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 next week ? (September 16 – September 22, 2019)

Highlights

> The Fed’s meeting (18) will be the important event of the week. We expect a 25bp drop in the Fed’s main rate and nothing on the balance sheet policy.
The important point will be Powell’s explanation of this move at his press conference. In July, the main explanations of the 25 bp drop were external factors (trade, global growth). Will these elements remain the principal explanation ? What will be the new growth forecasts consistent with this new monetary policy stance ?

> The US industrial momentum (17) will be an important data as the ISM synthetic index for August dropped below the 50 threshold at 49.1. The consistency between the two indicators suggests that the industrial production index YoY change could go in negative territory.  Will the industrial index follow this dynamics in August?
The Empire state (16) and the PhilyFed (19) will give information on the economic situation in September

> The ZEW (17) in Germany for September  will be key to anticipate the possibility of a German recession and therefore the possibility for a more proactive fiscal policy. Draghi, in his press conference last Thursday, said that a eurozone fiscal policy would be complementary to the ECB monetary policy to boost growth and inflation.

> Chinese number (16) will show how the economic policy efficiency of an arbitrage between an external negative shock and the necessity to feed the domestic demand to stabilize the economic activity. Industrial production was weak in July while retail sales were stronger than a few months ago.
> Retail sales in the UK (19) in the midst of a political mayhem. What has been consumers’ behavior ? Have they increased their stocks to prevent the impact of a no deal Brexit ?
> US housing market with Housing starts (18) and Existing home sales (19)? The market is quite stable.
> In Brazil, the Selic will not be pushed down at the next monetary policy meeting (18) as the Brazilian central bank has had strong intervention on the forex market to limit the depreciation of the real.

The detailed document is here
NextWeek-September16-September22-2019

What to expect next week ? (August 26 – September 1, 2019)

Highlights

> GDP figures for the second quarter in the US (29), Germany (27), Italy (30) and France (29) will give details on the composition of growth in all these countries, providing a better understanding of the current situation. This will be particularly important at this stage of the business cycle, notably because there are fears of recession in Germany and Italy.

> Many surveys on economic activity. IFO in Germany (26), climat des affaires in France (27) and Business confidence in Italy (28). Risk of a weaker index in Germany and in Italy after the political mayhem seen in August.

> Consumer confidence in the UK (30), one month after Boris Johnson has been appointed as prime minister.
Consumer confidence in the US (August 27) will bring details on the labor market dynamics at a moment where the situation is changing in the US (Markit index for the manufacturing sector at 49.9 in August)
> CPI figures in the Euro Area for August and in the US for July that will bolster central banks in their will to become more and more accommodative.

The detailed document is available here
NextWeek-August26-September1-2019

US-Chinese tension makes for a fascinating time in history

Donald Trump’s tweets on May 5 fueled tension between China and the US, dramatically triggering renewed speculation on the conditions of any fresh trade deal. China retaliated to fresh US border tariffs on its goods by applying taxes to US imports. This move interrupts a long period of calm that had kicked off after the G20 meeting on December 1 (see my blog post dated February 21 2019 here)

Donald Trump’s drive to apply fresh tariffs on China reflects his determination to bring jobs back to the US – especially in the manufacturing sector – and also ease the country’s dependence on China. 
The country had a $419bn trade deficit with China in 2018 due to hefty imports of goods into the US, while conversely American companies struggled to export sufficiently to China. The chart above makes for a perfect illustration of this tricky situation for the US.
The situation recently became a lot more challenging, as the flipside of this Chinese trade surplus with the US was its financing for the US economy via US Treasuries purchases in particular. This set-up worked for a long time and it acted as a way for the two countries to remain tied together, as Chinese goods found a market in the US while China financed the US economy to make up for Americans’ insufficient savings. The US-Chinese relationship was based on a complementary approach, but this balance is shifting as China’s contribution to financing of the US economy has been decreasing over the past several months. In March 2019, the proportion of US financial assets held by China as part of the United States’ total external financing returned to lows witnessed in June 2006. 
The balance between the two countries is changing and the US can no longer have the same influence on China that it had in the past. China is standing apart and wants to achieve greater independence.

The White House is also running out of patience with China taking its time to meet its requests. By taxing Chinese imports, Washington is seeking to dent economic activity in the country, and there is a danger that this will generate severe social tension and force the Chinese government’s hand, as it did not want to take this social risk. Sluggish Chinese economic indicators since the start of the year could lend credence to Washington’s approach, and prompt it to take an even harder line on trade, yet this approach is not necessarily the right one. 

At the beginning of 2019, the weight of the United States in Chinese exports slowed down considerably. Chinese dependence on the US is reversing, while at the same time, the Chinese are relaunching the “Belt and Road Initiative” whose objective is to further diversify the Chinese market. China is expanding its markets and is effectively limiting the influence of the United States on its economy.

The other major disagreement between Washington and Beijing is on technology, andin my view, this is the main bone of contention between the two countries. China’s technology has caught up very swiftly over the past twenty years via technology transfers and by setting aside substantial resources to facilitate this fast progress. This approach worked well, and China now has some headway over the US, particularly in 5G and artificial intelligence. 
The United States’ loss of technological supremacy is a radical change as China has the resources to develop these technologies without US support. This kind of situation could have emerged with Japan a few years ago, but Japan always remained within the US sphere of influence… the same cannot be said of China. The country has a huge domestic market, while development outside the country is vast, so this can now generate self-sustaining technological momentum. 

Washington has been particularly tense on this issue over recent months, with sanctions against ZTE in April 2018, and in particular against Huawei in December 2018 attesting to this strain. European governments have also come under pressure to steer clear of Chinese technology (read here). More recently, Donald Trump blacklisted Huawei (read herebehind paywall), while other Chinese companies no longer have access to the US market such as China Mobile (read herearticle in French).

The stakes are very straightforward – the country that decides the standards for these new technologies will gain a massive competitive advantage and be able to more easily develop innovations using these technologies. This is the stumbling block for negotiations as China has invested substantial resources to notch up this technological advantage and does not want to be dictated to by the US. Similarly, it seems unthinkable that the US would spontaneously accept China’s progress and be dictated to by the country in order to use its technologies. 

This technological battle of wills will not be resolved by itself. Neither country is set to give in, so an agreement looks unlikely, unless the Chinese economy takes a severe downturn, but this is not part of our scenario.
However, it does not stop there. Development of 5G for example is at the heart of a number of innovations and countries outside China and the US are developing businesses that use this technology. This means that developing these innovations on a mass scale will probably require use of Chinese technology, and this is set to trigger more tension with the US. Emmanuel Macron has already made his position clear on this issue (see statement at the Vivatech event here). 

The dynamics of the world economy are changing, but the new world order is not going to emerge straight away. This is the first time in history we have seen this kind of situation, and the first time that the world economy could shift towards a new region as a result of technological innovation. When the center of gravity of the world economy shifted from the UK to the US, there was still a degree of continuity, but the same cannot be said of today’s situation. And Europe will also have to find its place in this new order. 
This transformation will overturn the dynamics of the world economy and change the entire balance between the various regions of the world. 
What a fascinating time to observe world events.

Reversal of the US labor market ?

The labor market indicator in the Conference Board household survey changed trend in March. It is always easy to find a job but the indicator is now on the downside.
Given the strong link with JOLTS labor market indicator, one may wonder about a possible reversal of the US labor market.
This is a signal that seems relevant to me (see here for longer data and more in-depth analysis).