Red Lights Blinking for the US Economy:
“Economic expansions never go on forever. As the United States’ long, slow recovery from the Great Recession stretches past the decade mark, regulators and economists are starting to get a little jumpy.
“So where’s the bubble that will trigger the next downturn? Housing, like the last time? Corporations up to their gills in debt? Or something else economists haven’t even spotted yet?
“Certain indicators already show softening, from capital expenditures to to manufacturing sentiment to residential construction. The question is whether that’s just a cooling off — or the beginning of a steeper slide.”
“European auto stocks extended losses on Tuesday after a German magazine reported that U.S. President Donald Trump could impose tariffs on imported cars from next week. Wirtschaftswoche cited “EU sources” as saying a U.S. Department of Commerce investigation report was on Trump’s desk, adding: “Trump will possibly decide on tariffs as early as next week after the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires.””
“Two German banks – Deutsche Bank and Nord-LB – scored in the bottom 10 in the latest round of pan-European stress tests, published earlier this month.
“That added to investor concern about the two weak links among German banks, just as the euro zone’s largest economy began to slow and financial markets were in turmoil.”
“There is a “real prospect” of “major disruption” at UK ports in the case of a no-deal Brexit, according to MPs. The Public Accounts Committee said government preparations for avoiding disruption around major ports were “worryingly under-developed”.
“Committee members also said there was a “real risk” the Department for Transport (DfT) would not be ready for a hard Brexit.”
“EU government representatives are set to back on Thursday the European Commission’s disciplinary move against Italy over its debt, according to two European Union sources and a document seen by Reuters.”
“The ongoing slump in oil prices, which has seen crude fall so sharply from the 52-week high set in October that $1 trillion has been wiped off energy stocks, will cut deep into the pockets of major producers like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Nigeria and Angola. As the world heads into an “unprecedented time of uncertainty” in oil markets, however, it’s not only OPEC members who will suffer. Even countries who are less naturally exposed to fluctuations in oil rents, such as Malaysia and Canada, are more vulnerable than usual to the current oil price crash thanks to poor policymaking.”
“Four out of every 10 people in Nigeria’s workforce are either unemployed or underemployed. The unemployment rate stood at 18.8 percent in the third quarter of 2017, with underemployment at 21.2 percent.
“The National Bureau of Statistics has not released new jobs data since last year, prompting accusations by critics that this is due to political reasons.”
“The United Nations on Monday announced $9.2 million in health and nutritional aid for crisis-stricken Venezuela, where hunger and preventable disease are soaring amid the collapse of the country’s socialist economic system… Government critics celebrated the move as a recognition by Venezuelan authorities that the country faces a humanitarian crisis – something Maduro has denied in the past – and a step toward treating a population starved of basic services.”
“Earlier this year, the Bank for International Settlements (bis) published the latest edition of its report “Early Warning Indicators of Banking Crises.”
“The report measures a number of national economies against metrics that predict future banking crises. As Geopolitical Futures reported, Canada’s economy is headed in a very dangerous direction.”
“Chinese steel producers ran up losses for the first time in three years in November as prices slid into a bear market on weak demand and near-record supply, ending years of solid profit margins. Traders and analysts say that as the world’s second-largest economy cools and it faces higher risk in a trade war with the US, its steelmakers are likely to feel more pain unless China launches fresh stimulus measures.”
“China’s coal imports are set to slump in December as traders and utilities wind back purchases following signals from Beijing that it will stop clearing shipments until next year, trading companies and utilities told Reuters… domestic coal prices have eased in recent months, even as China enters its peak demand season over winter, with utilities sitting on record coal stocks amid a slowdown in electricity demand growth.”
“The sluggish growth recorded in recent economic data, alongside downward pressure on the price of crude oil and ferrous metals, have added to the market’s anxiety about deflation, the Securities Daily reported. Pan Xiangdong, chief economist of New Era Securities, believes that investors should be wary of deflation risks when the price of crude oil and ferrous metals are declining at the same time.”
“Global trade growth will continue to decelerate in the final quarter of 2018, the World Trade Organization said. Further “moderation” in WTO trade-growth projections is due to an overall decline in export orders, the WTO said in its latest World Trade Outlook Indicator report released on Monday. Production and sales of automobiles, electrical components and agricultural raw materials are below trend, according to the report.”