A very relevant column on the new stages of the trade war

This column, “The Case Is Only Growing for an Economic Forever War”, by Shawn Donnan, was posted on the Bloomberg website.

“President Donald Trump’s trade war with China has become a bigger, broader economic forever war. It’s hard to look ahead and see any outcome that undermines that emerging reality. A “phase one” deal may be in what U.S. officials say is its messy end stages. But that deal, if it comes, will be partial and more ceasefire than game changer. It also doesn’t mean a larger peace is nigh. Moreover, there are three live truths that are becoming inescapable:” Continue reading here

What to expect this week – 11 November – 17 November 2019

Highlights

> —GDP growth for the third quarter in Germany (Nov.14) and the ZEW survey for November (Nov.12)
The industrial contraction during the third quarter and the fragility seen on the services sector during the third quarter will probably lead to a negative growth rate in the third quarter. Will this technical recession be sufficient to force a more accommodative fiscal policy ? —

> The Eurozone GDP and Employment for the third quarter (Nov.14) and industrial production for September (Nov.15)
The flash estimate for the GDP was at 0.2%, it will be confirmed. The question is on the employment dynamics. Since the beginning of 2018, its quarterly growth has been close to the GDP growth leading to a flat trend in productivity. This is not a positive news. —

> The UK GDP for the third quarter (Nov.11) and Employment for August (Nov.12)
The main concern for the UK is its low productivity growth. Since the beginning of the current recovery, it has grown by only 1%. The change may come in coming months with a downside adjustment on the labor market. —

> GDP growth for the third quarter in Japan (Nov.14)
The figure will take into account the jump in households’ retail sales in September. Their expenditures were increasing to compensate the increase in the VAT rate in October. This is the same phenomena that the one seen in April 2014 with the last TVA rate change. —

> Industrial production index in the US for October (Nov. 15) NY Fed manufacturing survey for November (Nov.15)
The industrial momentum is low in the US as it can be seen with the ISM manufacturing index below the 50 threshold for the last 3 months to October. This will probably push the industrial production index on the downside. —

> Chinese industrial production, retail sales and investment for October (Nov.14)
The momentum is lower in China. It reflects negative external shocks (exports growth is close to zero in recent months) and of an strong internal adjustment (negative growth for imports)

> —Retail sales in the US (Nov.15) and in the UK (Nov.14)
The US sales will continue to be robust as the labor market is still supportive and households are optimistic
In the UK, the perception is weaker as the labor market dynamics has turned negative recently.

> —Inflation in the UK and in the US for October
Will be lower than in September as the energy contribution will be more negative in October. —

> Inflation rates in the Euro Area (15), France (14), Germany(13), Italy(15) and Spain (14)
Confirmation of the flash estimates released at the beginning of the month. The Euro Area inflation rate in October was first estimated at 0.7%

Monetary policy and growth. The world economy at November 4, 2019*

The Federal Reserve, or US central bank, cut back its key rate for the third time this year at its October meeting, after previous moves in July and September. The federal funds rate now stands at 1.5-1.75%, which equates to the range in the dot plot after correction. The Fed also indicated that it does not plan to continue cutting interest rates in the near future.

The interesting aspect of the Fed’s decisions is that they are not dictated by US domestic trends. GDP grew 1.9% in the third quarter on an annualized basis, and 90% of this robust figure is driven by private domestic demand. So we are still seeing the paradoxical situation where the Fed’s decisions are not driven by the US domestic outlook, and we will need to keep an eye on this over the months ahead.

The other interesting aspect of Jay Powell’s press conference is that he only briefly touched on the situation and the glitches on the US money market, yetthis is a very worrying factor as the Fed has injected more than $200bn into its balance sheet to manage this crisis since mid-September. The Fed’s message is that it is not that important, but yet it has added $200bn to its balance sheet, given no explanations and pledged to continue hefty purchases until mid-2020 to ensure that the market remains liquid. This “move along, there’s nothing to see here” approach is disquieting, and we will really need to closely monitor this situation.

Christine Lagarde took over from Mario Draghi as ECB President on November 1, and there are two points worth noting on this change. Firstly, Christine Lagarde seems to be “Draghi-compatible”, and just like the former Italian ECB President, she has also made clear her aim of pursuing the development of the euro area by getting governments more involved and looking more to fiscal policy. She has taken a much more political stance than Draghi could right from this start, and this aspect will be both important and very interesting. The euro area lacks a political dimension, and Christine Lagarde could bring this to the table.

Third-quarter growth figures were issued for several euro area countries over the week. The non-annualized growth trend came out at 0.2% for the euro area as a whole, with 0.4% for Spain and 0.1% for Italy. The French growth figure came to 0.3%, in line with the two previous quarters.

This should lead to 1.2% growth for the euro area as a whole for the full year 2019, with a projected 1.3% for France, 0.2% in Italy and 2% in Spain, which has now made up its lag and is posting less vigorous growth.

Looking to the breakdown of figures for France, domestic demand plays a key role. Economic policy is designed to shore up domestic demand and offset any potential external shocks. It does not drive growth but it does rein in the risk of break points.

Looking to the US, growth we mentioned above for the country came to 1.9% in the third quarter and 0.5% on a non-annualized basis, which should lead to overall 2.3% growth for the full year.

The manufacturing ISM index in the US came out at 48.3 for October vs. 47.8 in September, marking the third month in a row below the 50 mark. Economic momentum is weaker, and out of the 18 manufacturing sectors assessed in the survey, only five stated that they are growing. Domestic demand is also weaker and less robust than a few months ago, so we are seeing the US economy change pace slightly.

US job market figures were also released, but stats for October were fairly solid with the economy creating 128,000 new jobs, plus the 42,100 that could have been created without the General Motors strike. Average private sector monthly job creation figures YTD come to 154,000, which is a solid but not excessive figure, and fairly close to stats in 2017. The White House’s very aggressive fiscal policy in 2018 had driven figures up.

Jobless numbers came to 3.6%, which is very low and the employment rate has increased. The job market is dynamic, and the yoy wage rate increase is only 3%. Wage gains are decreasing each month following on from the high of 3.4% in February.

Inflation in the euro area came out at 0.7% in October vs. 0.8% in September, with this slowdown mainly triggered by energy’s negative -0.3% contribution in October. However, this tendency is set to turn around over the last two months of the year as oil prices collapsed at the end of 2018, so inflation is poised to increase slightly in November and December.

Looking to the week ahead, we note the global ISM index, which is the weighted average of composite indices for the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors in the US, and which usually fairly closely tracks GDP growth trends. September’s figure was particularly low and slightly above the 50 mark, which fits with sluggish growth of 1.5%, so October’s stats will be particularly important in judging the pace of US growth: if it is excessively weak, the Fed could well change its strategy to keep rates on hold that it set out at its latest meeting.

The Markit survey global manufacturing sector figure will also be announced on Monday, and this indicator has pointed to a contraction in world manufacturing since May. Chinese external trade balance figures for October will also be released on November 8, and the decline in imports points to weaker Chinese demand, while stagnating exports reflect lackluster world trade, particularly as it is dictated by US trade policy.  

September’s German industrial orders will be issued on November 6, and the pace is very much in line with OECD corporate investment figures. The slowdown trend witnessed since the start of the year is worrying for future global economic performances.

Have a good week


The post is available in pdf format

  • *Posted on my French blog on Monday the 4th (here)

What to expect this week – 4 November – 10 November 2019

Highlights

> The ISM global index (5) will be the major data this week. It is consistent with the GDP growth momentum and was particularly weak in September compared to what was seen last summer. A weak number may trigger a change in what the Fed could do in a foreseeable future.

> The Services Markit indices will be released on November 5. But the Euro Area data on manufacturing (4) and on services (6) will be released a little later this month as November 1 is off in most continental Europe countries.
The world markit index for the manufacturng sector will be available on Monday
> The Monetary policy Committee of the Bank of England will meet on November 7. Nothing is expected on its monetary policy stance but extension of the Brexit may imply comments on the impact for the UK economy.
> In the US, we look systematically at details on the labor market. The global employment index of the ISM survey and the JOLTS survey will bring these information. The ISM global index on the labor market was below the 50 threshold in September and maybe a source of concern in case a continuous weakness.

> The Chinese external trade (8) will provide new information on the impact of the trade war on the Chinese economy.


> In Germany, there is a string of data with the industrial orders (6) the industrial production index (7) and the trade balance (8). All of them will highlight the impact of the negative environment on the German short term momentum. Will they increase the risk of a long recession ?
> Japanese households’ expenditures in September at the eve of a VAT rate hike (October). In March 2014 they spend a lot just before the higher VAT rate in April 2014. Have we had the same behavior ?
> General elections in Spain (10) – The probability of a strong majority is low

What to expect this week (October 28 – November 3)

Highlights

> The Fed’s meeting with a press conference and a press release on Wednesday. Two questions: are disagreements between FOMC members remain as high as in September ? Will the Fed cut its target rate ? The dots graph suggests a third cut this year.

Christine Lagarde will replace Mario Draghi as president of the ECB next Friday. The balance between politics and economics will be different than in the current mandate. The main task for Christine Lagarde will be to maintain the cohesion of the ECB members at a moment where the monetary policy is already very accommodative and the impact of a change will be questioned and lower than in the past.

On the Brexit side, a vote is expected today on the possibility of general elections on December the 12th  Boris Johnson will probably not have the qualified majority for it.
The EU, in a draft, has proposed an extension of the Brexit until the end of next January.

> GDP figures will be released this week in the US and in France (30) and in the Euro Area, Italy and Spain (31). Expectations are on lower figures than in the second quarter. This would be consistent with the business surveys seen during this third quarter.

> ISM index for the manufacturing sector (November 1) will be key to anticipate the business cycle profile in the US. The index was below the 50 threshold in August and September.

> The Chinese official PMI index (31) and the Markit index for the manufacturing sector (1st )

> The Markit indices for the manufacturing sector will be released on November the 1sr except on Continental Europe.

The US employment report next Friday. The momentum is lower than in the first part of the year even with a very low unemployment rate

Inflation flash estimates will be released in Europe this week. (Euro Area 31). As the oil price is on average lower than in September (53.7 € in October vs 56.7€ in September )  and has to be compared with a high level in October 2018 (70.3€). The energy contribution will be strongly negative and the inflation rate will be probably below the 0.8% seen in September.

The document is available here
NextWeek-October28-November3-2019

nwoct28

What to expect this week (21 October – 27 October 2019)

Highlights

> The ECB meeting (October 24) will be the most important event of the week.
During last meeting, the ECB adopted a very accommodative monetary policy stance. This led to important discussions notably on the resumption of the QE and on the forward guidance as these measures will remain until the EA inflation converges to the ECB target. Nothing new is expected?

> This meeting will be the last for Mario Draghi. He will quit the ECB at the end of this month and be replaced by Christine Lagarde. Draghi has given to the ECB the soul and the instruments that are necessary for an independent and influential central bank (more details on Draghi’s impact on the ECB in the document).

> Many corporate surveys for October will be released during the week. The French “climat des affaires” (23), the German Ifo (25), the Markit flash estimate (24) and CBR orders in the UK (21)
The current mood in developed countries is pessimistic and this will not reverse rapidly. The IMF forecasts was a synthetic view of this backdrop.
A Brexit deal would have had a positive impact but the Parliament has not allowed for it. BoJo has ask for a new delay until the end of next January. This increases uncertainty as we don’t know what will happen in the next three months. Do we converge to a new referendum ? Will Bojo force the Brexit before the end of next January ? Will there be general elections ? No one knows. Many would like to write the future but the recent past has shown that the foreseeable future is not predictable.
There are uncertainties also coming from the discussions between China and the US. Discussions, last week was mainly on agriculture as there is a necessity for the US to reverse the trend coming from the trade war. China now buys soybean in Brazil rather than in the US. This weakens Trump future presidential campaign. The risk associated with this negotiations’ failure is a source of supplementary weakness. The uncertainty for the future is still high and is a constraint for the economic activity.

> Durable goods orders in the US for September (24).
These numbers have not been strong recently and could reflect a weakness in corporate investment in coming months.
> Existing homes sales in the US for September (22)
This statistic is important as it reflects a kind of wealth effect. Thera are more house owners in the US than people having a large portfolio of risky assets. Movement in the real estate has therefore more impact on consumers’ behavior than the stock market can have. The existing home sales is for me the most important statistic that shows this wealth effect. Recent improvement was supportive for consumers’ expenditures.

The detailed document is available here
NextWeek-October21-October27-2019

What to expect this week (14 October – 20 October 2019)

Highlights

> Next Tuesday, the IMF will release its new forecasts. Comments are bearish, the global economic outlook will weaker than last spring or last July forecasts. In July, the world output growth was expected to be 3.2 % in 2019 and 3.5% in 2020. For the US, numbers were 2,6 and 1.9, for the Euro Area 1.3 and 1.6% and for China 6.2 and 6%.

> The other political event will be the European Summit on Brexit. It will take place on October 17 and 18.  Two questions: will there be a new agreement between the UK and the European Union and will this agreement, if it exists, be voted by the Parliament in London ? If it is not the case, BoJo will have to ask for a delay. The Parliament want to postpone the Brexit until January the 30th , 2020.
> The most important element this week on monetary policy will be the Fed’s Beige Book. Fed’s members are considering a new drop of the US central bank’s interest rate in December (according to the dots’ graph). It will depend on the economic outlook. The Beige Book will give information on this point for a foreseeable future. We will look specifically at elements associated with the international trade.

> Industrial production indices for September in the US (17) and in China (18). August figures were lower in August and negative in the US. We can’t expect a reversal. In the Euro Area the industrial production index for August will be released (14). Could be quite strong after German, Italian and Spanish numbers.

> The inflation rate will be confirmed at 0.9% in the Euro area for September (16). The major question on inflation will be for China as pig price has recently pushed up the inflation rate. It will be released on October 15.
> Chinese foreign trade for the month of September (14). The dynamics of exports is still the key point of this statistic in order to perceive the impact of US tariff measures.

> Retail sales in the US (16), China (18) and the UK (17). These numbers have been rather strong in recent months notably in the US.  We expect robust data in the US but weaker in the UK according to the BRC survey. In China the mild rebound seen recently should hold in September.

> Real estate data will be released in the US notably the Housing Starts figure. The data was stronger than expected in August. Will it last confirming the reversal of the real estate market ?

The detailed document is here
NextWeek-October14-October20-2019