows, and we think the odds now favor a correction in today's February report.
A round of recent conversations with investors suggests to us that markets remain quite skeptical of the idea that the recent upturn in capital spending will be sustained.
This is the final U.S. Economic Monitor of 2017, a year which has seen the economy strengthen, the labor market tighten substantially, and the Fed raise rates three times, with zero deleterious effect on growth.
In recent years only one event has made a material difference to the growth path of the U.S. economy, namely, the plunge in oil prices which began in the summer of 2014. The ensuing collapse in capital spending in the mining sector and everything connected to it, pulled GDP growth down from 2½% in both 2014 and 2015 to just 1.6% in 2016.
On a trade-weighted basis, sterling has dropped by only 1.5% since the start of the month, but it is easy to envisage circumstances in which it would fall significantly further.
It's hard to read the minutes of the April 30/May 1 FOMC meeting as anything other than a statement of the Fed's intent to do nothing for some time yet.
The Eurozone's external surplus rebounded further over the summer.
Today's housing market data likely will look soft, but will probably not be representative of the underlying story, which remains quite positive.
The sluggishness of existing home sales in recent months, as exemplified by yesterday's report of a small dip in June, is due entirely to a sharp drop in the number of cash buyers.
The second estimate of GDP left the estimate of quarter-on-quarter growth unrevised at 0.3%, a trivial improvement on Q1's 0.2% gain.
In the years before the crash of 2008, if you wanted to know what was likely to happen to the pace of U.S. economic growth, all you needed to know was what happened to corporate bond yields a year earlier. The correlation between movements in BBB industrial yields--not spreads--and the changes in the rate of GDP growth, lagged by a year, was remarkably strong from 1994 through 2008, as our first chart shows. Roughly, a 50 basis point increase in yields could be expected to reduce the pace of year-over-year GDP growth--the second differential, in other words--by about 1.5 percentage points.
If we had known back in June 2014 that oil prices would drop to about $30, the collapse in capital spending in the oil sector would not have been a surprise. Spending on well-drilling, which accounts for about three quarters of oil capex, has dropped in line with the fall in prices, after a short lag, as our first chart shows. We think spending on equipment has tracked the fall in oil prices, too.
Whatever today's report tells us about existing home sales in January, the underlying state of housing demand right now is unclear. The sales numbers lag mortgage applications by a few months, as our first chart shows, so they're usually the best place to start if you're pondering the near-term outlook for sales. But the applications data right now are suffering from two separate distortions, one pushing the numbers up and the other pushing them down. Both distortions should fade by the late spring, but in they meantime we'd hesitate to say we have a good idea what's really happening to demand.
A very light week for U.S. data concludes today with four economic reports, which likely will be mixed, relative to the consensus forecasts. The recent run of clear upside surprises and robust-looking headline numbers is likely over, for the most part.
Fed Chair Yellen made it clear in last week's press conference that she is not convinced the increase in core inflation will persist: "I want to warn that there may be some transitory factors that are influencing [the rise in core inflation]... I see some of that is having to do with unusually high inflation readings in categories that tend to be quite volatile without very much significance for inflation over time.
The automotive sector accounts for 6.1% of total employment, and 4% of GDP, in the Eurozone.
Gilt yields have shot up over the last couple of months, despite ongoing bond purchases authorised by the MPC in August. Ten-year yields closed last week at 1.47%, in line with the average in the first half of 2016.
The levelling-off in the industrial surveys in recent months is reflected in the consumer sentiment numbers. Anything can happen in any given month, but we'd now be surprised to see sustained further gains in any of the regular monthly surveys.
China's Caixin manufacturing PMI doused hopes of turning over a January new leaf; it dropped to 49.7 in November, from 50.2 in December.
Oil prices have risen by about $20 per barrel since last fall.
We are fundamentally quite bullish on the housing market, given the 100bp drop in mortgage rates over the past six months and the continued strength of the labor market, but today's May new home sales report likely will be unexciting.
The 15% fall in the FTSE 100 since its May 2018 peak undoubtedly is an unwelcome development for the economy, but past experience suggests we shouldn't rush to revise down our forecasts for GDP growth.
China last week banned unlicensed micro-lending and put a ceiling on borrowing costs for the sector, in an effort to curtail the spiralling of consumer credit.
Over the past six months, payroll growth has averaged exactly 150K. Over the previous six months, the average increase was 230K. And in the six months to August 2015--a fairer comparison, because the fourth quarter numbers enjoy very favorable seasonals, flattering the data--payroll growth averaged 197K.
German manufacturing is in good shape, but probably is not as strong as implied by yesterday's surge in new orders. Factory orders jumped 5.2% month-to-month in December, rebounding strongly after a downwardly revised 3.6% fall in November. December's jump was the biggest monthly increase in two years, but it was flattered by a leap in bulk investment goods orders, mainly in the domestic market and other EZ economies.
Monday will see 5% tariffs going into effect on Mexican exports to the U.S.--which totalled about USD360B last year--unless President Trump steps back from the brink.
We argued in the Monitor yesterday that the NFIB survey's hiring intentions number is the best guide to the trend in payroll growth a few months ahead. But today's November NFIB report will bring no new information on job growth because the key labor market elements of the survey have already been released.
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.
Revisions to the first quarter productivity numbers, due today, likely will be trivial, given the minimal 0.1 percentage point downward revision to GDP growth reported last week.
We are not concerned by the very modest tightening in business lending standards reported in the Fed's quarterly survey of senior loan officers, published on Monday.
The jump in the Caixin services PMI in the past two months looks erratic, with holiday effects playing a role, though there could be more going on here.
Yesterday's news that the business activity index of the Markit/CIPS services survey fell again in January, to just 50.1--its lowest level since July 2016--has created a downbeat backdrop to the MPC meeting; the minutes and Q1 Inflation Report will be published on Thursday.
The only way to read the December NFIB survey and not be alarmed is to look at the headline, which fell by less than expected, and ignore the details.
It's probably happening a decade too late, but the EU is now moving in leaps and bounds to restructure the continent's weakest banks. Yesterday, the Monte dei Paschi saga reached an interim conclusion when the Commission agreed to allow the Italian government to take a 70% stake in the ailing lender.
No single measure of labor demand is always a reliable leading indicator of the official payroll numbers, which is why we track an array of private and official measures.
Friday's GDP report should show that the economy narrowly avoided contracting in Q2.
We're looking forward to today's April NFIB survey of activity and sentiment in the small business sector with some trepidation.
India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, yesterday held his last cabinet meeting before the general election.
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.
The Fed today will do nothing to rates and won't materially change the language of the post-meeting statement.
The recent slowdown in labour cash earnings growth in Japan halted in September.
The Chancellor's Budget today looks set to prioritise retaining scope to loosen policy if the economy struggles in future, rather than reducing the near-term fiscal tightening. In November, the OBR predicted that cyclically-adjusted borrowing would fall to 0.8% of GDP in 2019/20, comfortably below the 2% limit stipulated by the Chancellor's new fiscal rules.
Economic data have yielded the limelight in recent months to Brexit news and, alas, we doubt that February's GDP data, released on Wednesday, will reclaim investors' attention.
China's export data shows little impact from trade tensions so far.
If you need more evidence that the U.S. economy is bifurcating, look at the spread between the ISM non- manufacturing and manufacturing indexes, which has risen to 3.5 points, the widest gap since September 2016.
The recovery in small business sentiment since the fourth quarter rollover has been extremely modest, so far.
Odds-on, the consensus forecast for May's GDP report, released on Wednesday, will miss the mark.
One of the main reasons we expect the Reserve Bank of India to roll back at least one of this year's rate cuts before the end of the year is the likely further rise in food inflation.
We read after the employment report that the drop in the unemployment rate was somehow not significant, because it was due in p art to a reported 41K drop in the size of the labor force, completing a 404K cumulative contraction over the three months to August. In our view, though, analysts need to take a broader approach to the picture painted by the household survey, which is much more volatile and less reliable than the payroll survey over short periods.
The record 1,178-point drop in the Dow will garner all the headlines today, but a sense of perspetive is in order, despite the chaos. The 113-point, or 4.1%, fall in the S&P 500 was very startling, but it merely returned the index to its early December level; it has given up the gains only of the past nine weeks.
Growth in the broad money supply slowed further in September, providing more evidence that the economy is losing momentum.
The biggest surprise in the revisions to first quarter GDP growth, released yesterday, was in the core PCE deflator.
Mexico's financial markets and risk metrics plunged early this week, following the AMLO government's decision to cancel the construction of the new airport in Mexico City, after a public consultation held in the previous four days.
The clear message from the fourth quarter's national accounts, released last week, is that the economic recovery rests on unsustainable foundations. The U.K. has returned to bad habits and is financing expenditure today by borrowing. As this undermines future spending, it is only a matter of time before the U.K.'s recovery loses steam.
The recovery in the Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI to 53.1 in November, from 51.1 in October, propelled it well above the consensus, and the equivalent reading for the Eurozone, 51.8, for only the second time in the last 19 months.
December's money and credit figures suggest that households are in no fit state to step up and drive the economy forwards this year.
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.
The chance of a self-inflicted, unnecessary weakening in the economy this year, and perhaps even a recession, has increased markedly in the wake of the president's announcement on Friday that tariffs will be applied to all imports from Mexico, from June 10.
Today brings an array of economic data, including the jobless claims report, brought forward because July 4 falls on Thursday.
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.
In the wake of the robust July data and the upward revisions to June, real personal consumption--which accounts for 69% of GDP--appears set to rise by at least 3% in the third quarter, and 3.5% is within reach. To reach 4%, though, spending would have to rise by 0.3% in both August and September, and that will be a real struggle given July's already-elevated auto sales and, especially, overstretched spending on utility energy.
February's money and credit figures supported recent labour market and retail sales data suggesting that consumers are increasingly financially strained. Households' broad money holdings increased by just 0.2% month-to-month in February, half the average pace of the previous six months.
March payrolls were constrained by both the impact of colder and snowier weather than usual in the survey week, and a correction in the construction and retail components, which were unsustainably strong in February.
The economy would have ground to a halt last year had households not reduced their saving rate sharply.
Global economic conditions have been improving for LatAm over recent quarters.
Yesterday's EZ consumers' spending data were mixed. Retail sales in the euro area fell by 0.3% month-to-month in May, extending the slide from a revised 0.1% dip in April.
Headwinds from global growth fears have weighed on Eurozone equities in recent months, leaving the benchmark MSCI EU ex-UK index with a paltry year-to-date return ex-dividends of 1.7%. We think bravery will be rewarded, though, and see strong performance in the next six months. Equities in Europe do best when excess liquidity --M1 growth in excess of inflation and nominal GDP growth--is high.
With only three weeks to go until the release of the initial official estimate of first quarter GDP, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow measure shows growth at just 0.4%. Our own estimate, which includes our subjective forecasts for the missing data--the Atlanta Fed's measure is entirely model-based--is a bit higher, at 1%, and both measures could easily be revised significantly.
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.
Economic data released in recent weeks underscore that Brazil emerged from recession in Q1, but the recovery is fragile and further rate cuts are badly needed. The political crisis has damaged the reform agenda, and political uncertainty lingers.
Just how low would sterling go in the event of a no-deal Brexit? When Reuters last surveyed economists at the start of June, the consensus was that sterling would settle between $1.15 and $1.20 and fall to parity against the euro within one month after an acrimonious separation on October 31.
The Caixin manufacturing headline was unremarkable, but the input price index signals that PPI inflation is set to rise again in May, to 4.0%-plus, from 3.4% in April.
The downbeat tone of Markit's May manufacturing survey shouldn't come as a surprise, given the weak global backdrop and the inevitable fading of the boost to output from Brexit preparations.
The President's threat to impose tariffs on imported Chinese consumer goods on September 1 might yet come to nothing.
We very much doubt that Fed Chair Powell dramatically changed his position last week because President Trump repeatedly, and publicly, berated him and the idea of further increases in interest rates.
The U.K.'s balance of payments leaves little room for doubt that sterling would sink like a stone in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Judging by conversations we have had with investors since October, the idea that the Fed will be willing to let inflation overshoot the 2% target for a time has become received wisdom in the markets.
On the face of it, the latest GDP data look awful. December's 0.4% month-to-month fall in GDP closed a poor Q4, in which quar ter-on-quarter growth slowed to 0.2%, from 0.6% in Q3.
We're very interested in the detail of today's January NFIB survey; the headline index, not so much.
It's hard to find anything to dislike in the February employment report.
Q2's GDP figures create a terrible first impression, but a closer look suggests that the risk of a recession remains very low.
The sluggishness of consumers' spending and business investment in the first quarter means that hopes of a headline GDP print close to 2% rely in part on the noisier components of the economy, namely, inventories and foreign trade.
At the time of writing, Mr. Trump reportedly is finalising plans to impose tariffs of up to 25% on a further $200B of imports from China.
We fully expect to learn today that import prices rose in March for the first time since June last year. Our forecast for a 1% increase is in line with the consensus, but the margin of error is probably about plus or minus half a percent, and an increase of more than 1.2% would be the biggest in a single month in four years. Most, if not all, of the jump will be due to the rebound in oil prices.
Another day, another downbeat survey. The British Chamber of Commerce's comprehensive and long-running Quarterly Economic Survey was published yesterday, and it added to evidence of a Q1 slowdown.
Mrs. May looks set to lose the second "meaningful vote" on the Withdrawal Agreement-- WA--today, whether she decides on a straightforward vote or one asking MPs to b ack it if some hypothetical concessions are achieved.
The reported rebound in January retail sales was welcome, but the overshoot to consensus was matched, more or less, by the unexpected downward revisions to the December numbers.
It is by now a familiar story that the Eurozone has become a supplier of liquidity to the global economy in the wake of the sovereign debt crisis.
The MPC's meeting on Thursday looks set to be a perfunctory affair. Signs that the economy has lost momentum this year, alongside downward surprises from CPI inflation in January and wage growth in December, mean the Committee won't give the idea of hiking rates a moment's thought.
In the olden days, by which we mean the 15 years or so leading up to the financial crisis, a 100bp rise in long yields would be enough to slow GDP growth by about three percentage points, other things equal, after a lag of about one year.
We expect Greece to do what it needs to do by Wednesday to secure its third bailout, and, judging by her speech in Cleveland last Friday, so does the Fed Chair. It's always risky to assume blithely that European politicians will do the right thing in the end, and they seem absolutely determined to humiliate Greece before writing the checks, but a completed deal is the most likely outcome.
GDP growth in Japan surprised to the upside in the second quarter, although the preliminary headline arguably flattered the economy's actual performance.
The key labor market numbers from the monthly NFIB survey of small businesses are released ahead of the main report, due today.
The headline March retail sales numbers probably will look horrible, thanks to the unexpected drop in auto sales reported by the manufacturers earlier this month. Their unit sales data don't always move exactly in line with the dollar value numbers in the retail sales report, as our first chart shows, but it's hard to imagine anything other than a clear decline today.
Uncertainty about the U.S. economic and political outlook, following Donald Trump's presidential win, likely will cast a long shadow over EM in general and LatAm in particular. On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump argued for tearing up NAFTA and building a border wall.
The undershoot in the April core CPI wasn't a huge surprise to us; the downside risk we set out in yesterday's Monitor duly materialized, with used car prices dropping by a hefty 1.6% month-to-month, subtracting 0.05% from the core index.
China's official manufacturing PMI implies a modest gain in momentum in Q2, at 51.4, compared with 51.0 on average in Q1.
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.
Core CPI inflation has been 2.1-to-2.2% year-over- year for the past seven months, a remarkably stable run which likely will persist for a few more months.
The consensus view that industrial production rose by a mere 0.1% month-to-month in August looks far too low; we expect today's report to reveal a jump of about 1%.
The rate of inventory-building regularly is a major influence on GDP growth, but often is overlooked by analysts. Much slower inventory accumulation than in 2014 was the key source of downside surprise to the 2015 consensus GDP growth forecast, and we think inventories likely will be a sustained drag on GDP growth this year too.
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.
Colombians have rejected the peace deal with FARC guerrillas to end 52 years of war. The referendum saw relatively poor turnout--almost two thirds of voters abstained--but delivered 50.2% votes against the deal.
We'd be surprised to see any serious shift in the tone of Fed Chair Powell's semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony today compared to the FOMC statement and press conference just three weeks ago.
Payroll growth has slowed, no matter how you slice and dice the numbers.
The economy looks to be in better shape following May's GDP report than widely feared.
April's GDP data give a grim firs t impression, though the details provide reassurance that the economy isn't on the cusp of a recession.
We already know that the key labor market numbers in today's May NFIB survey are strong.
The rundown of the Fed's balance sheet has proceeded in line with the plans laid out b ack in June 2017.
The next few months, perhaps the whole of the first quarter, are likely to see a clear split in the U.S. economic data, with numbers from the consumer side of the economy looking much better than the industrial numbers.
In the wake of the payroll report on Friday, several readers sent us a version of the chart reproduced below, showing the rates of growth of S&P earnings and private sector payrolls. The message from the chart appears to be that the current trend in payroll growth, a bit over 200K per month cannot be sustained.
The average FICO credit score for successful mortgage applicants has risen in each of the past four months.
Investors are busily fitting narratives to the sudden reversal in global bond markets. We think a correction was long overdue, but a combination of three factors provides a plausible rationale for the rout, from an EZ perspective.
The medium-term trend in the volume of mortgage applications turned up in early 2015, but progress has not been smooth. The trend in the MBA's purchase applications index has risen by about 40% from its late 2014 low, but the increase has been characterized by short bursts of rapid gains followed by periods of stability.
To paraphrase recent correspondence: "How can you possibly believe, given the terrible run of economic data and the turmoil in the markets, that the Fed will raise rates in March/June/at all this year?" Well, to state the obvious, if markets are in anything like their current state at the time of the eight Fed meetings this year, they won't hike. That sort of sustained downward pressure and volatility would itself prevent action at the next couple of meetings, as did the turmoil last summer when the Fed met in September. And if markets were to remain in disarray for an extended period we'd expect significant feedback into the real economy, reducing--perhaps even removing--the need for further tightening.
The Fed will leave rates unchanged today.
The probability of a rate hike on June 14, as implied by the fed funds future, has dropped to 90%, from a peak of 99% on May 5.
A slew of Asian price numbers are due this Friday, and they will all likely show that price gains softened further in January.
From a bird's-eye perspective, the argument for continued steady Fed rate hikes is clear.
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."
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.
The MPC is holding its nerve and not about to join other central banks in providing fresh stimulus.
At the end of last year, China's Central Economic Work Conference set out the lay of the land for 2019. Cutting through the rhetoric, we think the readout implies more expansionary fiscal policy, and a looser stance on monetary policy.
While we were away, EM growth prospects and risk appetite deteriorated, due mainly to rising geopolitical risks and Turkey's currency crisis.
This year has been sobering for Eurozone equity investors.
The partial government shutdown is now the longest on record, with little chance of a near-term resolution.
Friday's final EZ CPI data for July confirm the advance report.
The inevitable--more or less--correction from August's 14-year high is no big deal.
Markets now think the Fed is done.
This week has seen a huge wave of data releases for both January and February, but the calendar today is empty save for the final Michigan consumer sentiment numbers; the preliminary index rose to a very strong 99.9 from 95.7, and we expect no significant change in the final reading.
The turmoil in Washington has begun to hit markets. We don't know how this will end, but we do know that it isn't going away quickly.
Our payroll model, which incorporates survey data as well as the error term from our ADP forecast, points to a hefty 225K increase in November employment. We have tweaked the forecast to the upside because of the tendency in recent years for the fourth quarter numbers to be stronger than the prior trend, as our first chart shows.
Expectations are running high that the Autumn Statement on November 23 will mark the beginning of a more active role for fiscal policy in stimulating the economy. The MPC's abandonment of its former easing bias earlier this month has put the stimulus ball firmly in the new Chancellor's court.
Markets are beginning to grasp that President-elect Trump's economic plans, if implemented in full--or anything like it--will constitute substantial inflationary shock to the U.S.
The number of existing homes for sale continued to fall in September, ensuring that modestly increasing demand is putting renewed upward pressure on prices.
After recent interventionist moves and plans in Mexico from AMLO's incoming administration and his political party, uncertainty and soured sentiment are the name of the game.
Markets are caught in a trade loop.
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.
Data on Friday showed that the upturn in French manufacturing petered out at the end of Q1.
Consumer confidence surveys have risen since the elections to levels consistent with very rapid growth in real spending.
The FTSE 100 fell further yesterday, briefly to levels not seen since November 2012, but its drop over recent months is not a convincing signal of impending economic disaster. The economic recovery is likely to slow further, but this will reflect the building fiscal squeeze and the sterling-related export hit much more than the wobble in market sentiment.
In an interview with The Times yesterday, MPC member Ian McCafferty--who voted to raise interest rates in June--suggested he also might favour starting to run down the Bank's £435B s tock of gilt purchases soon.
Mortgage applications appear to have recovered from their reported February drop, which was due mostly to a very long-standing seasonal adjustment problem
When economic historians look back at the bizarre trade war of 2018-to-19, we think they will see Tuesday June 4 as the turning point, after which the threats of fire and brimstone were taken much less seriously, and markets began to ponder life after tariffs.
We have revised up our second quarter consumption forecast to a startling 4.0% in the wake of yesterday's strong June retail sales numbers, which were accompanied by upward revisions to prior data.
Manufacturing is not in recession, yet, despite the reams of gloomy analysis of the sector, including our own.
Back in September, after the Fed decided to hold fire in the wake of market turmoil, we expected rates to rise in December and again in March. We forecast 10-year yields would rise to 2.75% by the end of March. in the event, the Fed hiked only once, and 10-year yields ended the first quarter at just 1.77%. So, what went wrong with our forecasts?
Your correspondent is headed to the beach for the next couple of weeks, with publication resuming on Tuesday, September 4.
The apparent softness of business capex is worrying the Fed.
Last month was sobering month for equity investors in the Eurozone, and indeed in the global economy as a whole.
The FOMC has gone all-in, more or less, on the idea that the headwinds facing the economy mean that the hiking cycle is over.
News last week increased our conviction that the economy will struggle over the coming months, but then will have a spring in its step next year.
Chinese monetary conditions have tightened sharply in the past year. Conditions have stabilised in recent months but Fed policy normalisation implies the increase in the money stock should slow again in 2018.
The medium-term outlook in most LatAm economies is improving, though economic activity is likely to remain anaemic in the near term. The gradual recovery in commodity prices is supporting resource economies, while the post-election surge in global stock prices has boosted confidence. But country-specific domestic considerations are equally relevant; the growth stories differ across the region.
Barring a gigantic shock from the Fed this week--we expect a 25bp hike--Eurozone equities will end the year with a solid return for investors, who have been overweight. Total return of the MSCI EU ex-UK should come in around 10%, which compares to a likely flat return for the MSCI World, reflecting the boost from the ECB's QE driving out performance. Our first chart shows the index has been mainly lifted by consumer sector, healthcare and IT stocks, comfortably making up for weakness in materials and energy. The year has been a story of two halves, however, and global headwinds have intensified since the summer, partly offsetting the surge in the Q1 as markets celebrated the arrival of QE and negative interest rates.
The MPC surprised nobody yesterday by voting unanimously to keep Bank Rate at 0.75% and to maintain the stocks of gilt and corporate bond purchases at £435B and £10B, respectively.
Our view on the trade data last week was that U.S. tariff hikes have caused minimal damage, so far. China's tariff increases on imports to date have resulted in stockpiling, with little evidence in the CPI of any inflationary pressure.
The Mexican peso and the Mexican stock market were hit this week after a poll showed that the Republican presidential candidate, Mr. Donald Trump, is leading in Ohio, a bellwether state in US presidential elections. After the poll's release, the MXN, which has been trading at about 18.9 to the USD, shot up to around 19.2.
Having panicked at the January hourly earnings numbers, markets now seem to have decided that higher inflation might not be such a bad thing after all, and stocks rallied after both Wednesday's core CPI overshoot and yesterday's repeat performance in the PPI.
After a very light week for economic data so far, everything changes today, with an array of reports on both activity and inflation. We expect headline weakness across the board, with downside risks to consensus for the December retail sales and industrial production numbers, and the January Empire State survey and Michigan consumer sentiment. The damage will b e done by a combination of falling oil prices, very warm weather, relative to seasonal norms, and the stock market.
In recent weeks LatAm's currencies and stock markets, together with key commodity prices, have risen as financial markets' expectations for a rate increase by the Fed this year have faded. The COP has risen 8.5% over the last month, the MXN is up 2.5%, the CLP has climbed 1.4% and the PEN has been practically stable against the USD. The minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest meeting added strength to this market's view, showing that policymakers postponed an interest rate hike as they worried about a global slowdown, particularly China, the strong USD and the impact of the drop in stock prices.
It's hard to know what will stop the correction in the stock market, but we're pretty sure that robust economic data--growth, prices and/or wages--over the next few weeks would make things worse.
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.
Data released over the holidays suggest that money supply dynamics in the Eurozone remain solid, but also that growth is no longer accelerating. M3 growth slipped to 5.1% year-over-year in November from 5.3% in October, partly due to a sharp monthly fall in the stock of repurchase agreements. Momentum in narrow money, however, also dipped. M1 growth slowed to 11.2% year-over-year from 11.8% in October, mainly due to a modest fall in overnight deposit growth.
Another day, another sharp drop in the stock market, and another wavelet of commentary suggesting recession and deflation are just around the corner. We have no argument with the idea that the manufacturing sector could contract over, say, the next six months. But the other 88% of the economy--apart from the 1½% of GDP generated by oil extraction-- is benefiting from the strong dollar and cheap fuel.
Fed Chair Yellen today needs to strike a balance between addressing investors' concerns over the state of the stock market and the risks posed by slower growth in Asia, and the tightening domestic labor market.
Trade talk and falling stocks are hurting...but the fed is still on course for four hikes this year
Fears over a Eurozone banking crisis have compounded market volatility recently, and sent bank equities into a tailspin. Deutsche Bank has been the focus of the attention, probably due to its systemic importance and opaque balance sheet. DB's stock price is down a staggering 38% year-to-date, and earlier this week, the German finance minister had to assure markets that he has no worries about the bank's position.
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.
On the face of it, the slowdown in bank loan growth to commercial and industrial companies over the past two years looks alarming. In the year to November, the stock of loans outstanding rose by 8.0%, the smallest gain since January 2014. A further decline in the year-over-year rate, taking it below the rate of growth of nominal GDP--we expect 4.7% in the first quarter--for the first time in six years, is now a fair bet. The three- and six-month annualized growth rates of C&I lending in November were just 6.2% and 4.7% respectively, and still falling.
In one line: Drop almost entirely due to a reversal of the pre-Brexit stockpiling boost.
Bond market volatility and political turmoil in Greece have been the key drivers of an abysmal second quarter for Eurozone equities. Recent panic in Chinese markets has further increased the pressure, adding to the wall of worry for investors. A correction in stocks is not alarming, though, following the surge in Q1 from the lows in October. The total return-- year-to-date in euros--for the benchmark MSCI EU ex-UK index remains a respectable 11.4%.
It is possible that the broad-based softness of September payrolls captures a knee-jerk reaction on the part of employers, choosing to wait-and-see what happens to demand in the wake of stock market correction. But that can't be the explanation for the mere 136K August gain, because the survey was conducted before the market rolled over. Even harder to explain is the hefty downward revision to August payrolls, after years of upward revisions. All is not yet lost for August--the last time the first revision to the month was downwards, -3K in 2010, the second revision was +56K--but we aren't wildly optimistic.
LatAm, particularly Mexico, has dealt with Donald Trump's presidency better than expected thus far. Indeed, the MXN rose 10.7% against the USD in Q1, the stock market has recovered after its initial post-Trump plunge, and risk metrics have eased significantly.
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.
In one line: No longer outperforming now the stockpiling boost has fully worn off.
In one line: Small business owners responding to the Jan-Apr stock market rally with the usual lag.
The knee-jerk reaction of the stock market to the unexpectedly high hourly earnings growth number for January was predicated on two connected ideas.
The stock market loved Fed Chair Powell's remarks on the economy yesterday, specifically, his comment that rates are now "just below" neutral.
In one line: The recovery from the Q4 stock market hit continues apace.
The economy's resilience in the first quarter of this year, in the midst of heightened Brexit uncertainty, can be attributed partly to a boost from no-deal Brexit precautionary stockpiling.
The U.K.'s unexpected vote for Brexit means a stronger dollar for the foreseeable future, a sharp though likely containable drop in U.S. stock prices, and a further delay before the Fed next raises rates. The vote does not necessarily mean the U.K. actually will leave the EU, because the policy choices now facing leaders of Union have changed dramatically. An offer of substantial concessions on the migration issue--the single biggest driver of the Leave vote-- might be enough to trigger a second referendum, but this is a consideration for another day.
The IFO did its part to alleviate the stock market gloom yesterday, with the business climate index rising slightly to 108.3 in August from 108.0 in July. The August reading doesn't reflect the panic in equities, though, and we need to wait until next month to gauge the real hit to business sentiment. The increase in the headline index was driven by businesses assessment of current output, with the key expectations index falling trivially to 102.2 from a revised 102.3 in July. This survey currently points to a stable trend in real GDP growth of about 0.4% quarter-on-quarter, consistent with our expectation of full year growth of about 1.5%.
The ECB kept its cool yesterday, at the headline level, amid crashing stock markets, volatile BTPs and souring economic data.
Volatility in commodities and emerging markets has intensified since the beginning of July, with the stock market drama in China taking centre stage. The bubble in Chinese equities inflated without much ado elsewhere, and can probably deflate in isolation too. But the accelerating economic slowdown in EM is becoming an issue for policy makers in the Eurozone.
The fall in the cost of new secured credit has played a key role in reinvigorating the economy over the last couple of years. Mortgage interest payments were 3.7% lower in Q3 than in the same quarter a year previously, even though the stock of secured debt was 2% larger. As a result, the percentage of household disposable incomes taken up by mortgage interest payments fell to 4.8% in the third quarter of 2015--the lowest proportion since records began in 1987--from 5.2% a year before.
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.
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Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on ISM Non-Manufacturing
Senior International Economist Andres Abadia on Latam currency risks.
Chief Eurozone Economist Claus Vistesen on Eurozone Economies
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on the U.S. Economy
Claus Vistesen discussing the German PMI's
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