“Three of the world’s largest automakers added to the industry’s gloom this week by warning that 2019 is looking increasingly bleak, with little hope of an end to a Chinese slowdown or the changing customer tastes that are forcing costly overhauls to their model lines.
“The pessimistic outlook for the year ahead from Toyota, General Motors and Daimler — which together account for one in five vehicles sold globally — was accompanied by reports of dismal results for the year just concluded, with all three announcing a fall in profits…
“…the results were sobering. Daimler, maker of Mercedes-Benz, reported a 28 per cent fall in net profits to €7.6b ($12.2b) in 2018; Toyota said net profit last month fell 81 per cent; and GM reported an 8 per cent drop in the fourth quarter.
“More worryingly, all three also said they saw little sign of relief ahead.”
“PMIs… track most major economies and work by polling the people who sit in the center of a company’s supply chain and make decisions about whether to order more supplies, or change inventories or prices to meet shifting demand for a company’s products.
“These are the people that see the demand pressure first and have to respond to it,” said Tim Fiore, the chief procurement officer for Ryder System Inc., a truck leasing and fleet-management company, who also oversees the PMI survey produced by the Institute for Supply Management. “They’re tied into production and have to respond when new orders come in.”
“Over the past year, purchasing managers sounded an early and persistent warning: The health of the global economy, especially its manufacturing sector, was sputtering.”
“ArcelorMittal [the world’s top steelmaker] said it expects a drop in Chinese steel demand and weakness in the U.S. and Europe, reinforcing concerns that dark clouds are gathering over the global economy.
“The steel industry faces macro-economic risks and persistent oversupply, ArcelorMittal said in a statement. Smaller steelmakers around the world have recently raised the alarm on a darkening outlook, with Salzgitter AG earlier this week pointing to “gloomier sentiment and numerous economic and political uncertainties.””
“The slump across the construction industry has become more deeply entrenched, with activity in the key residential sector experiencing its sharpest decline in more than six years…
“The Australian Industry Group/Housing Industry Association Australian Performance of Construction Index (PCI) found that, while there was broad-based weakness across all construction sectors, the contraction in residential activity continued to accelerate last month as demand dried up and prices fell.”
“German industrial output unexpectedly fell in December for the fourth consecutive month, data showed on Thursday, sending another signal that growth in Europe’s biggest economy is weakening.
“Data from the Federal Statistics Office showed industrial output was down by 0.4 percent, confounding a Reuters forecast for an increase of 0.7 percent.”
“The UK financial watchdog has asked for daily updates from property funds after anxious investors withdrew hundreds of millions of pounds amid Brexit uncertainty, stoking fears of another liquidity crunch.
“Retail investors withdrew £315m from property funds in December, according to Morningstar.”
“The effects of U.S. trade unknowns, lower oil prices and weaker housing and consumer spending are behind the recent deceleration in economic growth, a Bank of Canada deputy governor said in a speech Wednesday. To help the economy get through this “temporary” soft patch, Timothy Lane is expecting the lower Canadian dollar to provide support.”
“The financial crisis of 2008-2009, the worst since the Great Depression, was hard on all Americans. But arguably no group felt its sting more than African-Americans, who were already the most economically and financially vulnerable segment of the population going into it.
“Even today, a decade since the Great Recession hit, blacks still haven’t fully recovered and remain in a precarious financial condition. What’s worse, Wall Street and policy makers are beginning to worry another downturn may be on the horizon.”
“Peter Boockvar at Bleakley Financial Group is …warning that the adoption of a negative interest-rate policy by the central bank would have dire consequences for markets.
““NIRP in the U.S. would blow up the money-market industry, the source of $3 trillion of funding for a variety of short-term debt,” wrote Boockvar, the firm’s chief investment officer, in a Feb. 5 note to clients. “How exactly would a tax on capital lead to faster growth?””
“Activists suspect Nicolás Maduro has tasked Faes with pacifying the city’s barrios in bid to snuff out protest in areas once considered the cradle of Chavismo…
““They want to silence the barrios because we are the most affected [by the crisis],” she added. “They want to silence the barrios – but it’s impossible because people have had enough.””