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292 matches for " tax":
The Prime Minister's refusal last week to reaffirm her party's 2015 election pledge not to raise income tax, National Insurance or VAT has fuelled speculation that taxes will rise if the Conservatives are re-elected on June 8. Admittedly, Mrs. May asserted that her party "believes in lower taxes", and the tax pledge s till might appear in the Conservatives' manifesto, which won't be published for a few weeks.
The Chancellor claims he can eliminate public borrowing without raising taxes. But the latest borrowing overshoot and the continual optimistic bias of the OBR's forecasts cast doubt on whether his approach will be sufficient to meet his self-imposed surplus target.
Both the Prime Minister and Chancellor last week threatened to cut business taxes aggressively to persuade multinationals to remain in Britain in the event of hard Brexit. But these threats lack credibility, given the likely lingering weakness of the public finances by the time of the U.K.'s departure from the EU and the scale of demographic pressures set to weigh on public spending over the next decade.
We've seen some alarming estimates of the potential impact on inflation of the House Republicans' plans for corporate tax reform, with some forecasts suggesting the CPI would be pushed up as much as 5%. We think the impact will be much smaller, more like 1-to-11⁄2% at most, and it could be much less, depending on what happens to the dollar. But the timing would be terrible, given the Fed's fears over the inflation risk posed by the tightness of the labor market.
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%.
It's not our job to pontificate on the merits, or otherwise, of the tax cut bill from a political perspective.
Housing market data yesterday fostered the view that prices are vulnerable to a fall following April's increase in stamp duty--a transactions tax-- and before the E.U. referendum in June. Political uncertainty, however, has rarely had a pervasive or sustained impact on prices in the past.
The passage of the House tax cut bill does not guarantee that the Senate will follow suit with its own bill, still less that both chambers will then be able to agree on a single bill which can then b e signed into law. As
The delay in the processing of personal income tax refunds this year appears not to have had any adverse impact on retail sales, so far. Indeed, the Redbook chainstore sales survey suggests that sales have accelerated over the past few weeks.
As far as we can tell, most forecasters expect the impact of fiscal stimulus this year to be gradual, with perhaps most of the boost to growth coming next year. At this point, with no concrete proposals either from the new administration or Congress, anything can happen, and we can't rule out the idea of a slow roll-out of tax cuts and spending increases.
April's public finances indicate that the economy has remained weak in Q2, casting doubt on the suggestion from recent business surveys that the slowdown in Q1 was just a blip.
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 first estimate of retail sales growth in August was weaker than implied by the Redbook chainstore sales survey, but our first chart shows that the difference between the numbers was well within the usual margin of error.
The CBO reckons that the April budget surplus jumped to about $179B, some $72B more than in the same month last year. This looks great, but alas all the apparent improvement reflects calendar distortions on the spending side of the accounts.
The headline retail sales numbers for October looked good, but the details were less comforting.
Progress in reducing the budget deficit has ground to a virtual halt, despite the ongoing fiscal consolidation. Public sector net borrowing excluding public sector banks--PSNB ex.--was £10.6B in September, exceeding the £9.3B borrowed in the same month last year.
March's public sector borrowing figures brought more signs that the economy has lost considerable momentum this year. Borrowing, on the PSNB excluding public sector banks measure, came in at £5.1B in March, up slightly from £4.3B in March 2016.
The release yesterday of the weekly Redbook chainstore sales report for the week ended Saturday August 4 means that we now have a complete picture of July sales.
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.
It seems pretty clear from press reports that the White House budget, which reportedly will be released March 14, will propose substantial increases in defense spending, deep cuts to discretionary non- defense spending, and no substantive changes to entitlement programs. None of this will come as a surprise.
The last few years have thrown up surprise after surprise for establishment parties. Mr. Abe's Liberal Democrat Party is about as establishment as they come.
In yesterday's Monitor, we outlined how the government's plans to allow more migrants to register in cities could help counterbalance the effects of aging and put a floor under medium-term property prices.
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 recent revival in housing market activity reflects more than just a temporary boost provided by imminent tax changes. The current momentum in market activity and lending likely will fade later this year, but we think this will have more to do with looming interest rate rises than a lull in activity caused by a shift in the timing of home purchases.
Evidence of slowing economic activity in Colombia continues to mount. Retail sales fell 2.0% year- over-rate in April, down from a revised plus 3.0% in March; and the underlying trend is falling. This year's consumption tax increase, low confidence, tight credit conditions, and rising unemployment continue to put private consumption under pressure.
Brazil's government announced on Monday spending cuts and new tax increases, aiming to generate a 0.7% of GDP primary surplus, and so restore market confidence and avoid further credit rating downgrades. The plan is to reduce expenditure by BRL26B next year--or 0.4% of GDP--mainly through freezing public sector salaries and slashing social projects. These measures, especially the latter, will likely meet strong resistance in Congress. The salary freeze has more of a chance of passing, but reducing or closing some Ministries is a cost-cutting exercise with an extremely high political price.
Over the past couple of weeks, the number of applications for new mortgages to finance house purchase have reached their highest level since late 2010, when activity was boosted by the impending expiration of a time-limited tax credit for homebuyers.
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.
The plunge in oil prices in recent weeks is not a threat to the overall U.S. economic growth story in the near term--we have always expected growth to slow, but remain decent, once the boost from the tax cuts fades--but it will make a difference, at the margin.
BanRep surprised the markets on Friday with a 25bp interest rate cut, bringing rates to 7.50%. We expected the Colombian central bank to start easing in January, due to the uncertainties surrounding the tax reform package and the ongoing minimum wage negotiations.
The new fiscal year began on April 6, marking the post-election intensification of the fiscal squeeze for many households. The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates net tax and benefit changes will subtract 1.2 percentage points from year-over-year growth in households' disposable incomes in 2016.
Commodity prices have started the year under further downward pressure. This is yet more negative news for LatAm, as most of the countries have failed to diversify, instead relying on oil or copper for a large share of exports and, critically, tax revenue. Venezuela is the biggest loser in the region from the oil hit, and, together with the worsening political and economic crisis, it has pushed the country even closer to the verge of collapse, threatening its debt payments. Venezuela's central bank last week released economic data for the first time since 2014, showing that inflation spiralled to 141% and that the economy shrank 4.5% in the first nine months of last year.
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.
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.
Our hopes that tax cuts and lower energy inflation would lift French household consumption in Q4 were badly dented by yesterday's consumer sentiment report.
The Chancellor's decision immediately to spend all the proceeds from the OBR's upgrade to its projections for tax receipts appears to leave his plans exposed to future adverse revisions to the economic outlook.
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson speaking about Donald Trump's plans for sweeping tax cuts
Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, examines the French government's move to suspend a planned fuel-tax hike that sparked three weeks of protests.
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Public Finances
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on U.K. Inflation
Chief U.K. Economist Samuel Tombs on UK Government Borrowing
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on the Fed's growth forecast
The German statistical office will supply a confidential estimate to Eurostat for this week's advance euro area Q2 GDP data. Our analysis suggests this number will be grim, and weigh on the aggregate EZ estimate. Our GDP model, which includes data for retail sales, industrial production and net exports, forecasts that real GDP in Germany contracted 0.1% quarter-on-quarter in the second quarter, after a 0.7% jump in Q1.
President Trump made official his plan to impose tariffs on up to $60B of annual imports from China, as well as limitations on Chinese investments in the U.S.
We have tweaked our third quarter GDP forecast in the wake of the September advance international trade and inventory data; we now expect today's first estimate to show that the economy expanded at a 4.0% annualized rate.
The closer we look at the startling surge in imports in the fourth quarter, the more convinced we become that it was due in large part to a burst of inventory replacement following the late summer hurricanes.
Yesterday's barrage of French business sentiment data was mixed.
Markets will be hyper-sensitive to U.K. data releases following the MPC's warning that it is on the verge of raising interest rates.
Public borrowing has continued to fall more rapidly than anticipated in the latest official plans.
The PBoC and Ministry of Finance have been locked in a relatively public debate recently over which body should shoulder the burden of stimulating the economy as growth slows and trade tensions take their toll.
New home sales surprised to the upside in May, rising 6.7% to 689K, a six-month high.
The Chancellor hinted in the Autumn Statement that the fiscal consolidation might not be as severe as it appears on paper because he has built in some "fiscal headroom". By that, Mr. Hammond means that he could borrow more and still adhere to his new, self-imposed rules.
When you read between the lines of its public statements on Brexit, the Government appears to be prioritising controlling immigration over maintaining unfettered access to the single market, much to the chagrin of the financial sector.
U.S. President Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order aimed at delivering on his campaign pledge to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The executive order also includes measures to boost border patrol forces and increase the number of immigration enforcement officers. As previous U.S. presidents have discovered, however, signing an executive order is one thing and fulfilling it is something else. President Obama, for instance, signed an executive order to close the Guantanamo detention facility on his second day in office.
need to add docMea culpa: We failed to spot the press release from the Commerce Department announcing the delay of the release of the advance December trade and inventory data, due to the government shutdown.
December's public finance figures suggest that borrowing is on track to come in a bit below the forecasts set out in the Autumn Statement in November. But we caution against expecting the Chancellor to unveil a material reduction in the scale of the fiscal consolidation set to hit the economy in his Budget on 8th March.
April's public finances show that borrowing still is falling more slowly than the Chancellor had envisaged. This casts further doubt over whether he will be able to keep his pledge to run a budget surplus before the end of this parliament in 2020.
The E.C.'s Economic Sentiment Indicator for the U.K., released yesterday, painted an upbeat picture of the economy's recent performance. The ESI picked up to 109.4 in February from 107.1 in January; its average level since 1990 is 100. February's reading was the highest since December 2015, and it slightly exceeded the E.U.'s average of 108.9.
We have been asked how we can justify raising our growth forecasts but at the same time arguing that the housing market is set to weaken quite dramatically, thanks to the clear downshift in mortgage applications in recent months. Applications peaked back in June, so this is not just a story about the post-election rise in mortgage rates.
Tokyo CPI inflation edged down to 0.4% in May, from 0.5% in April.
Markets often greet the monthly international trade numbers with a shrug.
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.
Wage growth will be crucial in determining how quickly the MPC raises interest rates this year. So far, it hasn't recovered meaningfully.
Today brings new housing market data, in the form of the weekly applications numbers from the MBA. The weekly data are seasonally adjusted but are still very volatile, especially in the spring.
The stock market loved Fed Chair Powell's remarks on the economy yesterday, specifically, his comment that rates are now "just below" neutral.
It seems reasonable to think that manufacturing should be doing better in the U.S. than other major economies.
The Fed is on course to hike again in December, with 12 of the 16 FOMC forecasters expecting rates to end the year 25bp higher than the current 2-to-21⁄4%; back in June, just eight expected four or more hikes for the year.
Guo Shuqing, head of the newly formed China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, has been named as Party Secretary for the PBoC.
Today is a busy day in the Eurozone economic calendar, but we suspect that markets mainly will focus on the details of Italy's 2019 budget.
The Colombian economy was relatively resilient at the end of last year, but economic reports released during the last few weeks indicate that growth is still fragile, and that downside risks have increased. Real GDP rose 1.0% quarter-on-quarter in Q4, pushing the year-over-year rate up to 1.6% from 1.2% in Q3.
The decline in headline durable goods orders in May, reported yesterday, doesn't matter.
Whichever way you choose to slice the numbers, consumers' spending is growing much more slowly than is implied by an array of confidence surveys.
Today brings a wave of data, some brought forward because of Thanksgiving. We are most interested in the durable goods orders report for October, which we expect will show the upward trend in core capital goods orders continues.
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.
Later today, the Chancellor likely will take the first step towards abandoning plans for further fiscal tightening. In
In recent public appearances, the Chancellor has made a concerted effort to downplay expectations of fiscal loosening in Wednesday's Autumn statement. On Sunday, he labelled the deficit "eye-wateringly" large and he warned that he was "highly constrained".
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.
Yesterday's public finance figures showed that the public sector, excluding public sector banks, ran a surplus of £0.2B in July, a modest improvement on borrowing of £0.4B a year ago.
Public borrowing continues to falling at a very slow pace, despite the major fiscal consolidation implemented this year. Public sector net borrowing excluding public sector banks--PSNB ex.--was £10.5B in August, only 8.1% less than the £11.5B borrowed a year ago.
Growth in South America disappointed last year, but prospects are gradually improving on the back of rising commodity prices and the global manufacturing rebound. These factors will help to ease the region's external and fiscal vulnerabilities, particularly over the second half of the year. On the domestic front, though, the first quarter has proved challenging for some countries, hit by temporary supply factors such as a mine strikes, floods, and wildfires.
The renewed slide in oil prices in recent weeks will crimp capital spending, at the margin, but it is not a macroeconomic threat on the scale of the 2014-to-16 hit.
Brazil's economic performance has improved marginally in recent months, with inflation falling and economic activity and sentiment data stabilizing, or even increasing modestly. The latest regional economic activity report, for instance, showed that although overall output declined again on a sequential basis in March-to-May, three of the five regions expanded.
Economic growth in France has been the key downside surprise in the Eurozone this year.
The Chancellor can go on his Christmas vacation content that the public finances have weathered the economy's slowdown relatively well this year.
We expect the official estimate of quarter-on-quarter GDP growth in Q4 to be revised up to 0.7% today, from last month's preliminary estimate of 0.6%. The consensus forecast is for no revision, so the data likely will boost interest rate expectations and sterling, if we're right.
The intensity of the pressure on households' finances was highlighted last week by December's retail sales report, which showed that volumes fell by 1.5% month-to-month, the most since June 2016.
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.
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 main measure of public borrowing--PSNB excluding public sector banks--came in at £2.6B in December, well below the £5.1B in December 2016 and lower than in any other December since 2000.
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.
Eurozone consumer confidence remained at its low for the year at the start of Q3.
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 U.S. household sector carries substantial gross debts, even after the sustained deleveraging since the crash of 2008. The gross debt-to-income ratio stood at 105.3% in the second quarter of this year, down from the 135% peak in late 2007 but still well above the 88% average recorded in the 1990s, which was not a decade of restraint on the part of consumers.
Yesterday's second estimate of Q3 GDP confirmed that the U.K. economy has underperformed this year.
At the halfway mark of the fiscal year, public borrowing has been significantly lower than the OBR forecast in the March Budget.
On the face of it, the surge in retail sales volumes in September suggests that the U.K. consumer is in fine fettle and can prevent the economic recovery from losing momentum as exporters struggle and government spending retrenches. But the underlying picture is less encouraging and consumers won't be able to sustain the recent robust growth in real spending when inflation revives next year.
Back on May 14, we argued--see here--that the stars were aligned to generate very strong second quarter GDP growth, perhaps even reaching 5%.
The public finances continue to heal rapidly, suggesting that the Chancellor should have scope to soften his fiscal plans substantially in the Autumn Budget.
New home sales are much more susceptible to weather effects -- in both directions -- than existing home sales. We have lifted our forecast for today's February numbers above the 575K pace implied by the mortgage applications data in recognition of the likely boost from the much warmer-than-usual temperatures.
The Monetary Policy Committee chose to keep its options open in the minutes of this week's meeting, rather than signal as clearly as it did last year that interest rates will rise very soon.
The recent deceleration in households' real spending means that either business investment or net exports will have to pickup if the economy is to avoid a severe slowdown this year.
A shutdown of the federal government, which could happen as early as this weekend, is a political event rather than a macroeconomic shock. But if it happens--if Congress cannot agree on even a shortterm stop-gap spending measure in order to keep the lights on after the 28th--it would demonstrate yet again that the splits in the House mean that the prospects of a substantial near-term loosening of fiscal policy are now very slim.
The violent protests in France claimed their first victims over the weekend, providing sombre evidence of the severity of the situation for the government.
Predicting which way markets would move in response to potential general election outcomes has been relatively straightforward in the past. But the usual rules of thumb will not apply when the election results filter through after polling stations close on Thursday evening.
As we go to press, equities in the Eurozone are having a bad day following the collapse in U.S. and Asian equities earlier.
At first glance, car sales appear to be staging a strong recovery, mirroring the better news on high street spending in Q2.
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 downturn in car sales is showing no sign of abating. Data released yesterday by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders showed that private registrations fell 10.1% year-over-year in October, much worse than the 6.6% average drop in the previous 12 months.
We are surprised by the EU's reaction to Mr. Trump's announcement that the U.S. will impose tariffs on steel and aluminium.
The 5% year-over-year increase in private new car registrations in January ended a nine-month period of falling sales. January's increase, however, is unlikely to be a bellwether for car sales over the whole year, or for the strength of consumer spending more generally.
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.
Labor demand appears to have remained strong through August, so we expect to see a robust ADP report today.
We read the same polls, newspapers, and political websites as everyone else, and we're not claiming any special insight into the outcome of the midterm elections today.
Ms Keiko Fujimori, the candidate of Peru's conservative Fuerza Popular party, seems on course to win the first round of the presidential election this Sunday, April 10. According to the latest Ipsos poll, the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori continues to lead the race, with the support or about 34% of voters.
...The Fed did nothing, surprising no-one; the labor market tightened further; the housing market tracked sideways; survey data mostly slipped a bit; and oil prices jumped nearly $4, briefly nudging above $50 for the first time since May.
We're sticking to our 220K forecast for today's official payroll number, despite the slightly smaller-than- expected 179K increase in the ADP measure of private employment.
The flow of data pointing to strength in the labor market has continued this week, on the heels of last week's report of a 250K jump in October payrolls.
Speculation that another general election is imminent is rarely out of the news. At present, betting markets see about a 35% chance of another election in 2019, broadly the same chance as one in 2022, when it is currently scheduled to be held.
The budget sequestration process, which cut discretionary government spending by a total of $114B in fiscal 2013 and fiscal 2014, was one of the dumbest things Congress has done in recent years.
The 62K jump in jobless claims for the week ended September 2 is a hint of what's to come. Claims usually don't surge until the second week after major hurricanes, because people have better things to do in the immediate aftermath, so we are braced for a further big increase next week.
We already know that the month-to-month movements in the key labor market components of the December NFIB small business survey were mixed; the data were released last week, ahead the official employment report, as usual.
The Chancellor lived up to his reputation for fiscal conservatism yesterday and is pressing ahead with a tough fiscal tightening. He hopes that this will create scope to loosen policy if the economy struggles after the U.K. leaves the EU in 2019, but we remain concerned his "fiscal headroom" will be much smaller than he currently anticipates.
Friday's German new orders data were sizzling. Factory orders jumped 3.6% month-to-month in August, pushing the year-over-year rate up to a nine-month high of 7.8%, from an upwardly-revised 5.4% in July.
If the Redbook chain store sales survey moved consistently in line with the official core retail sales numbers, it would attract a good deal more attention in the markets. We appreciate that brick-and-mortar retailers are losing market share to online sellers, but the rate at which sales are moving to the web is quite steady and easy to accommodate when comparing the Redbook with the official data.
Inflation pressures are easing rapidly in Colombia, according to October's CPI report, released on Saturday. Inflation fell to 6.5% year-over-year in October, down from 7.3% in September; the consensus expectation was 6.7%.
We are not political analysts or psephologists, but we note that each of the nine separate election forecasting models tracked by the New York Times suggests that Hillary Clinton will be president, with odds ranging from 67% to greater than 99%.
Japan's services sector PMI last week was disappointing.
Car manufacturers have been at the sharp end o f the slowdown in consumers' spending this year. In response, several brands have launched generous scrappage schemes, giving buyers a big discount when they trade in their old vehicle.
Markets have been positively surprised by Brazil's rapid disinflation, the efforts at fiscal reform, and the prospect of growth in the economy this year. The Ibovespa index is now above its pre-crisis high and the real has approached the key level of three per USD in recent months. But the latest GDP report, released yesterday, showed that the economy struggled in Q4. Real GDP fell 0.9% quarter-on-quarter, worse than the revised 0.7% drop in Q3.
China's FX reserves fell to $3,134B in February, from $3,161B in January, after a year of gains.
At their March meeting FOMC members' range of forecasts for the unemployment rate in the fourth quarter of this year ranged from 4.4% to 4.7%, with a median of 4.5%. But Friday's report showed that the unemployment rate hit the bottom of the forecast range in April.
Inflation in Colombia right now is under control but risks are increasing rapidly, and the outlook for next year has deteriorated significantly.
China's National People's Congress yesterday laid out its main goals for this year, on the first day of its annual meeting.
Fiscal policy is in limbo until a new leader of the Conservative party has been elected on September 9. Shortly after, however, a new Budget--or a Budget disguised as an Autumn Statement--will be held.
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%.
This Budget will be remembered as the moment when the Government finally threw in the towel on plans to run sustainable public finances.
The jobless rate fell back to 2.8% in June after the surprise rise to 3.1% in May. This drop takes us back to where we were in April before voluntary unemployment jumped in May.
On the face of it, the February consumer spending data, due today, will contradict the upbeat signal from confidence surveys. The dramatic upturn in sentiment since the election is consistent with a rapid surge in real consumption, but we're expecting to see unchanged real spending in February, following a startling 0.3% decline in January.
Japan's June retail sales data add to the run of numbers suggesting a strong rebound in real GDP growth in Q2, after the 0.2% contraction in activity in Q1.
Mexico's trade balance shrank slightly last year, to USD13B, from USD14.6B in 2015. An improvement in the non-energy deficit was the main driver, while the energy gap worsened.
Yesterday's data in the French economy provided the final confirmation that growth remained sluggish in Q2, and showed that households had a slow start to the third quarter.
The national accounts for the fourth quarter showed that the economy relied on households slashing their saving rate to a record low in order to spend more. Now, growth in consumer spending will have to fall back in line with real incomes, which will increasingly be impaired by rising inflation.
The picture of the economy's recent performance will be redrawn today, when the national accounts are published.
The Manufacturing Upswing Continues; no Sign of Weakening
The CPIH--the controversial, modified version of the existing CPI that includes a measure of owner occupied housing, or OOH, costs--will become the headline measure of consumer price inflation when February's data are published on March 21.
The Fed likely will do nothing today, both in terms of interest rates and substantive changes to the statement. We'd be very surprised to hear anything new on the Fed's plans for its balance sheet.
In the wake of April's 0.2% increase in real consumers' spending, and the upward revisions to the first quarter numbers, we now think that second quarter spending is on course to rise at an annualized rate of about 3.5%.
Today's October ADP measure of private payrolls likely will overshoot Friday's official number.
Data released last week confirmed the strength of the economic recovery in Chile, and we expect further good news in the next three-to-six months.
We don't believe that payrolls rose only 138K in May. History strongly suggests that when the May payroll survey is conducted relatively early in the month, payroll growth falls short of the prior trend.
Activity surveys picked up across the board in April, offering hope that the slowdown in GDP growth--to just 0.3% quarter-on-quarter in Q1-- will be just a blip. The headline indicators of surveys from the CBI, European Commission, Lloyds Bank and Markit all improved in April and all exceeded their 2004-to-2016 averages.
When the BoJ tweaked policy back in July, we think the increase in flexibility in part was to lay groundwork for the BoJ to respond to the Fed's ongoing hiking cycle.
The case for the MPC to hold back from raising interest rates in May remains strong, despite the improvement in the Markit/CIPS services survey in February.
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.
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 latest public finance figures continue to imply that the Chancellor will be able to change course later this year in the Autumn Budget so that fiscal policy doesn't drag on GDP growth next year.
At the start of the year, #euroboom was the moniker used in financial media to describe the EZ economy.
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.
The current momentum in house prices partly reflects a dearth of homes offered for sale by existing homeowners. This scarcity reflects a series of constraints, which we think will ease only gradually. Further punchy gains in house prices therefore look sustainable and we expect average prices to rise by about 8% next year.
Households' decision to reduce their saving rate sharply was the main reason why economic growth exceeded forecasters' expectations in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.
Last week's strong ISM manufacturing survey for November likely will be followed by robust data for the non-manufacturing sector today, but the headline index, like its industrial counterpart, likely will dip a bit.
Friday's consumer sentiment data in the two main Eurozone economies were mixed.
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.
Friday's detailed October CPI report in Germany confirmed that inflation pressures are steadily rising. Inflation rose to 0.8% year-over-year in October, from 0.7% in September, lifted mostly by a continuing increase in energy prices.
The National People's Congress yesterday announced a sweeping restructuring of Party/State architecture.
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.
No matter how you choose to slice-and-dice the recent retail sales numbers, the core data for the past couple of months have been disappointing. Our favorite measure--total sales less autos, gasoline, food and building materials--rose by just 0.1% month-to- month in May but then reversed this minimal gain in June.
The first wave of domestic third quarter data crashes ashore this morning.
Yesterday's second EZ Q2 GDP report was slightly more upbeat than the advance estimate.
The Fed surprised no-one by raising rates 25bp yesterday and leaving in place the median forecast for three hikes next year and two next year.
Turkey has all the problems you don't want to see in an emerging market when the U.S. is raising interest rates.
Under normal circumstances, we can predict movements in the headline NFIB index from shifts in the key labor market components, which are released a day ahead of the official employment report, and, hence, about 10 days before the full NFIB survey appears.
When Park Geun-hye came to power in Korea 2013, it was to cheers of "economic democratisation". At the time, I wrote a report with a list of reforms that would be needed for Korea to "economically democratise".
The manufacturing sector likely was the primary driver of Q3 GDP growth in the Eurozone. Data yesterday showed that industrial production rose 1.4% month-to-month in August, pushing the year-over-year rate up to 3.8%, from a revised 3.6% in July.
Today's labour market report likely will show that employment continued to grow briskly over the summer, but that wage gains still are lagging well behind inflation.
China's M2 growth surprised on the upside in July, rising to 8.5% year-over-year, from 8.0% in June.
The stand-out development in yesterday's labour market report was the drop in the he adline, three-month average, unemployment rate to just 4.0% in June--its lowest rate since February 1975--from 4.2% in May.
Fed Chair Yellen delivered no great surprises in her semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony, though she certainly was clear on her attitude to the balance sheet. The Fed does not want to "...use the balance sheet as an active tool of monetary policy."
Italy's political leadership faces its first biggest test in autumn, when it has to deliver its first budget.
Yesterday's wave of data suggested that a good part of the strength in final demand in the second quarter was sustained into the first month of this quarter, and perhaps the second too.
In yesterday's Monitor, we argued that if the upside risk in an array of core CPI components crystallised in January, the month-to-month gain would print at 0.3%, for the first time since August. That's exactly what happened, though we couldn't justify it as our base forecast. A combination of rebounding airline fares, apparel prices, new vehicle prices, and education costs conspired to generate a 0.31% gain, lifting the year-over-year rate back to the 2.3% cycle high, first reached in February last year.
The IBC-Br index, a monthly proxy for Brazil's GDP--rose 0.5% month-to-month in November, pushing the year-over-year rate down to 2.8%, from an upwardly-revised 3.1% in October.
We can see no hard evidence, yet, that the expanding trade war with China and other U.S. trading partners is hitting business investment.
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.
Consumption and investment spending by state and local government accounts for just over 10% of the U.S. economy, making it more important than exports or consumers' spending on durable goods, and roughly equal to all business investment in equipment and intellectual property.
Private consumption remains resilient in Brazil and recent data suggest that growth will continue over the coming months.
The headline May retail sales numbers were flattered by a 2.4% leap in the wildly volatile building materials component and a price-driven 2.0% surge in gasoline sales.
The Chancellor has prepared the public and the markets for a ratcheting-up of the already severe austerity plans in the Budget on Wednesday. George Osborne warned on Sunday that he would announce "...additional savings, equivalent to 50p in every £100 the government spends by the end of the decade", raising an extra £4B a year.
The Fed will hike by 25 basis points today, citing the tightening labor market as the key reason to press ahead with the process of policy normalization. We think the case for adding an extra dot to the plot for both this year and next is powerful.
Italy is edging closer to a coalition government with the Five-Star Movement, the Northern League, and Forza Italia at the helm.
Manufacturing in the Eurozone rebounded midway through the second quarter.
Our argument that rates could rise as soon as March has always been contingent on two factors, namely, robust labor market data and a degree of clarity on the extent of fiscal easing likely to emerge from Congress. On the first of these issues, the latest evidence is mixed.
Note: This updates our initial post-election thoughts, adding more detail to the fiscal policy discussion. Apologies for the density of the text, but there's a lot to say. Our core conclusions have not changed since the election result emerged. The biggest single economic policy change, by far, will be on the fiscal front.
Colombia's January inflation rate easily exceeded BanRep's 2-to-4% target range yet again, jumping to 7.5% from 6.8% in October, the fastest increase since December 2008. This is putting pressure on BanRep to continue tightening, following 150bp rate hikes, to 6.0%, since September.
The economy's recovery from the 2008/09 recession has been weaker than after the previous two downturns partly because households have not depleted housing equity to fund consumption.
Normal service appears to have resumed in August, with payrolls rising by 201K, very close to the 196K average over the previous year.
Inflation pressures in Brazil are now well- contained, with the headline rate falling to a decade low in July. We think inflation is now close to bottoming out, but the current benign rate strengthens our base case forecast for a 100bp rate cut at the next policy meeting, in September.
The softening in payroll growth in November appears mostly to be a story about short-term noise, rather than a sign that tariffs are hurting or that the broader economy is slowing.
Bond investors in Italy voted with their feet on Friday with news that the government has agreed a 2019 budget deficit of 2.4%.
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.
At next Wednesday's Budget, the Chancellor will have the rare pleasure of announcing lower-than- anticipated near-term borrowing forecasts. But hopes that he will prevent the fiscal tightening from intensifying when the new financial year begins in April look set to be dashed, just as they were at the Autumn Statement in November.
The BoJ kept monetary policy unchanged yesterday, as expected, with the signal coming through loud and clear: Japan's central bank will continue its aggressive easing policy until the inflation cows come home...
The MPC's new inflation forecasts usually take centre stage on "Super Thursday" and provide a numerical indication of how close the Committee is to raising interest rates again.
The BoJ kept policy unchanged, as expected, at its meeting yesterday.
First things first: Payroll growth likely will be sustained at or close to November's pace.
Markets' inflation expectations have fallen in recent weeks, maintaining the trend seen over the previous 18 months. The fall in expectations for the next year or so is justified by the sharp fall in oil prices. But expectations for inflation further ahead have drifted down too, even though lower oil prices will have no effect on the annual comparison of prices beyond a year or so from now.
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.
The imposition of 10% tariffs on $200B-worth of Chinese imports is not a serious threat either to U.S. economic growth--the tariffs amount to 0.1% of GDP--or inflation.
November's consumer price report likely will show that October's dip in CPI inflation was just a blip against a strong upward trend. We think that CPI inflation picked up to 1.1% in November, from 0.9% in October, in line with the consensus.
Today's rate hike will be accompanied by a new round of Fed forecasts, which will have to reflect the faster growth and lower unemployment than expected back in September.
The pick-up in CPI inflation to 3.1% in November--its highest rate since March 2012-- from 3.0% in October, shouldn't alarm the MPC at this week's meeting.
Oil prices remain sticky, poised to hover close to a four-year high for the rest of the year.
The outlook for the French economy is changing on a daily basis these days.
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%.
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.
The large unexpected surge in oil and gas output this year has boosted the overall economic recovery significantly. But this looks like the last hurrah for a sector of the U.K. economy in terminal decline.
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.
The month-to-month core CPI numbers in March were consistent, in aggregate, with the underlying trend.
It might seem odd to describe a meeting at which the Fed raised rates for only the third time since 2006 as a holding operation, but that just about sums up yesterday's actions. The 25bp rate hike was fully anticipated; the forecasts for growth, inflation and interest rates were barely changed from December; and the Fed still expects a total of three hikes this year.
The industrial production trajectory in Mexico looked strong going into Q3, but Friday's report for August threatens to change that picture.
While we were away, EM growth prospects and risk appetite deteriorated, due mainly to rising geopolitical risks and Turkey's currency crisis.
The recent sell-off in Treasuries has not yet reached significant proportions.
The two key planks of the argument that a substantial easing of fiscal policy won't be inflationary are that labor participation will be dragged higher, limiting the decline in the unemployment rate, while productivity growth will rebound, so unit labor costs will remain under control.
We would be astonished if the FOMC meeting starting today does not end with a 25bp rate hike.
The media and markets are waking up to the idea that the housing market has peaked in the face of higher mortgage rates and slightly--so far--tighter lending standards.
Mr. Macron will be in Berlin today with the message that France wants a strong Eurozone and a tight relationship with Germany. Friendly overtures between Paris and Berlin are good news for investors; they reduce political uncertainty while increasing the chance that the economic recovery will continue. But it is too early to get excited about closer fiscal coordination, let alone a common EZ fiscal policy and bond issuance.
Last month was sobering month for equity investors in the Eurozone, and indeed in the global economy as a whole.
Recent data have added to the evidence that the Colombian economy stumbled in July. Retail sales plunged 3.3% year-over-year, from an already poor and downwardly revised 0.9% decline in June. The underlying trend is negative, following two consecutive declines, and July's data were the weakest since September 2009.
Bond yields in Italy remain elevated, but volatility has declined recently; two-year yields have halved to 0.7% and 10-year yields have dipped below 3%.
The odds of a hike this month have increased in recent days, though the chance probably is not as high as the 82% implied by the fed funds future. The arguments against a March hike are that GDP growth seems likely to be very sluggish in Q1, following a sub-2% Q4, and that a hike this month would be seen as a political act.
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.
Korea's trade data have been extremely volatile over the past two months, thanks to distortions caused by last year's odd holiday calendar.
The BoJ kept all policy measures unchanged at its meeting yesterday.
After a 15 year hiatus, Argentina returned to the global credit markets yesterday with the sale of a USD16.5B sovereign bonds, the largest ever dollar offering by a developing country. Argentina boosted the size of its offering to USD16.5B from USD15B after attracting orders worth USD70B. The country sold four tranches: 10-year debt at 7.5%, three- and five year yielding 6.25% and 6.875%, respectively, and 30-year paper at 8.0%.
The French economy has suffered from weakness in manufacturing this year, alongside the other major EZ economies.
February's consumer price figures give the MPC reason to doubt the case for raising interest rates again as soon as May.
It has become pretty clear over the past couple of weeks that Hillary Clinton will be the next president, so it's now worth thinking about how fiscal policy will evolve over the next couple of years.
The New York Fed tweeted yesterday that "Housing market fundamentals appear strong.
The trend in public borrowing has improved significantly over recent months, but it is far too soon to conclude that the Chancellor is on track to meet his goal of running a budget surplus by the end of this decade. The recent economic slowdown has not impacted the public borrowing numbers, yet.
Premier Li Keqiang rounded out the National People's Congress with his press conference yesterday.
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.
Fed Chair Yellen said something which sounded odd, at first, in her Q&A at the Senate Banking Committee last Tuesday. It is "not clear" she argued, that the rate of growth of wages has a "direct impact on inflation".
The details of next year's Japanese budget are not yet official and the Chinese budget remains unknown. But the main figures of the Japanese budget are available, while China's Economic Work Conference, which concluded yesterday, has set out the colour of the paint for the budget, if not the actual brush strokes.
December's labour market report, released today, won't be a game-changer for the near-term outlook for interest rates; January data will be released before the MPC meets in March, and February data will be available at its key meeting in May.
Politics are once again encroaching on the economic story in the Eurozone. At the ECB, this week has so far been a tumultuous one.
By any yardstick, progress in reducing public sector borrowing so far this fiscal year has been poor. While the borrowing trend should improve in the final four months of this year--including December's figures, published Friday--the Chancellor has only a slim chance of meeting the forecasts set out in the Autumn Statement.
Italian bond yields have remained elevated this week, following the release of the government's detailed draft budget for 2019.
The Fed won't raise rates today, or substantively change the wording of the post-meeting statement. In September, the FOMC said that "The Committee judges that the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened but decided, for the time being, to wait for further evidence of continued progress toward its objectives."
The Chancellor chose in his Budget to increase the total size of the forthcoming fiscal consolidation, to ensure that the Office for Budget Responsibility continues to forecast that a budget surplus will be obtained in 2019/20.
The euro area's trade surplus slipped further mid- way through the second quarter; falling to a 15-month low of €16.9B in May, from a downwardly-revised €18.0B in April, and extending its descent from last year's peak of nearly €24.0B.
The jump in CPI inflation to 2.7% in April, from 2.3% in March, was only partly to a temporary boost from the later timing of Easter this year. Indeed, inflation likely will rise further over the coming months as food, energy and core goods prices all continue to pick up in response to last year's depreciation of sterling.
The spectacular 1.3% rebound in manufacturing output last month -- the biggest jump in seven years, apart from an Easter-distorted April gain -- does not change our core view that activity in the sector is no longer accelerating.
Mortgage applications appear to have recovered from their reported February drop, which was due mostly to a very long-standing seasonal adjustment problem
The median of FOMC members' estimates of longer run nominal r-star--the rate which would maintain full employment and 2% inflation--nudged up by a tenth in September to 3.0%, implying real r-star of 1%.
China's National People's Congress this year was the most significant in years and followed 12 months of lightning-speed change in the country.
The rate of growth of real personal incomes is under sustained downward pressure, slowing to 2.1% year-over-year in December from 3.4% in the year to December 2015. In January, we think real income growth will dip below 2%, thanks to the spike in the headline CPI, reported Wednesday. Our first chart shows that the 0.6% increase in the index likely will translate into a 0.5% jump in the PCE deflator, generating the first month-to-month decline in real incomes since January last year.
The softness of the headline September retail sales numbers hid a decent 0.5% increase in the "control" measure, which is the best guide to consumers' spending on non-durable goods.
Japanese GDP growth in the third quarter corrected the imbalances of the second. Domestic demand took a breather after unsustainable growth in Q2, while net exports rebounded.
The sovereign debt crisis in the euro area was a macroeconomic horror story
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.
The ECB's negative interest rate policy--NIRP--has come under the spotlight following the violent selloff in Eurozone bank equities. Mr. Draghi reassured markets and the EU parliament earlier this week that new regulation, stronger capital buffers, and common recognition of non-performing loans have made Eurozone banks stronger.
Economic data in Brazil over the second quarter were relatively positive, and June reports released in recent weeks, coupled with leading indicators for July, are encouraging.
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.
In the short-term, all the housing data are volatile. But you can be sure that if the recent pace of new home sales is sustained, housing construction will rise.
China's monetary and credit data--released yesterday, two days behind schedule--suggest that monetary conditions are loosening at the margin, while credit conditions have remained stable, but easier than in the first half.
Slower growth in households' spending was the main reason why the economy lost momentum last year.
The RICS Residential Market Survey caught our eye last week for reporting that new sale instructions to estate agents rose in May for the first month since February 2016.
Consumer confidence surveys have risen since the elections to levels consistent with very rapid growth in real spending.
A November interest rate rise is far from the done deal that markets still anticipate, even though CPI inflation rose to 3.0% in September from 2.9% in August.
For the record, we think the Fed should raise rates in December, given the long lags in monetary policy and the clear strength in the economy, especially the labor market, evident in the pre-hurricane data.
The stubbornly slow rate of decline of public borrowing casts doubt on whether the Chancellor will run a budget surplus before the end of this parliament, as his fiscal rule stipulates. But downward revisions to debt interest forecasts by the Office for Budget Responsibility are likely to absolve him again from intensifying the impending fiscal squeeze in the Budget on March 16.
Media reports allege that the Chancellor's Budget pared back the fiscal squeeze planned for the next couple of years. The Director of the Office for Budget Responsibility, Robert Chote, even compared the Chancellor to Saint Augustine, who supposedly said "make me pure, but not yet."
Our forecast that CPI inflation will return to the 2% target by the end of 2018 sets us apart from the MPC and consensus, which expect a more modest decline, to 2.4%.
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.
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."
In the absence of new economic data today, we want to take the opportunity to expand on the key themes in our latest Chartbook, which was distributed Friday.
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.
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.
Are there any signs that the U.S. tax cuts and/or regulatory relaxation are stimulating increased non-residential fixed investment?
Whichever way you choose to slice the numbers, retail sales growth has slowed this year. Ex-gasoline, ex-autos, core, whatever, sales growth in year-over-year terms is notably weaker now than at the end of last year. It is equally, true, however, that after-tax incomes have risen at a robust pace--up 3.8% in the year to May, exactly the same pace as in the year to May 2014--so consumers in aggregate have plenty of cash to spend. So, what's holding people back at the mall? Why aren't they spending more?
Fed Chair Yellen's Testimony yesterday pretended the election hadn't happened, and ignored the incoming administration's plans for a huge fiscal stimulus. She did address the issue under questioning, though, pointing out that fiscal stimulus could have inflationary consequences and that the Fed will have to factor-in to its decisions whatever Congress decides to do to taxes and spending.
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.
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.
Companies' profit margins have fared relatively well during this recovery, and on many measures, they are back to pre-crisis levels. But looking ahead, corporate profitability is set to be squeezed as labour takes a larger share of national income and the Government gets to grips with the budget deficit by increasing corporate taxation.
Fiscal stimulus, partly financed by a border adjustment tax, and Fed rate hikes, were supposed to be a powerful cocktail driving a stronger dollar in 2017. But so far only the Fed has delivered--we expect another rate hike next month--while Mr. Trump has disappointed in the White House.
Growth Has Peaked as the Tax Cut Boost Fades...But the Labor Market is Keeping the Fed on Track
The defeat in the House of Lords of the Government's plans to cut spending on tax credits by £4.4B next year is not a barrier to their implementation. But it has prompted speculation that the Chancellor will reduce the size of the fiscal consolidation planned for next year. The plans may be tweaked in the Autumn Statement on 25 November, but we think the economy will still endure a major fiscal tightening next year.
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%.
Another deadline has come and gone in the negotiations between Greece and its creditors. This week's meeting between EU finance ministers revealed that the creditors have not seen enough commitments unlock the €7B Greece needs to repay in July. Mr. Tsipras has agreed to energy sector privatizations, and to increase the threshold for income tax exemption.
Reforms to Stamp Duty Land Tax paid by first-time buyers likely will take centre stage in the Budget. At the Conservatives' party conference, Theresa May pledged another £10B to expand the Help to Buy Scheme, which helps first-time buyers obtain a mortgage which just a 5% deposit.
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