“China’s automobile market, the world’s largest, recorded its first annual decline in more than two decades last year as new car sales slumped amid a slowing economy and rising trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.
“The China Passenger Car Association said Wednesday that sale fell 6% over the whole of 2018 to just over 22.7 million units. That figure is firmly ahead of the 17.5 million tally recorded in the U.S., but shows the first year-on-year decline since the early 1990s.”
“Chinese policy makers are continuing their piecemeal approach to arresting the slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy, as further details emerged of measures to ensure credit to small businesses and ease their tax burden.
“Late Wednesday, state media announced a package of tax cuts for small and micro-sized businesses — the backbone of the economy — worth 200 billion yuan ($29 billion) per year over the next three years.”
“China is adding more challenges to the global economy this year, beyond the trade conflict that’s rattling financial markets.
“Economists now see the threat of deflation in the manufacturing nation after producer price inflation slowed sharply in December…”
“Three days of trade negotiations between midlevel American and Chinese officials ended in Beijing on Wednesday afternoon with progress in identifying and narrowing the two sides’ differences but little sense of when they might reach a deal.”
“The worst housing downturn in Australia for 35 years.”
“We think the steep downturn in house prices exposes Australia to the risk of recession, particularly in the context of an exogenous shock such as slowdown in Chinese growth.”
“Our models show that Australian households are most exposed of any G10 country to a housing slump and face a period of deleveraging, leaving growth heavily reliant on public spending on health, education and infrastructure.”
““The outlook for the global economy in 2019 has darkened.”
“That conclusion came from a new report from the World Bank, citing a variety of data… One of the key backdrops to this assessment is the rate tightening from the U.S. Federal Reserve. “Advanced-economy central banks will continue to remove the accommodative policies that supported the protracted recovery from the global financial crisis ten years ago,” the World Bank report said.”
“The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis said he’s concerned that any more interest-rate increases could push the U.S. economy into a recession.
““We’ve got a good level of the policy rate today” and there’s no urgent need to go higher, James Bullard, a voting member this year on the Federal Open Market Committee, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Wednesday…”
“U.S. non-financial firms are increasingly having difficultly earning enough to make interest payments on their debt, which is expanding faster than the economy, according to a report from the Institute of International Finance.
“While Federal Reserve officials acknowledge the possibility of a pause in monetary policy tightening this year, U.S. companies have already begun to have trouble servicing their debt.”
“British retailers failed to increase their Christmas sales for the first time since the depths of the global financial crisis a decade ago, adding to signs of an economic slowdown ahead of Brexit.
“Consumer spending appears to be fading fast after a summer surge as concerns among shoppers about the outlook for 2019 outweigh the benefit from weaker inflation and a modest pick-up in wages.”
“Britain’s biggest carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is set to announce “substantial” job cuts in the thousands, a source told Reuters, as the company faces double-digit drops in demand in China and a slump in sales for diesel cars in Europe.”
“The U.K.’s departure from the European Union is fast approaching and as politicians prepare to vote on the divorce terms agreed upon by Prime Minister Theresa May and Brussels, opinion polls show the public remains just as divided over Brexit.
“That has major implications for all parties especially if, as expected, May can’t secure parliamentary backing for her deal.”
“Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro begins another six years in power Thursday with a collapsing economy that shows no sign of bottoming out and a threat from some Latin American neighbors who say they will not recognize his government.
And still, there are few in or outside of Venezuela who are predicting Maduro’s downfall in 2019 or beyond.”
“The double whammy of biting fuel shortages and steep transport fares is leaving thousands of commuters stranded — forcing many of them to hitch precarious rides on lorries and pick-up trucks, in the latest desperate scenes to afflict long-suffering Zimbabweans…
“Zimbabwe has, for a long time now, been struggling to pay its foreign suppliers of fuel and other commodities — due to its dire finances which economists say has been worsened by corruption and mismanagement.”