Each country for itself – My Monday column

Growth has made a comeback but each country already wants to take its own path. Unity is no longer on the cards and the world economy is fast going down a very different road.

During the recovery in 2016 and 2017, the worldwide situation was relatively stable, with no major imbalances, and the central banks cut some slack when required to make it through any bumpy patches. This approach worked fairly well as the pace across the various areas of the world became more uniform, driving growth and trade momentum, and economists were constantly forced to upgrade their forecasts.

But those days are gone, and this cooperative and coordinated dimension has disappeared. Continue reading

Six major changes since the financial crisis – My Monday column

Developed countries’ economies were enjoying robust growth in the first half of 2008, despite some initial cracks that had been appearing since the previous summer. That was ten years ago, and since then, world economic dynamics have transformed completely, as the sources of momentum and adjustment systems have changed, especially in developed countries.

We could potentially identify a whole raft of differences but I have focused on six that I feel are useful in helping us understand the new world economic order.

1 – World trade is no longer growing at the same pace

World trade has entirely changed pace since the crisis in 2008. Before that date, it fluctuated fairly broadly around a trend estimated at 6.8% per year in volume terms, thereby creating a strong source of momentum in each economy and driving economic growth, with an overall virtuous dynamic between trade and economic activity.
But since 2011, world trade has seen little fluctuation and the trend is now at 2.3%. The turning point in 2011 can be attributed to austerity policies and in particular programs implemented in Europe. So momentum that can be expected across the rest of the world is no longer on a par with past showings. This change is significant for Europe as the continent used to wait for the rest of the world to pick up a pace before staging its own improvement, and this explains the systematic time lag in the cycle between the US, which traditionally recovered very sharply after a negative shock, and Europe, which always seemed to be lagging slightly. Continue reading

Davos, Trump, China and French growth – My Monday column

The world balance is changing under the influence of China as it seeks to establish a different path for globalization. America is trying to stage a response at Davos with the White House realizing that America needs its partners in order to be great again. Meanwhile, French growth is running into physical obstacles: the 2% trend is a peak, at least in the short term. 

.    .    .

We saw a surprising development in Davos last week when the US President backtracked on world trade and his global economy model, as the White House indicated that it no longer sees the economy as a zero-sum game, contrary to its stance so far. Continue reading

A Worldwide Dilemma For 2018: Retreating Inward or Joining Forces?

Which side will win out in the current confrontation playing out across the world? The inward-looking attitude that has been so widespread these past months aims at taking power back locally. Meanwhile, the more cooperative approach involves joining forces to address global challenges and is based on continued dialogue. The choice between these two world views will be the key challenge for 2018.
The world is no longer quite so unanimous in its enthusiasm for globalization.

The cooperative dynamics we saw before the 2008 crisis are no longer the dominant force, and this shift was laid bare during the various elections and the referendums of recent times, as globalization and its cooperative approach did not lead to even distribution of wealth, particularly in developed countries. Branko Milanovic’s famous elephant curve was often held up as an example to demonstrate that the most badly off workers in the western countries had paid the price of globalization and swift growth in emerging countries, such as China and India. Continue reading

The virtuous loop between activity in the manufacturing sector and world trade

Image

The world trade rebound will continue in the forthcoming months. That’s what the graph between world trade growth and the Markit index suggests. The robust level of the manufacturing index is consistent with a stronger momentum on world trade.
Every region of the world shows an improvement in the manufacturing activity according to Markit. This will support a balanced growth scheme at the world level.A higher Markit index will boost trade and therefore world growth.

markitworld&worldtrade

The momentum at the world level is strong and robust. The Euro Area is in a catchup period with a high momentum on new orders and on employment. The business cycle is virtuous. There are reasons to be optimistic on the Eurozone environment.
The situation is more specific in the US after hurricanes. The most important contributor to the ISM increase is the item on delivery. There were strong needs and it was difficult to deliver due to disruption and delays.
The situation is robust in Japan and the Brits are still optimistic on their activity.
Indices for emerging countries are robust. The situation is good for emerging countries: growth in developed countries + higher commodity prices + growth in China is steady + good financial conditions (the impact of Fed’s hikes on interest rates have been very limited)
The marginal slowdown is associated with a marginally lower index in China.
world-markit-sept-2017

manuf-wiorld-tr_.png

My Macroeconomic column in 8 points (October the 26th)

Published in French on October the 26th – Data expected this week but already published are briefly discussed.

8 points to keep in mind this week to highlight the macroeconomic momentum

1 – The improvement of the French economy is the real good news
The business climate index, published by INSEE the French Statistical Institute, is above its historical average for the first time since August 2011.
It shows how deep and persistent was the negative shock that has hit the French economy since this period. Looking at the different sectors, building construction is the only one being still on the weak side. Services, Industry and retail trade contribute positively to growth.
france-2015-october-business climateFor the French economy we also notice in the INSEE quarterly survey that expected demand is improving rapidly. Continue reading