Recession risks in the Euro Area, not yet in the US

Markit surveys for September show a slow momentum in the Euro area and in the US.
The synthetic index for the Euro Area (weighted average of the manufacturing and non manufacturing synthetic indices) is now close to 50 leading to weaker expectations for the Q3 GDP growth. This reinforces me that GDP growth for 2019 will be circa 1.1%. The impact of the new ECB monetary policy will not lead to an impulse on the upside.

In the US, the synthetic Markit index for the whole economy shows a meager rebound in September despite a stronger manufacturing index. The non manufacturing index has been quite weak in September at 50.9 after 50.7 in August. The services sector doesn’t counterbalance the lack of impulse of the manufacturing sector.The global index is now way below the level seen until last spring and is consistent with a slowdown in the US GDP growth as it was seen in 2016. The more accommodative US monetary policy will not change the picture.

In the short term, the main risk remains in the manufacturing sector. European indices are weak, notably in Germany. This may lead to a recession in this country with a contagion risk to the rest of the euro area. Nevertheless, in the case of a deep recession in Germany, the government would be more active on its fiscal policy, limiting therefore the risk of a recession for the whole zone. This would be the chance for the Eurozone.
Inb September, the US is weak but stabilized. The risk of recession is still low at this moment.

What to expect next week ? (September 23 – September 29, 2019)

Highlights

> Corporate surveys will highlight the business cycle foreseeable future. The IFO will be released on Tuesday 24 as will be the French Climat des Affaires. The French momentum is currently higher than in Germany as this latter is more exposed to the international backdrop. The Italian survey on corporate confidence will be out on September the 27th and may show the impact of a pro-European government on corporate confidence.

> Markit surveys, flash estimates, will be released on Monday the 23rd for the Euro Area, France, Germany and the US. The Japanese release will be done on September the 24th. These surveys are important but I will carefully look at the New Export Order indices in the Euro Area, US and Japan. Its average is clearly consistent with the world trade profile. In August it was as low as 46.6 giving a signal of continuous contraction in trade. September date will be important.

> Consumer confidence in the US (24 for the conference board and 27 for the Michigan), in France (25), Germany(26) and Italy (27). The US conference board will give us relevant signals on the US labor market dynamics. France index will remain above its average, way above the level it has a year ago when the yellow vests demonstrations started.

> Consumption expenditures in the US (27) and Fed’s preferred measure for inflation for August will be released on August the 27th. Consumers’ behavior is the strongest support of the current US growth momentum. Nevertheless it can be very volatile. We expect that it will be strong in August, consistently with retail sales. No strong expectations on inflation. The July core inflation rate is 1.6%.

> Inflation for September in France and Spain.
> New Home sales in August in the US. The real estate market has been stronger recently. A confirmation is expected as interest rates were low in August.

The document is available here
NextWeek-September 23- September 29-2019

What to expect next week ? (July 1 – July 7, 2019)

Highlights

  • The ISM index for the manufacturing sector (July 1) will be the main indicator in the coming week. The slowdown in the US business cycle may be confirmed in June. 
  • The US labor market is the other main indicator (July 7). Its dynamics has recently changed as it adjusts to the new business cycle shape.
  • The Markit indices for the manufacturing sector (July 1) and for the services sector (July 3) will show the risk of a global recession for the manufacturing sector. The hope for the Eurozone is a strong services sector index that will allow an extension of the growth momentum.
    The Tankan survey in Japan will be out on July 1.
  • Employment in Germany for June (July 1) and retail sales for May (July 3) will show the possibility of maintaining a robust domestic demand or if it is necessary to have a stronger economic policy to cushion the impact of world trade negative shock on the German economy.
  • Retail sales in the Euro Area (July 4) for May will be a good proxy on the strength of the internal demand for the Euro zone.

    The document is here NextWeek-July1-July7-2019

What to expect next week ?

What do I expect as being important next week: 7 points at least
Markit and ISM indices in the manufacturing sector (June 3)
German Industrial Orders for April (June 6)
US employment for May (June 7)
Euro Area inflation rate for May (June 4)
 ECB meeting (June 6)
Trade war (no specific date)
Inversion of the US yield curve
The document is available here What to expect Next Week June 3 – June 7 2019

The Euro zone slows sharply in March

The publication March’s Markit indices confirms the downward pressure on activity in the manufacturing sector. The leading indices published for the Euro zone, Germany and France, on March 22, have been revised downward. This is never a very good signal as to the strength of the activity. This revision was marginal in the Euro zone (from 47.6 to 47.5) and in France (49.8 to 49.7) but more marked in Germany from 44.7 to 44.1. This latter has not been so low since July 2012.
For the Euro zone, the index has not been as low since June 2013 but at the time the movement was bullish while here it reflects a deterioration of the activity.
For the other two major countries, Spain and Italy, there is a slight rebound in Spain from 49.9 in February to 50.9 in March, but the Italian situation continues to deteriorate, from 47.7 to 47.4.

A good explanation is the pace of international trade. Germany is frankly penalized by the contraction of trade due to an openness rate higher than 44% of GDP. Any shock on world trade has an immediate impact on it.
More generally, because of the intensive trade between countries of the zone, any external shock is amplified by a contagion effect and penalizes the activity of all. This had been a very positive uptrend in 2017 but is declining today.
Germany saw its export orders revised downwards compared to the March estimate (38.9 vs. 39.5 initially). For France, the figure is unchanged.

The proactive economic policy of the Eurozone can only be seen on monetary side with a very accommodative policy but it cannot go further in that direction to limit the impact and the spillover effect of the shock. Except for a sudden and unexpected reversal of world trade, the trend in the Euro zone is here to stay. It should be possible to support domestic demand for this through budgetary means. This is not the current mood at the European level even if France plays constrained by the social unrest

The shock in the manufacturing sector in Germany: IFO vs Markit

The modest rebound in the IFO index in March is sometimes interpreted as the counterpoint to the drop of the Markit index released last Friday.
There is indeed an opposition in March between the pace of the two indicators. One goes up again while the other is down.

However, what shocked in the Markit survey is the sharp downturn in the manufacturing sector, while the services sector was doing quite well. The manufacturing index was 44.7 against 47.6 in February. It contracts for the third month in a row. In contrast, the composite services indicator (calculated as the non-manufacturing ISM) is stable in March at 53.7 as in February.
The culprit is the manufacturing index. Yet when comparing the manufacturing index of Markit and that of the IFO we have exactly the same profile.

The peak of the two indices is almost the same and the break observed since the beginning of 2018 is similar.
The shock on the German economy reflects the rapid slowdown in the world trade momentum. The impact on the German economy is through the manufacturing sector whether measured by IFO or Markit.
The pace of service between the two measures is not the same and this is what differentiates synthetic indicators from the two surveys. But services are more reflective of the domestic market than the sensitivity of the German economy to world trade via the manufacturing sector.
The external shock is strong and brutal in Germany and it has first to be stabilized before the beginning of a recovery. It will take time and this justifies the pessimistic forecasts for Germany.