“Global trade volumes shrank 1.2 per cent in August compared with the same month last year, the third consecutive monthly annual fall and the longest stretch of contraction since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago…
“Nearly 100 countries — including South Korea — saw the value of their exports shrink in the first half of the year according to an FT analysis of IMF data, up from 33 last year. Exports of machinery and transport equipment were particularly severely hit…”
“A concentrated burst of interest rate cutting and other measures to loosen global financial conditions by the world’s central bankers looks to have largely run its course, and policymakers now appear content to wait and see if their handiwork staves off a deeper slowdown in the months ahead.”
“The US gross national debt – the sum of all Treasury securities outstanding – passed another illustrious milestone, $23.01 trillion, the US Treasury department disclosed on Friday.
“And it got there at lightning speed just eight months after having passed the illustrious milestone of $22 trillion on February 11.”
“General Electric’s recent decision to freeze retirement benefits for 20,000 employees provides the latest unwelcome illustration of the problems confronting millions of US workers battling to secure a decent income in old age.
“GE’s pension obligations stood at $91.8bn at the end of last year, significantly higher than the industrial conglomerate’s $66bn market value on December 31… The strains on US corporate defined benefit pension plans are likely to intensify, due in part to the steep decline in long-term interest rates that are used to measure (discount) the value of future obligations to employees.”
“So far, 358 of the S&P 500 SPX, +0.97% companies have reported quarterly earnings, more than 70%, and earnings have declined 2.66% from the same quarter a year ago, according to a FactSet tally.
“It could take a miracle at this point to reverse that trend and avoid prolonging the earnings recession…”
“Global stock markets look strong… The US-focussed S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 both just hit all-time highs…
“The main reason shares rose… is the US Federal Reserve, the world’s most important central bank, has now returned to full-scale easing mode – even if Fed boss Jerome Powell pretends that isn’t true.”
“”We should be happier to have a job than to have our savings protected,” says incoming ECB President Christine Lagarde…
“Lagarde, of course, comes over from the IMF, an organization that has never met a currency debasement it wasn’t in favor of. Her comments suggest she’s not only going to continue flooding markets with euros…”
“…it is far from clear that a policy of negative interest rates would be effective in stimulating the economy, normally the main reason for cutting interest rates.
“In Japan and the eurozone there is evidence that negative rates have eroded business and consumer confidence, rather than restoring it. When the central bank takes such a dramatic and unusual step it can heighten the sense of worry about economic prospects, rather than allaying it.”
“The Swedish central bank, the Riksbank, “pioneered” the use of negative interest rates after the financial crisis, charging banks for keeping excess reserves with it from as early as 2009. In early 2015, it cut its main policy rate, which eventually sunk as low as –0.5%. The bank’s goal was to prevent the Swedish krona from becoming too strong, thus hurting growth. But its drastic action also fuelled a housing bubble, which has driven private debt in Sweden to extraordinary heights…”
“Confidence among British accountants in the economic outlook is falling at the fastest rate since the depths of the financial crisis more than a decade ago due to worries about Brexit and sluggish growth, a survey showed on Monday.
““Slower economic growth (is) a symptom of the malaise that has set in, driven primarily by Brexit uncertainty and political instability,” Michael Izza, chief executive of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), said.”
“A president toppled in Algeria. Renewed demonstrations in Egypt. More than 100 people killed in Iraq.
“The Lebanese prime minister’s resignation – brought about by protesters who say they are just getting started. It has been a year of rage across the Middle East.”
“Hong Kong’s finance chief warned on Sunday of another cut to the city’s growth forecast as five months of protests pounded an economy already suffering from US-China trade tensions.
“Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said a further downgrade for 2019 might now be “unavoidable” and there was a “very big chance” the city would be in recession for the whole year.”
“Australians are buying everyday goods at the slowest rate since the 1990-91 recession as signs grow that interest rate reductions and the Morrison government’s tax cuts have failed to encourage shoppers to open their wallets.”
“Westpac is hoping to raise $2.5 billion in capital from its investors after a “disappointing year” saw its cash profit plummet.
“Australia’s second largest bank requested a trading halt from the ASX on Monday morning as part of the announcement after revealing its profit tumbled 15 per cent to $6.85 billion in the 12 months to September — its worst result since the Global Financial Crisis.”