“Economists in Milan and London are debating whether Italy is carrying so much debt that it might collapse into a Greek-style financial crisis.
“Their fear is that because Italy is so much bigger than Greece — and because Italy is one of the Big Three economies underpinning the eurozone — that the scale of such a crisis might be more difficult to contain this time around.
“It also underscores the un-resolvable contradiction at the heart of the European Central Bank (which governs the 19 countries that use the euro as a currency): Once a country gets into too much debt, European Union austerity rules that limit government spending militate to reduce that country’s economic growth.
“At the same time, the ECB’s rules make it impossible for a country to exit the euro without plunging itself into the financial crisis it is seeking to avoid…
“The crisis has been a long time coming, of course, so haven’t banks made sure to reduce their exposure to Italian debt? One of the reasons the Greek crisis was largely confined to Greece was because the private finance sphere successfully insulated itself from exposure to Greek debt…
“”A financial crisis that brings down the current government could lead to a new unity government which implements fiscal tightening, further depressing growth,” Nobile says. “This situation cannot last.”
“”…Italy is several orders of magnitude bigger than Greece,” Allen told Business Insider. “I think it would be more difficult to contain the contagion.”
“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was confronted with a rare sign of rebellion within the governing party as former allies attacked his leadership following a sharp deterioration in the economy and stinging losses in local elections last month.”
“Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s confidant and a longtime member of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party, Asad Umar, resigned as finance minister last week.
“The development comes at a time when Pakistan is facing a serious economic crisis. Umar’s resignation raises fresh questions regarding Pakistan’s plans for averting an economic crisis amid bailout talks with the IMF.”
“The villagers’ plight reflects difficulties some municipalities in China have had in meeting spending obligations as they struggle under a collective debt burden that reached Rmb40.3tn ($6tn) last year, according to S&P Global.”
“Economic research institutes have painted a gloomy picture for South Korea’s economic growth this year, cutting or considering slashing their growth forecasts, after the Bank of Korea lowered its growth outlook last week, according to economists on Monday.
“With the global economy showing signs of a downturn this year and warnings of a recession rising worldwide, growth momentum for South Korea’s export-reliant economy has been moderating, they said.”
“Thailand’s customs-cleared exports fell 4.88% in March… The export contraction in March was because of shipments of electronics, oil and related products, and computers and accessories, a commerce ministry official told a briefing.”
“The powerful [farming] sector is now cooling on the centre-right president, frustrated by revived export tariffs and sky-high borrowing rates that have bruised smaller farmers, a concern for Macri ahead of national elections later in the year.
“Argentina’s farming sector, which brings in more than half of the export dollars in South America’s second-biggest economy, is a key barometer for Macri, who has sold himself as a champion of business and industry, none more so than the country’s huge soy, wheat and corn farms.”
“After two decades of relative stability fueled by cheap Venezuelan oil, shortages of food and medicine have once again become a serious daily problem for millions of Cubans…
“Stores no longer routinely stock eggs, flour, chicken, cooking oil, rice, powdered milk and ground turkey, among other products. These basics disappear for days or weeks. Hours-long lines appear within minutes of trucks showing up with new supplies. Shelves are empty again within hours.”
“In just over a month, the U.S. economy will complete 10 years of economic expansion, matching the longest expansion in history. The last time this happened, in March 2001, the economy slid from its lofty peak and into recession.
“The unemployment rate in the months preceding that recession dipped to 3.9 percent, nearly identical to the current rate. How likely is history to repeat and what does it mean for the Federal Reserve?”
“…existing stimulus effects from the Trump Tax Cuts have been waning each of the last two quarters. US GDP for the first quarter of 2019 is estimated to be substantially lower still, meaning the tax cuts, after more than a year, are grossly failing to perform as promised while they are not paying for themselves either.
“The IMF and World Bank have projected a decline in global GDP over the full year.”
“The March retail sales report [US] out last week was led primarily by a pickup in auto sales as well as gasoline prices.
“The current data suggests further weakness in auto sales coming. The annual rate of auto sales has slowed dramatically and is approaching levels normally associated with more severe economic weakness.”
“…the data strongly suggests that [US] builders are finishing homes at close to the peak rate, but not starting new ones.”
““The Fed is between a rock and a hard place,” said Kathleen Gaffney, a portfolio manager at Eaton Vance Management in Boston. “They can’t go lower because there are signs that inflation is rising and they can’t go higher because of global political uncertainty. It leaves the market on pause.”
“…Gaffney said the Fed will likely have to raise rates again because of rising wages and other forms of inflation by the end of the year, adding that such a move will “pierce” the high valuations in both the stocks and bond markets.”
“Given that the current asset price boom cycle is already longer than the 2001-07 cycle, the final denouement too will necessarily be worse than the fallout of the 2008 crisis. Therein lies the hope to an end of the “bullshit” that has characterised policymaking and much investment activity in recent times.”
“Ship orders world-wide have shrunk to the lowest level in 15 years as vessel owners struggle with excess capacity that has kept freight rates well below break-even levels..
“The pullback in orders has hurt shipbuilding yards in big production centers in South Korea, China and Japan, where authorities are looking at closing some operations, consolidating businesses and other strategies to keep the industrial operations running.”