“A UN trade official has warned a US plan to raise tariffs on Chinese goods next month would have “massive” implications for the global economy.
“The US plans to increase tariffs on Chinese goods if the two sides fail to make progress on a trade deal by 1 March.
“The comments followed a report by a UN trade agency on the impact of the US-China trade war. It said Asian countries are likely to suffer most from protectionism.
“The US and China are locked in a damaging trade dispute that has seen both sides levy tariffs on billions of dollars worth of one another’s goods.
“In December, both countries agreed to hold off on new tariffs for 90 days to allow for talks.
“The US and China have a deadline of 1 March to strike a deal, or the US has said it will increase tariff rates on $200bn (£152bn) worth of Chinese goods from 10% to 25%.
“The UN Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) has warned that there will be huge costs if the trade war escalates.
“”The implications are going to be massive,” Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Unctad’s head of international trade, said at a news conference.
“”The implications for the entire international trading system will be significantly negative.””
“A peculiar complacency has settled on the world over America’s hardening confrontation with China.
“The world’s two greatest powers are punishing each other with harsh sanctions as they renegotiate their relationship in talks that broke up last week with the barest of a beginning of an agreement.”
““For U.S. soy producers, if the trade war ends tomorrow, we will likely not get back to where we were before the trade war started,” Mark Albertson, director of strategic market development at the Illinois Soybean Association, told the South China Morning Post (SCMP).
““It’s not just alarming, it’s terrifying.””
“Factory orders in the U.S. fell more sharply than expected in November, adding to a litany of reports showing a slowdown in growth in the industrial segment of the economy toward the end of 2018.
“A key measure of business investment also declined. Orders dropped 0.6% in November.”
“A one-year slide in Canadian consumer confidence showed little sign of improving in January…
“…with sentiment levels hovering at depressed levels amid turmoil in financial markets and signs the nation’s economy has hit a soft patch.”
“The Reserve Bank [of Australia] has kept interest rates on hold despite mounting evidence the economy is cooling rapidly and consumers are shutting up shop. Consumers tightened their spending in December with shops reporting their biggest fall in sales in a year. Souring consumer sentiment points to further economic weakness as the impact of falling house prices bite…”
“Growth in the [UK] construction sector softened to its lowest level in 10 months in January, with experts predicting the industry could slip into recession soon if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
“The purchasing managers’ index (PMI), a measure of business activity and confidence, slipped to 50.6 in January, just above the 50 mark that divides growth from contraction”
“Eurozone investor confidence has sunk to a four-year low as Brexit uncertainty and Germany’s continued slowdown added to the bloc’s woes. The Sentix Index, which monitors investor sentiment across the single currency bloc, fell to -3.7 for February, following a survey of more than 1,000 investors. Although the latest figures avoided a recession, Sentix said the growth seemed to be “weakening dangerously quickly and strongly.””
“With fixed exchange rates and some of the world’s worst debt and balance-of-payment ratios, Lebanon’s newly-formed government knows it needs to act fast to avoid sinking into a full-blown economic crisis.
“Lebanon’s 150 percent debt-to-GDP level and its near 25 percent current account gap are its most worrying statistics. Moody’s estimates the interest bill from its debt alone absorbs roughly half of all government revenues and represents about one-third of total government spending.”
“Turkish sales of cars and light commercial vehicles slid an annual 59 percent in January, reflecting the depth of an economic downturn that began in the third quarter of last year.
“Sales fell to 14,373 units from 35,076 units in January 2018, according to figures published by the Automotive Distributors Association (ODD) on Monday. The decline followed a decrease of 43 percent in December.”
“The UK, France, Germany, Spain and other European countries have officially recognised opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president of Venezuela.
“It comes after President Nicolás Maduro defiantly rejected a deadline they set for Sunday to call fresh elections. Mr Guaidó declared himself interim leader last month and won US backing.”
“”With [Venezeula’s] refineries in precarious condition and without access to imported refined productions, PDVSA will have to ration fuel sold in the local markets,” said Ivan Freites, a PDVSA union leader.
“Amid the political crisis, fuel inventories are at critical levels… According to the PDVSA technical report seen by S&P Global Platts, gasoline inventories have been exhausted while levels of diesel and LPG are enough to last only two days on average.”
“The problem is that even if the Fed were to respond to a burst bubble by lowering rates, it wouldn’t fix the bursting bubble. A little mitigation, maybe, but not a fix. That’s because the price of borrowing on margin is only one factor…
“The Fed cannot cure a bursting bubble once the crowd is in the grip of panic. But can the Fed prevent a bursting bubble? Well, no, not unless it started some form of QE that involved buying equities. Don’t laugh—they do it in Japan. But the conventional method, injecting more cash, into a bursting bubble is the same thing as injecting more germs into a diseased body.”