Daily updates on climate change and the global economy.

Economy 26 Oct 2018 copper bellwether signals distress

“Copper, an industrial metal known as a leading indicator of economic activity, has been pointing investors toward slowing global growth, setting prices on track for their first yearly decline since 2015 and raising questions about other world markets.

““Investors are expressing economic concerns,” said Dan Denbow, a portfolio manager at USAA.”


“Asia markets were mostly down on Friday as major indexes see-sawed between gains and losses. Stocks on Wall Street saw a recovery overnight after suffering from steep losses in the previous trading session stateside, but futures pointed to declines at the open on Friday.”


“China’s currency weakened to its lowest level in a decade on Friday, against a … The onshore renminbi fell as much as 0.22 per cent on Friday morning in Asia trading to Rmb6.9644 against the dollar, representing its weakest value since the global financial crisis in 2008.”


“India’s tight money conditions and fears of a contagion following a debt crisis at a local lender dented demand and put a muzzle on animal spirits in the world’s fastest-growing major economy… price pressures intensified, with higher fuel costs and a stronger dollar making imported goods pricier.”


“Iran’s economic crisis has caused 70 per cent of factories, workshops and mines to shut down or go bankrupt, the IRNA news agency reported Expediency Discernment Council member Mostafa Mirsalim saying…

“Pressure on the Iranian government of President, Hassan Rouhani is mounting as the living conditions worsen following the collapse of the local currency.”


“The rand yesterday extended its losses after Finance Minister Tito Mboweni warned that [South Africa] might be forced to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout if the escalating debt was not reined in. The local unit fell to R14.57 to the dollar by 5pm after hitting R14.50 on Wednesday after Mboweni said in his maiden Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) that government debt had widened far more than initially thought.”


“Crime and a grinding economic crisis have turned the traditionally vibrant, teeming streets of Caracas into no man’s land once the sun goes down… In Venezuela it is almost impossible to eat out when inflation is beyond runaway and projected by the IMF to end the year at 1.35 million percent… NGOs say there were 26,000 violent deaths last year in Venezuela — 89 per 100,000 inhabitants, which is 15 times the global average.”


“Brazil is still struggling to recover from its worst recession on record, the full effects of which will only become clear several years down the line. The currency has devalued significantly, and despite a recent rally, the Real has slipped 16 percent against the U.S. Dollar in the last year. A weaker Real causes all sorts of problems at home, not least provoking the ire of consumers who have seen their hard-earned salaries become worth less and less as the years go on.”


“Early Thursday, Argentina’s lower house approved the heavily-protested austerity budget, which was designed to meeting a $57-billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout requirement.

“”We are in a crisis and the government must take responsibility. Social problems and the recession oblige us to pass the law,” Cambiemos party lawmaker, Mario Negri, said in a speech after the budget was passed.”


“Time to …turn your focus to the U.K. — which is even now, after last week’s summit, on a path to the worst sort of Brexit, a disorderly “no deal” in which the U.K. leaves the European Union with no agreement at all on March 29. That means no plan and no disruption-reducing transition period — which in turn means chaos at U.K. and E.U. ports, food and medication shortages, and, if we’re unlucky, an eventual U.K. financial crisis for which we’re extremely unprepared.”


Much of the UK economy is already struggling and needs a no-deal Brexit like a hole in the head:

“Stock markets expect the value of UK retail property to fall almost as much as during the financial crisis, according to an analysis for the Financial Times.”


“UK car output fell by 16.8% in September according to the latest data issued by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The trade association said some 25,610 fewer cars rolled off production lines than in the same month last year, capping off a turbulent first three quarters as global trade tensions… September production fell for both home and overseas markets, down year on year by a respective 19.0% and 16.2%.”


“Italy’s banks are charging households and businesses more to borrow after a fall in the value of the country’s bonds, the first sign of a credit tightening that could disrupt the populist government’s economic revival plans. Investors have been dumping Italian assets since the formation in June of a coalition government whose draft 2019 budget plan this month prompted Moody’s to cut Italy’s credit rating and the European Commission to demand a revision.”


“Investors haven’t dumped European banking stocks at such a brisk pace since the financial crisis ten years ago, making it the region’s most oversold sector following a brutal three-week market sell-off. But lenders are not alone, with more than half of European sectors now in oversold territory.”


“Former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen said she is concerned about increasingly lax standards in the market for leveraged loans, the Financial Times reported. Yellen echoes warnings from the Fed, the Bank of England, the Reserve Bank of Australia about the corner of the debt market that, according to the Institute of International Finance, has ballooned to $1.6 trillion. “I am worried about the systemic risks associated with these loans,” she said.”


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Economy 25 Oct 2018 global trade slows dangerously

The cost of hiring container ships has plunged 24 percent from a multi-year peak while raw material vessel rates have slumped 10 percent from a five-year high, adding to signs of slowing global trade with dangerous implications for the economy.

While much of world is focussed on the stock market losses this week, the drop in shipping rates as trade declines because of the trade dispute between the United States and China, emerging market currency weakness and tighter credit conditions is an omen of slowing global economic growth.”


“Shares in Asia Pacific have plunged into bear market territory and wiped billions off the values of companies as one analyst warned that the losses could be a harbinger of a wholesale “capitulation”. After the worst day for tech stocks on Wall Street for seven years, markets were in retreat from Sydney to Shanghai as concerns about the global economy and rising borrowing costs were compounded by local factors.”


“[China] The chief engine of growth for the world’s carmakers is turning into their biggest headache. In the past 48 hours, auto giants from Volkswagen AG and Ford Motor Co. to Renault SA and PSA Group have pinned flagging profits and weakening sales outlooks on a slowdown in the world’s largest auto market. The companies spent billions of dollars over the past two decades setting up production and sales channels in China, as rapid growth saw millions buy first — and second — cars, only to see demand fizzle as the economy wavers.”


“A team led by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top economic aide and tasked with maintaining financial stability amid an escalating trade war with the United States and a weakening economy met for the 10th time in two months on Saturday.”


“South Korea’s gross domestic product (GDP) moved at a snail’s pace of 0.6 percent in the third quarter against the three-month period…

“on path for the lowest annual growth in six years as corporate and construction spending soured sharply.”


“A series of defaults by India’s key infrastructure lender, Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited (IL&FS), has sparked fears about the health of other non-bank lenders and led to a squeeze in India’s corporate debt market that these lenders have relied upon. This event is likely to dampen credit growth and decrease private sector investment in infrastructure, which will significantly worsen India’s economic outlook.”


“”The toll is unbearably high. The immune systems of millions of people on survival support for years on end are now are literally collapsing, making them – especially children and the elderly – more likely to succumb to malnutrition, cholera and other diseases.”

“Mr Lowcock said the humanitarian crisis had been exacerbated by an economic crisis in Yemen.”


“The 2018 crisis stemmed from an accelerated Lira devaluation, which created a panic regarding the health of Turkish corporations and their ability to service and rollover external financing.

“The Lira devaluation was due to President Erdoğan’s public comments on interest rates…”


“Last year, Africa’s foreign debt reached the highest level since 2001, according to the British lobby group Jubilee Debt Campaign.

“Eighteen countries are experiencing an acute debt crisis or are on the brink thereof, according to the World Bank.”


“South Africa predicted wider budget deficits and cut growth forecasts in a bleak budget on Wednesday that focused spending on infrastructure, manufacturing and agriculture to boost the recession-bound economy.”


“Swedes became more pessimistic as the central bank prepares to raise interest rates for the first time in seven years and politicians struggle to form a government more than a month after the nation’s inconclusive election.”


“German private-sector growth slowed to its lowest level in more than three years as manufacturing and services both lost momentum, a survey showed on Wednesday, in a sign that Europe’s largest economy started the fourth quarter on a weaker footing.”


“Italy’s government is ready to intervene to help banks suffering from rising bond yields, said a top adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, in a warning to the European Union from the government whose spending plans have frightened investors. Italian banks would need recapitalization if the gap between yields on the country’s government debt and German bonds gets close to 400 basis points…”


““It is evident that the [UK] housing market is struggling for traction in the face of still limited consumer purchasing power, fragile consumer confidence and wariness over higher interest rates.

“Brexit uncertainty may also be having some dampening impact on activity,” said economist Howard Archer at the EY Item Club.”


“The value of euro zone banks .SX7E have collapsed by a third since markets touched their peak at the end of January, data showed on Wednesday, as another quarter of disappointing profits at Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) dragged the region’s sector down.”


“The European Central Bank seems certain to keep policy unchanged on Thursday but it is likely to acknowledge the growth outlook is deteriorating, even if not yet by enough to derail a carefully crafted retreat from stimulus. Having exhausted much of its firepower with four years of unprecedented support, the ECB will reaffirm its asset purchases are set to end this year…”


“Builders warned of a slowdown in [US] home sales. And they were right – except the numbers are even worse than expected.

“Sales of newly built homes dropped 5.5 percent in September compared with August. And were down 13 percent compared with a year ago, according to the U.S. Census.”


“This is not about interest rates, or at least interest rates alone…

“Consumers, meaning workers, are becoming more and more uneasy about everything. In sentiment survey after sentiment survey, they may parrot the official narrative drawn from the unemployment rate, but in practice, they are behaving very differently.”


“Warning signs about the slowing of the global economy continue to crop up, and market jitters are taking the steam out of oil prices. U.S. corporate earnings are no longer sky-high… The [impact of] the U.S.-China trade war… is only growing as costs work their way through supply chains. This week, a slew of disappointing earnings came in… Evidence of a slowdown in China is also becoming apparent.”


Read yesterday’s ‘Economy’ thread here and visit my Patreon page here.

Economy 23 Oct 2018 warning signals from global economy

“Stock markets don’t always correlate well with what’s going on in the economy, but a largely lacklustre showing this year may well be sending out warning pulses.

“In the week ending 11th October, the best of the world’s major markets, the US S&P index, fell by nearly 7 per cent. Most of this happened in two days, marking one of the most volatile periods in the index’s 90-year history. Other markets reacted in similar fashion, but consider that while the S&P is still up 3.5 per cent this year, the FTSE 100 is down over 8 per cent, the 600 firms in the broad Eurostoxx index are down 7 per cent, the Nikkei is off 1 per cent, and the Chinese Shanghai Composite index is already in a bear market, having fallen 24 per cent. Markets have been skittish indeed.

“As this global expansion gets ever longer — and if America’s keeps going until June next year, it’ll be the longest since records began in 1854 — the IMF is worried about the financial consequences, in combination with rising oil prices, a concentration of debt risks, especially in China, and, inevitably, the politics of trade conflict.

“Brent oil at around $80 a barrel is at its highest level since 2014, and up 17.5 per cent since January. Global demand is firm, but supply constraints are tightening the market… Some market watchers think prices could top $100 next year. One thing that has led every global downturn for the last 40 years has been a trend of rising oil prices.

“Total non-financial debt in countries with systemically important financial sectors now stands at $167 trillion, or over 250 per cent of aggregate GDP, up $54 trillion and 40 per cent of GDP since 2008.

“China accounts for the bulk of the rise in emerging market indebtedness. In recent weeks, economic data releases have pointed to a steady slowdown in growth, and policies are being relaxed to address this shortfall. Top officials last week made a point of saying in coordinated fashion that everything is fine—which is usually code for the opposite.

“…trade conflict is just one element in a new adversarial relationship that seems to be spilling into investment relations between China and the west, and might spill into geopolitical relations in the South China Sea and indeed, in parts of China’s Belt and Road universe. These are things no stock market can price for or discount. Caveat emptor.”


“US President Donald Trump has no intention of de-escalating trade tensions with China, according to Axios citing three unnamed sources with knowledge of his private conversations, believing instead that more time is required to make “Chinese leaders to feel more pain from his tariffs”. According to Axios, one source told them that Trump “wants them to suffer more” from tariffs…”


“China will roll out more policies to support private companies, including measures to help them raise funds in capital markets, the government said, as economic growth slows to a pace not seen since the global financial crisis a decade ago… The central bank has taken a number of steps this year to spur commercial banks to lend.”


“Asian markets fell across the board in on Tuesday as investors remained cautious amid rising global tensions. The Greater China markets fell, reversing gains seen over the last two sessions. The Shanghai composite shed 2.26 percent to close at 2,594.83 while the Shenzhen composite declined 1.92 percent to 1,300.29. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 3 percent in afternoon trade.”


““For the latest quarter of Q1 2018, all five of our EWI combinations are flashing warning signs… reflecting Hong Kong’s high credit-to-GDP ratio, real property prices, debt-service ratio, and real effective exchange rate (REER), all of which are above their long-run trends.” Ominous, right? Akin to Hong Kong’s black rainstorm signal in terms of warning levels. The news is not much better for Hong Kong’s neighbour to the north with China’s EWI also sitting in warning territory….”


“While there was nothing to suggest that the BOJ will change its policy, the report indicates that it is aware of longer-term risks to the banking system, former central bank official Nobuyasu Atago said. “The report is suggesting that banks need to be cautious about the impacts of any potential economic downturn,” said Mr Atago, now chief economist at Okasan Securities Group Inc in Tokyo.”


“The poorest or bottom 30% income households felt inflation at 8% in August 2018, according to the latest release from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

The figure was higher than the 7.3% recorded in July 2018 and the 3% posted in August 2017.”


““No one can brush this off,” says a financial executive with an operation in the kingdom. “The crown prince [will be] forever associated with this [murder].” At risk is Riyadh’s ability to attract the foreign investment, skills and technology it needs to build the modern economy Prince Mohammed has promised and address the urgent need to provide jobs for a youthful population blighted by rising unemployment.”


“Nigeria’s plan to raise a $2.86 billion Eurobond and simultaneously raise minimum wage could lead to a significant deterioration in the country’s financial position unless it is able to raise revenues. The new external borrowing will take the country’s total external debt stock to $24.9 billion from the current $22.16 billion, 6 percent of the GDP of Africa’s largest economy.”


“Mozambique turned down a restructuring plan by lenders, including Credit Suisse, for one of the state-owned companies at the centre of a hidden-debt crisis, the government’s financial advisers said…

“The crisis over hidden debts led to the Southeast African nation defaulting on bond repayments.”


“An increasing number of migrants leaving Venezuela are in need of the international protections normally granted asylum seekers. Most Venezuelans have been finding refuge in other neighboring South American countries. Unfortunately many of those who have fled to Brazil have experienced increasing levels of xenophobia.”


“Violent deaths of Venezuelans in Colombia rose more than threefold in the first nine months of the year compared with the same period in 2017, as more desperate migrants flooded across the border to escape an economic crisis back home, a report released on Monday showed.”


“European shares fell to their lowest levels in nearly two years on Tuesday as a new batch of third-quarter earnings failed to offset growing concerns on Brexit, Italy’s budget, Saudi isolation, trade wars, Chinese growth and U.S. interest rates.”


“Hoarding may seem an extreme response… but as another EU summit slips by without the UK and Brussels reaching agreement, it is one more bosses may decide cannot be ducked. A number of companies are talking about stockpiling — especially in critical sectors such as high-value manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and food. For instance, Airbus has asked its suppliers to start “ramping up” their stocks of components.”


“Property transactions in prime central London locations have dropped below levels seen during the financial crisis to hit a new record low, new research shows. Brexit uncertainty and stamp duty increases are to blame, as declines have also been recorded more broadly across England and Wales… It comes as the Treasury is facing a £1billion drop in stamp duty from property sales this year – sparking fears a tax crackdown on homeowners has backfired spectacularly.”


“The European Commission will likely decide Tuesday on whether to formally demand a member state to take back, revise and resubmit its budget, a step it has never taken before. Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis and economic affairs chief Pierre Moscovici have already stated that Italy’s budget is in serious breach of European Union rules and asked the populist government to change tack. Italy, so far, has refused.”


“A renewed bout of distress among Greek and Italian banks illustrates a deeper problem in Europe: the financial system’s overseers haven’t done nearly enough to prepare for the next crisis. They should redouble their efforts before the window of opportunity closes… there’s one theme in common: investors don’t believe that the banks’ balance sheets are as strong as they need to be. Unfortunately, their doubts are well-founded.”


Read yesterday’s ‘Economy’ thread here and visit my Patreon page here.

Economy 22 Oct 2018 China panicking

“A team led by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top economic aide and tasked with maintaining financial stability amid an escalating trade war with the United States and a weakening economy met for the 10th time in two months on Saturday… ““The anxiety among the top leadership is 100 per cent,” Xu Jianwei, senior China economist at French bank Natixis, said.

““One of Beijing’s top priorities for this year was deleveraging, but that policy has shifted gradually because there are more serious problems,” he said.

““If deleveraging continues, many Chinese companies may die in the process. But if deleveraging slows down, the financial risks will continue to pile up. So regulators are for sure very worried, and I don’t think they have found a particularly good way out of it.””


“China’s tax cuts next year could exceed the equivalent of 1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), a central bank adviser said in remarks published on Monday, in a sign policymakers might be considering another round of tax reductions.”


“It’s an oddity of Japan’s corporate bond market: many debt sales that bankers said were successful actually weren’t. The secret may be getting harder to keep. Underwriters failed to fully sell at least 29 percent of company note offerings in September, twice the average over the past six months, according to information compiled by Bloomberg…”


“Sydney’s housing market is facing the toughest conditions since the global financial crisis after auction rates slumped again at the weekend, with analysts predicting that the slowdown could get much worse in the months ahead. Australia’s biggest city saw only 44% of 567 listed properties sold at the weekend, according to Domain, the lowest preliminary clearance rate for a decade.”


“Argentina’s inflation is running at an annualised 40.5%, helped along by a depreciating peso and higher consumer utility bills due to reductions in government subsidies to power providers. The country is in recession, its government bonds are being shunned, and its currency slammed. The peso has almost halved in value since the start of the year.”


“Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has accepted the resignation of the embattled ministers of industry and roads, a statement on the presidential website said on Saturday. The president thanked industry minister Mohammad Shariatmadari and roads minister Abbas Akhoundi’s for their “selfless service” and “sincere efforts” during their tenures.”


“The IL&FS board, chaired by Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd’s managing director, Uday Kotak, is likely to pitch the centre for a government bailout. While the final contours of the programme are still being prepared, the people cited above said it could be a variant of the US government’s rescue act under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act following the 2008 financial crisis.”


“Wall Street is preparing for the next global recession. Reliable Saudi oil supplies are threatened, China’s domestic economy is ripe for a reckoning and American tariff wars are cranking up. The last thing the global economic system needs right now is a petulant, provocative, debt-ridden and budget-busting Italy. The world has just gotten the last thing it needs.”


“Fears that Italy’s banks face a black hole in their finances are expected to grow this week following a debt downgrade that could send the value of bank reserves plummeting. Despite efforts to shore up Italian banks’ reserves, a downgrade by the ratings agency Moody’s on Friday following a row between Rome and Brussels over the government’s budget could send them into freefall again.”


“Work will be moved out of the UK and jobs will be lost, unless the government finalises a Brexit withdrawal agreement by December, the director general of the CBI has warned. Carolyn Fairbairn said business reality would soon start to outpace Brexit negotiations, and decisions will have to be taken to counteract uncertainty.”


“FTSE companies that have issued a profit warning in the third quarter of 2018 have suffered an average 21 per cent fall in the value of their shares, marking the sharpest drop in nearly 10 years… A flurry of embattled retailers have sounded the alarm bell in recent months, with high street giants such as Debenhams spooking many City investors in the wake of warnings issued since the start of 2018.”


“The good times are back on Wall Street. Last year, the average Wall Street salary rose 13% to its highest level since 2008, just before the financial crisis shattered the financial world. According to a report from New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, annual pay excluding bonuses hit $422,500 on average last year.”


“If it wasn’t before, it is definitely a slump now. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) said today that the sales of existing homes across the US in September 2018 fell more than 3% seasonally-adjusted from August. At just 5.15 million (SAAR), that’s the lowest volume in almost three years.”


Read the previous ‘Economy’ thread here and visit my Patreon page here.

Economy 8 Oct 2018 tremors in the global economy

“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) holds its annual meeting this week in earthquake-stricken Indonesia, as it shines a light on tremors in the global economy: rising protectionism, vulnerable emerging markets and record debt levels.”


“It’s been 10 years since the worst financial crisis the Great Depression tanked the world economy and wiped out $34 trillion in global equity market capitalization. Today, many investors understandably consider record high global debt levels the biggest risk of a repeat of 2008-2009… the biggest risk that many correctly point out is that it’s not just large and well capitalized blue chips that are borrowing vast amounts. It’s also shaky companies with poor balance sheets, and track records of bad capital allocation.”


“Analysis by Sky News of the paths of different recessions throughout UK and US history has found that the UK’s recovery is now comparatively weaker than the American recovery after the Wall Street Crash of 1929.”


“British businesses are the most anxious they have been about Brexit since the 2016 referendum, with more bosses reining in hiring and investment plans, a study has found. The accountancy group Deloitte has warned that worries over the long-term impact of Brexit are mounting.”


“The European Central Bank has given euro zone banks until 2022 to limit their reliance on their London operations for booking trades and loans following Britain’s exit from the European Union, the Financial Times wrote on Monday. The ECB, as the euro zone’s top banking watchdog, has long said banks will have to phase out the so-called “back-to-back” booking of EU trades in London… A spokeswoman for the ECB declined to comment.”


“The financial crisis saw almost the complete meltdown of the global financial system, requiring considerable state interventions to stave off the crisis. While recovery has picked up in Europe, the European banking system is not as robust as it may seem, warns a new report, mounting concerns that current non-performing debt levels could see another crisis unfold.”


“Last week, the populist Italian coalition produced a 2019 budget showing an increase in the deficit. That means Italy will need to borrow more money, on top of the 132% debt-to-GDP it already owes. In response, Italian borrowing costs jumped from 2.9% to 3.3%. This matters, as even a small rise in debt servicing interest rates, adds up to a lot when you owe €2 trillion. Shares in Italy’s two largest banks, UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo fell over 10%.”


“Italian assets slumped yet again on signs that the government’s confrontation with the European Commission over its budget won’t be resolved anytime soon. Yields on benchmark 10-year bonds rose above 3.5 percent for the first time in four years…”


“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated on Saturday that Turkey’s economy was strong and Ankara was determined to reach its goals using its own solutions. “There is no economic crisis, only manipulative moves. We will achieve our country’s goals with our own solutions and our own programs,” Erdoğan said at the 27th Consultation and Assessment Meeting of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.”


“Sudan slashed the official value of its currency against the US dollar by more than half on Sunday, the third devaluation this year in the face of a mounting economic crisis.

“The move came just weeks after President Omar al-Bashir replaced the government over its failure to curb economic woes including soaring food prices.”


“Yemen’s Oil and Mineral Ministry has denounced the looting of the country’s oil resources by Saudi Arabia, saying the move is a blatant violation of international law.

“The ministry said in a statement on Saturday that Saudi Arabia transports Yemeni oil to the Arabian Sea through a pipeline which extends from the Rub’ al Khali desert to Hadhramaut and al-Mahrah provinces south of the country.”


“In an open letter, over 50 Iranian economists warned of a collapse in the Iranian economy, stating that the severe inflation of the rial has hit a high it had never reached in the past 75 years, since World War II.”


“China’s central bank on Sunday announced a steep cut in the level of cash that banks must hold as reserves, stepping up moves to lower financing costs and spur growth amid concerns over the economic drag from an escalating trade dispute with the United States.”


“China stocks fall despite central bank policy easing.”


It’s the $7 trillion question hanging over Australia’s economy — property boom and correction or bubble and bust? For those warning of the latter, Ireland and its spectacular implosion during the global financial crisis offers a salutary warning of what may lie in wait Down Under. “I am concerned we could be seeing an Ireland 2.0 here within the next 12 to 18 months,” warned Martin North, the principal at Digital Finance Analytics.”


“Venezuela’s government has announced the creation of a new police force to strengthen border controls…

“…thousands of people continue to flee the country’s spiralling political and economic crises.”


“Far-right congressman Jair Bolsonaro pulled off a thumping win in the first round of Brazil’s presidential election following one of the most polarizing campaigns since the country returned to democracy three decades ago.”


“The past week may be the one that blew the lid off yields in the world’s largest bond market, with the 10-year benchmark climbing the most in almost two years Wednesday and the selling pressure showing little sign of reversing since. Traders are responding to a seemingly critical mass of evidence in favor of higher rates.”


“When bonds sell off — yields rise — it has the effect of repricing trillions of dollars of medium and long-term debt and funding right across the global economy… So the pain of Fed rate hikes is always felt somewhere in the world, because the US dollar is the global reserve currency, too, and the primary source of hard-currency funding. Which is why Deutsche Bank strategists noted this week that every Fed rate-rise cycle had ended in crisis somewhere in the world, with the global financial crisis 10 years ago the most recent.”


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Economy 5 Oct 2018 dangerously imbalanced global economy

Dangerous imbalance now in the global economy between the US economy and the rest of the world:

“Mounting concern about the inflationary impact of falling US unemployment has sent tremors through global financial markets amid fears that the long post-financial crisis rally in asset prices is nearing its end.

“The effective interest rate on 10-year benchmark US bonds reached their highest level for seven years after the latest snapshot of the American labour market showed fewer workers claiming jobless benefits.

“Shares on Wall Street fell sharply as investors predicted that the monthly official payroll report out on Friday would show that the drop in unemployment was leading to pressure for higher wages…

“Asian markets followed suit on Friday with Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul all in the red. Although the US dollar took a pause ahead of the payroll numbers, currencies in Asia Pacific were under pressure again against the greenback. The Australian dollar hit a 32-month low of US70.59c… The Indian rupee fell to an all-time low against the dollar on Thursday morning of 73.77, while in Indonesia – host for next week’s annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund – the rupiah plunged to a 20-year low.

“The Federal Reserve has already raised interest rates eight times in the past three years in order to head off the threat of higher inflation, but its chairman, Jerome Powell, said on Thursday the economy could expand for “quite some time”.

“Markets saw Powell’s remark as a strong hint that further policy tightening was in prospect, with the threat of tougher action from the Fed having a marked impact on emerging markets, which borrowed heavily in dollars when interest rates were at rock-bottom levels in the years after the crisis.

““A simple dynamic is playing out in the global economy right now – the US is booming, while most of the rest of the world slows or even stagnates,” said HSBC economist Kevin Logan.

““A Federal Reserve that is raising rates to prevent the US economy from overheating is constraining the policy options of countries where financial conditions are tightening and trade tensions intensifying.”

“Investors now see an 80% chance of a Fed hike in December and have revised upwards their expectations for how high rates may eventually go.

“Yields on 10-year Treasury debt were at 3.232% on Thursday, a fresh increase after Wednesday saw the steepest daily increase since the US presidential election in November 2016.”


“Across the U.S., companies are hitting the panic button. The Trump administration has levied 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, a charge that is expected to rise to 25 percent by 2019… Against that backdrop, it’s becoming clear that many companies are rushing to secure products and materials before prices rise regardless of current demand. You could say they are in panic-buying mode. The upside is that this behavior bolsters economic growth in the short term. The downside is that there is likely to be a nasty hangover.”


“With a staggering $1.5tn in outstanding student loans, the United States faces a crisis that has rippled throughout the economy – and is getting worse.

“Nearly two-thirds of 2017 college graduates need to pay back student loans, according to the California-based Institute for College Access and Success, and about 9 million have defaulted .”


“Alaska’s economy has been in recession for three years now… The state has lost so much ground — between 12,000 and 13,000 jobs — that it’s going to take a while to get back to where Alaska was in 2015. And even though job losses are letting up, they’re still happening. Parts of the economy, like the retail sector, are struggling.”


“The tough economic work may only just be starting for Justin Trudeau after Canada struck a last-minute deal to be included in the new NAFTA. Wages are barely keeping up with the cost of living, business executives complain they can’t compete and households are carrying record levels of debt that will weigh down the expansion.”


“Experts use the word “recession” for “a state of decrease in economic activity over a period of time,” but for the Nicaraguans that suffer its effects, it’s nothing less than a disaster that depresses their businesses, cuts their income and puts the welfare of their families at risk.”


“When Danielis Diaz stopped receiving HIV/AIDS drugs four months ago, she had a life or death choice – stay home and become another lifeless casualty of Venezuela’s crumbling health system, or flee to Colombia. Today, the 32-year-old transgender woman is about to restart her free antiretroviral medication at the Censurados Foundation, a non-profit HIV/AIDS rights group that runs a clinic out of a garage in Colombia’s border city of Cucuta.”


“To call him Latin America’s Donald Trump, as some have, is much too kind. Mr Bolsonaro is a misogynist and homophobe whose views on indigenous communities and the environment are every bit as grim. He praises torturers and the military dictatorship that ran Brazil from 1964 to 1985. He recently called for political opponents to be shot. His bigotry is portrayed as “honesty”…Brazil is struggling to recover from its worst ever recession.”


“Brazilian automakers are facing the prospect of a sharp drop in exports this year as a crisis in neighboring Argentina hampers the prospects of car sales abroad, the national automakers’ association said on Thursday… Anfavea, as the association is known, said auto exports will now drop 8.6 percent this year to a total of 700,000 units. The estimate represented a significant revision…”


“Uganda became the first major sub-Saharan African economy to increase interest rates this year to counter inflation pressures caused by weakening currency and rising oil prices. The Monetary Policy Committee in the east African nation increased the benchmark rate to 10 percent from 9 percent… The U.S. Federal Reserve has raised rates three times this year. That added to pressure on emerging-market assets and currencies that’s already taken a knock from the trade war between the U.S. and China and the recent turmoil in Turkey.”


“Turkey’s lira weakened more than one percent on Thursday, a day after data showed that annual inflation had hit nearly 25 percent in September, vastly exceeding expectations, and as the dollar held at a six-week high…

“Turkey’s lira has lost around 40 percent of its value this year on concerns about the central bank’s ability to rein in double-digit inflation.”


“Thousands of demonstrators chanted slogans condemning the ousted president Mansour Hadi and the Saudi-backed aggressors, and blamed them for worsening economic conditions in the country…

“The economic and living conditions are deteriorating sharply, as prices continue to rise, following the rapid collapse of the national currency because of an ongoing blockade against the country.”


“Consumer prices in the Philippines rose at the fastest pace in more than nine years in September, with central bank Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo pledging a “strong tightening bias.” Inflation accelerated to 6.7 percent from 6.4 percent in August, the Philippine Statistics Authority said in Manila on Friday… On top of that, a more than 8 percent slump in the currency this year is adding to the inflationary pressure.”


“J.P. Morgan is getting less optimistic about the trade conflict between the U.S. and China. The firm lowered its rating for Chinese equities to neutral from overweight, predicting the escalating trade war between the countries will affect China’s economy next year. “A full-blown trade war becomes our new base case scenario for 2019,” emerging market strategist Pedro Martins Junior said in a note to clients Wednesday. “There is no clear sign of mitigating confrontation between China and the US in the near term.””


“A reliable leading indicator for the world’s least affordable housing market is sending a sell signal for the first time in three years. Losses in the Hang Seng Properties Index on Thursday left the gauge of Hong Kong real estate stocks trading as much as 20 percent below its peak in January. Declines of that magnitude from major highs have preceded the last four downturns in Hong Kong home prices, data compiled by Bloomberg show.”


“Four out of five of the UK’s leading retail chairman have stated that they aren’t ready for Brexit as pessimism in the sector skyrockets.

“According to Korn Ferry’s 2018 Retail Chairmen Survey, which quantifies the views of 34 leading retail chairman employing more than 1.45 million people, pessimism about the future of retail has hit its highest level since 2012 at the peak of the recession.”


“The controversial budget plans of Italy’s populist government are hanging on an economic premise that looks too optimistic. A week after releasing an initial deficit target, the coalition finally unveiled the figures underpinning that aim. It sees growth of 1.5 percent in 2019, followed by 1.6 percent and 1.4 percent in subsequent years. By comparison, the median in Bloomberg’s latest survey is for expansion of no more 1.2 percent.”


“Italian banks have been restructuring in recent years, raising capital to fund disposals of bad debt and cutting costs. But loan losses and negative interest rates hurt earnings and mean returns do not cover their cost of equity. Market stress is meanwhile driving up the cost of funding.”


“Crude oil prices continue to climb.. Recent price moves bear a strong resemblance to previous price spikes in 2007-2008 and 2010-2012… Prices in Indian rupees are already at the same level that they peaked in 2008 and on the way to the record set in 2013… Only the strength of the dollar against other currencies is masking how high prices have become in oil-consuming countries outside the US…

“The oil market has become locked in an upward price trend… Hedge funds and other money managers have accumulated bullish long positions betting on a further rise in prices amounting to almost 1.2 billion barrels of oil.”


“The jump in interest rates on Thursday may be just the beginning, Jim Grant, editor of a closely followed market newsletter, told CNBC… Grant, a frequent critic of the Federal Reserve, blamed central banks for a “huge distortion” of interest rates because they pushed them down for the better part of 10 years. He thinks that will have consequences for the economy because people have borrowed at false prices.”


So, to recap, we have:

*Rising interest rates in the US causing other currencies to weaken relative to the $ and forcing other nations to raise their rates

*Demand-destroyingly high oil prices

*Unprecedented levels of global debt

*Stocks and property priced hopelessly unrealistically on the back of ten years’ artificial central bank stimulus

*Ever-worsening energy and resource constraints; climate change; loss of biodiversity; destruction of the environment etc. all acting as ‘axial stressors’ on the financial system

*The rise of protectionist trade policies and a world of increasingly fractious and polarised politics.

Literally all the ingredients are in place for GFC 2.0. We’re just waiting for the proximate catalyst to make itself known now…

Read yesterday’s ‘Economy’ thread here and visit my Patreon page here.