“Almost every major economy is slowing down as the global economic squeeze tightens, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has warned.
“The analysts slashed their forecast for GDP as slowing trade growth, political tensions, and higher interest rates have all knocked the economy…
““The global economy is facing increasingly serious headwinds,” said chief economist Laurence Boone.
““A sharper slowdown in any of the major regions could derail activity worldwide, especially if it spills over to financial markets. Governments should … coordinate policy actions to avoid a further downturn.”
“Risks abound, from the dangers of a sharper slump in China to an intensification of the trade war, a “no deal” Brexit, and a debt crunch as borrowing has surged in the era of low interest rates.
“The economists chopped their German forecast by more than half, predicting that the eurozone powerhouse will grow by just 0.7pc this year, down from an earlier forecast of 1.6pc.
“Italy faces a longer recession: its GDP will fall by 0.2pc this year, the OECD believes, in a sharp turnaround from November’s forecast that anticipated growth of 0.9pc.
“French growth has also been trimmed, though to a more positive 1.3pc.
“The eurozone overall is set for GDP growth of 1pc, a major downgrade from November’s 1.8pc. Weak exports and political turmoil are pulling down growth, the economists said.
“Britain’s outlook has also been slashed almost in half. The growth forecast is down from 1.4pc to just 0.8pc.”
“The OECD said a steep fall in investment over the past year by UK-based firms had left the economy in a weak position to boost its poor productivity rates and increase wages growth.
“The economic health check comes as a string of major manufacturing firms have made clear that their future in the UK is in doubt should the government fail to secure a transition arrangement that allows them to trade freely inside a customs union with the EU.”
“The European Central Bank will slash growth forecasts on Thursday and is likely to send its strongest signal yet that fresh stimulus is coming in the form of more cheap loans, hoping to stop an unexpected slowdown from becoming a downturn.”
“The eurozone is beginning to resemble Japan with its low-growth and low-inflation environment, coupled with still very loose monetary policy, according to economists at ING.
“This raises questions about the European Central Bank’s tool kit and firing power. Interest rates haven’t gone up in either the eurozone or Japan since the aftermath of the global financial crisis.”
“The U.S. trade deficit widened in 2018 to a 10-year high of $621 billion, bucking President Donald Trump’s pledges to reduce it, as tax cuts boosted domestic demand for imports while the strong dollar and retaliatory tariffs weighed on exports.”
“People are not driving around anymore in Venezuela. To make things worse, 90% of buses were reportedly out of action by mid-2018. This is a society that just doesn’t go out for work or travel.
“Businesses are also using less transportation, since they produce fewer goods than they used to – including food.
“The last implication is terrifying, and can easily be missed when solely looking at numbers. It is possible to survive without a car, but not without food.”
“Libya’s parallel government in the east has sold bonds worth more than $23 billion to fund its wage bill, bypassing the central bank in Tripoli and creating a potential financial black hole if the country reunifies, bankers and diplomats said. The debt has been piling up since 2014, when the country split into two administrations – one in Tripoli and the other in the east – as a result of the power struggle that followed the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.”
“In February, S&P Global Ratings projected that the total value of outstanding bad debt in the Turkish banking sector will approximately double by the end of the second half of 2020 at the latest.
“The ratings agency stated that it expects non-performing loans (NPL), recorded at 3.5 percent in September 2018, to hit 8 percent; moreover, should the NPL definition be extended to encompass restructured loans, S&P observed that the current figure is already in excess of 10 percent, expecting it to surge to up to 20 percent using its base-case test scenario.”
“…the trade war is only one among many problems that China is struggling with. Even if a trade deal is finally struck with the US, relief will most likely only be temporary. The reasons behind the growth slowdown run much deeper and paint a truly worrying picture of the future.
“And while the cracks are just beginning to show now, their origins actually lie all the way back in 2008… The Chinese economy accounts for almost a third of global growth, while the country is the world’s largest trader, driving global commerce. That means an economic slowdown is not just China’s problem. “
“China’s exports likely contracted in February after a surprise bounce in January, while imports fell for a third straight month, a Reuters poll showed, heightening anxiety over whether Washington and Beijing can resolve deep differences over trade.”
“Hyundai Motor Co is considering plans to suspend production at its oldest plant in China as it reels from tumbling sales and massive overcapacity in its biggest market. The move by Hyundai, which together with affiliate Kia Motors was the No.3 automaker in China until 2016, highlights the reversal of fortunes in the world’s biggest auto market that suffered its first contraction in decades last year.”
“A deepening credit squeeze is making it harder to get a mortgage in Australia, further dragging down a property market already deep in its worst slump in a generation. Gone are the days of banks throwing money at homebuyers. Instead they’re tightening lending criteria, after an inquiry into misconduct in the finance industry heard how lax standards had lumped people with mortgages they couldn’t afford.”
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