“Factory activity in the eurozone contracted at the fastest pace in nearly six years… The bloc’s aggregate PMI fell to 47.6 in March from 49.3, well below the 50 threshold that is the baseline for whether the sector is expanding or contracting…
“Japan’s manufacturing PMI also has fallen into contraction territory, following China’s weakening readings that started falling below 50 late last year… The market will likely be on pins and needles for the rest of this week awaiting readings on the U.S. economy.”
“A second major power cut in just a few hours has plunged the Venezuelan capital Caracas into darkness again, with other regions also affected. It came after a four-hour blackout on Monday which the government sought to blame on opposition sabotage.
“A nationwide power cut earlier this month prompted looting and desperation in many parts of the country.”
“The United States’ central bank may have to dust off some of the tools that helped steer the economy through the global financial crisis a decade ago should another recession hit, Boston Federal Reserve Bank president Eric Rosengren said on Tuesday.
“With interest rates already low leaving limited room for cuts, the US Federal Reserve would likely have to turn to quantitative easing and other balance sheet tools to stimulate its economy, in the case of a downturn.”
“The emergency tool kit that helped to pull the global economy out of the Great Financial Crisis might not work a second time, the world’s lender of last resort has warned. David Lipton, deputy director of the Washington-based International Monetary Fund, delivered a stark warning about the depleted power of central banks and governments to combat another sharp economic shock.”
“The world is wealthier now than it’s ever been – but only on paper. Much of this prosperity may prove illusory as a global shift toward less liquid investments undermines the basis of valuation.
“Private equity, infrastructure and private credit have become a bigger share of investment portfolios, making mark-to-market values increasingly uncertain. The standard method of valuing assets assumes prices are available and that there is adequate trading liquidity to be able to sell at those levels. This may hold for traditional investments such as stocks and bonds. But assets such as private equity are rarely traded or not tradeable at all, necessitating the use of models or proxies instead.”
“Climate change is becoming increasingly relevant to central bankers because losses from natural disasters that are magnified by higher temperatures and elevated sea levels could spark a financial crisis, a Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco researcher found.
““Climate-related financial risks could affect the economy through elevated credit spreads, greater precautionary saving, and, in the extreme, a financial crisis,’’ Glenn Rudebusch, the San Francisco Fed’s executive vice president for research, wrote in a paper published Monday.”
“Fears of global recession continued to spook equity markets this morning, with stocks in Asia down sharply and those in Europe sliding.
“Investors ditched shares and fled to the safety of bonds as risk assets fell out of favour on growing fears of a recession in the United States, sending global yields plunging.
“Concerns about the health of the world economy heightened last week after cautious remarks by the US Federal Reserve sent ten-year treasury yields to the lowest since early 2018.
“US ten-year treasury yields were 1.9 basis points below three-month rates after yields inverted for the first time since 2007 on Friday. Historically an inverted yield curve, where long-term rates fall below short-term rates, has signalled an approaching recession.”
“Wherever you look in developed markets, sovereign bond yields are at their lowest levels in years as traders ratchet up bets that major central banks will be easing.
“Yields in Australia and New Zealand dropped to record lows after a closely-watched part of the U.S. curve inverted on Friday as investors wager that the Federal Reserve will need to cut rates. Trading volumes in Treasury future were double the norm during Asian trading, while Japan’s 10-year yields fell to the lowest since 2016.”
“This was supposed to be the year when, more than a decade after the crisis, the world made some progress in unwinding the unconventional policies that encouraged excessive risk-taking and shifted the global financial system onto sounder footings. That moment now appears to have been pushed further away and the economic downturn that seems to be developing might well force a fresh burst of GFC-inspired policies.”
“Britain’s escalating national emergency over Brexit has led optimism in the financial services industry to plunge at the fastest rate since the financial crisis, according to a business survey.
“In the latest warning that the political gridlock over leaving the EU is damaging the economy, the survey of City banks, investment managers and insurance firms from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the accountancy firm PwC suggests companies are the most gloomy since December 2008…”
“Two Russian military planes landed in Venezuela’s main airport on Saturday, reportedly carrying dozens of troops and large amounts of equipment. The planes were sent to “fulfil technical military contracts”, Russia’s Sputnik news agency reported.
“Javier Mayorca, a Venezuelan journalist, wrote on Twitter that he saw about 100 troops and 35 tonnes of equipment offloaded from the planes.”
“Since the start of the year, some of the most visible companies in the US have warned growth is cooling in one segment or another of their businesses — at a time when global economic growth is under a microscope.
“Apple set the stage back in January with a revenue warning. Then weeks later, the industrial giant Caterpillar said its outlook for this year assumed “modest” sales growth. Amazon offered weak sales guidance in February, and FedEx said this week that its sales and profits came up short due to macroeconomic weakness.”
“Nick Tolchard, head of Invesco’s Europe, the Middle East and Africa fixed income division, writes in the report that “respondents broadly view global economic conditions as being late-cycle – expecting an end to the long-running global expansion within one to two years”. In particular, investors said they see high levels of government debt, brought on following the financial crisis and as a result of ongoing structural fiscal deficits, as the main risk.”
“US corporate debt, excluding debt by banks – so “nonfinancial” corporate debt – has surged in recent years by all measures and to such an extent that it was featured prominently in the Fed’s Financial Stability Report, in terms of what might trigger the next financial crisis. The Fed is counting total nonfinancial business debts, which include the debts of businesses that are not incorporated. It found about $17 trillion in debts…
“South Korean exports, seen as a bellwether for global trade, fell nearly 5%in the first 20 days of March…
“Exports to China and Japan fell by more than 10%. Shipments of microchips, oil products, and telecoms devices were all down.
“These data bode ill for [the first quarter],” said Freya Beamish, chief Asia economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. She says the decline suggests an annualized plunge of 27.6% for the full month, a far sharper contraction than the 9.7% fall in the fourth quarter of 2018.
“The nation’s 20-day exports shrunk 11.7% in February, and there could be worse to come. “Leading indicators suggest the floor is not yet in sight,” Beamish said.
“South Korea’s export data is one of the first major economic indicators released each month… The latest downswing will fan fears of slowing growth in China and recession in Japan.”
“In 2009, China launched a $600 billion (€528 billion) stimulus program in an attempt to shield itself from the worst effects of the global financial crisis. Through its system of regional banks, the government offered cheap loans to thousands of state-run industrial enterprises, including steel, aluminum, cement and coal producers…
“A decade on, many of the estimated 10,000 zombie companies — including more than 2,000 funded by the central government — are losing money hand over fist, partly as a result of their own massive excess capacity.”
“Let’s be very clear what Wednesday’s full-frontal capitulation by the Fed means: It’s coming. The next recession that is. It’s just a matter of the how and the when… the Fed will never, ever overtly tell you a recession is coming.
“They can’t. Their underlying primary mission is to keep confidence up. A Fed predicting a recession would cause all kinds of havoc in capital markets and almost certainly bring about a recession. So they won’t tell you, but their actions speak loud and clear.”
“Ten years into a bull market, Americans are getting jittery about when the music will stop and the next recession will tear through the economy… last month it was a spike in auto delinquencies that spooked market participants.
“The Federal Reserve reported the number of borrowers with auto loans more than 90-days delinquent shot up by 1.5 million in the fourth quarter, reaching a total of 7 million — the highest mark ever in absolute numbers.”
“The pound had its worst day in two months as traders suddenly awoke to the prospect of a no-deal Brexit. Sterling plunged as much 1.5 percent against the dollar Thursday as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May gambled on getting her plan over the line with just over a week to go before the exit.
“Cable crumbled after the European Union told May that she can only have a short extension to delay Brexit if Parliament ratifies the divorce deal in a vote she wants to hold next week.”
“Uh oh, are the wheels starting to come off again?
“The prints here are rather poor as they all fall into contraction territory (below 50.0). Markit notes that French business recovery is running out of steam in the face of deteriorating demand and that “there is definitely a risk of renewed downturn in France”.”
“Germany’s manufacturing slump deepened this month amid tensions in global trade. IHS Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index for the sector fell to 44.7, the lowest since 2012 and well below economists’ expectation of 48.
!That’s the third consecutive reading below 50, which indicates contraction. Gauges for new orders and employment declined.”
“Mexico’s deputy finance minister said on Thursday the government was considering using part of a $15.4 billion public income stabilization fund to pay some debt obligations for heavily leveraged state oil company Pemex… Pemex has some $16 billion of debt payments due by the end of next year.”
“Argentina’s economy sharply contracted in the fourth quarter while unemployment rose, potentially hurting President Mauricio Macri’s approval ratings as he seeks re-election later this year.
“Gross domestic product fell 6.2 percent from a year ago, the country’s statistics institute said on Thursday. It was the worst quarterly performance since 2009 after the global financial crisis, although Argentine economic data was considered unreliable until 2016. Analysts had forecast a 6.4 percent contraction.”
“The stakes in Turkish elections this month could hardly be higher, if the behavior of local investors is anything to go by. Households and businesses scooped up another $4 billion of hard currency last week, the most since 2012, driving their holdings to a fresh record.
“Fueling the rush for foreign tender is inflation, which is eating away at their lira savings, and concern the government will double down on policies geared toward priming growth rather than reining in prices after municipal elections on March 31.”
“The markets’ responses to the latest US Federal Reserve Board’s interest rate and balance sheet decisions were telling…
“The nature of the Fed’s announcements – a majority of the members of its Open Market Committee expect no rate increases this year and the Fed plans to end the shrinking of its balance sheet by the start of October – ought to have been positive for the stock market. Instead the Dow Jones index ended more than half a percentage point down…
“There is a fundamental reason why what might previously have been regarded as good news by the markets (equity investors don’t like rising interest rates because they make bonds more attractive) wasn’t embraced enthusiastically by the markets.
“That’s because the Fed’s expectations of where rates might be at the end of this year and, indeed, in 2020, are based on its assessment of the economic outlook for the US. It’s not bullish…
“The impact of the tax cuts for business and wealthy individuals is waning; the trade policies have punctured China’s growth rate, slowed growth in the global economy and damaged the profitability and competitiveness of trade-exposed US businesses; US companies used the tax cuts to buy back their shares rather than invest, and consumer confidence and spending are faltering.
“With Trump saying the US tariffs on China’s exports will remain in place “for a substantial period of time” until China shows it is complying with the terms of the trade deal now being negotiated, the likelihood an early end to the damage being down to the world’s two largest economies is receding.
“With the Federal funds rate set within an historically low range of 2.25 per cent to 2.5 per cent and the balance sheet massively expanded relative to pre-crisis levels, the US financial system remains awash with cheap liquidity.
“Those are not settings that would reflect the super-charged growth targets Trump said he could deliver. Instead the Fed’s sudden shift in thinking and policies ought to have him worried about his re-election prospects and the rest of us worried about an even more significant global slowdown.”
“The worst agricultural downturn since the 1980s is taking its toll on the emotional well-being of American farmers. In Kentucky, Montana and Florida, operators at Farm Aid’s hotline have seen a doubling of contacts for everything from financial counseling to crisis assistance.
“In Wisconsin, Dale Meyer has started holding monthly forums in the basement of his Loganville church following the suicide of a fellow parishioner, a farmer who’d fallen on hard times. In Minnesota, rural counselor Ted Matthews says he’s getting more and more calls.”
“Are you sitting down for this? According to a recent survey, one in five American adults have nothing saved for retirement or emergencies. A further 20 percent have squirreled away only 5 percent or less of their annual income to meet certain financial goals.
“Less than a third of all Americans have saved at least 11 percent or more.”
“US tariffs on Chinese imports could remain in place for a “substantial period of time”, even extending beyond the reaching of a trade deal between Washington and Beijing, US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday.
““We’re talking about leaving [the tariffs] for a substantial period of time because we have to make sure that if we do the deal with China, that China lives by the deal,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.”
“Iranian leaders vowed on Thursday to control soaring prices, bring stability to the national currency and create jobs as the nation marked the end of a year of economic crisis fuelled by renewed U.S. sanctions.
“Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a new year speech that the Islamic Republic successfully resisted the U.S. sanctions, and called on the government to boost national production to face enemy pressures.”
“Rates have been at the historic low for a year and the bank gave no indication of plans to cut them any time soon despite slowing growth. The decision disappointed the powerful National Confederation of Industries, which issued a statement saying “the weak performance of economic activity shows that Brazil must reduce rates.”
“Brazil’s economy is still bearing the scars of the record recession in 2015-2016, with growth barely above one percent in the past two years. Recent economic indicators, though, show signs of a contraction in 2019.”
“Rolling power cuts that are blighting South African business and bringing the country’s streets to a grinding halt may continue indefinitely, the minister responsible for the nation’s bankrupt power company has warned.
“Lengthy blackouts were imposed across Africa’s most industrialised economy for a sixth day as the demand for power outstripped supply. Pravin Gordhan, the public enterprise minister, admitted to “a huge struggle ahead of us to overcome this crisis”.”
“The political wrangling over the past months has alarmed donors who have kept Tunisia afloat with loans granted in exchange for a promise of reforms such as cutting a bloated public service. The president’s son has accused Chahed of failing to tackle high inflation, unemployment and other problems.
“…since 2011, nine cabinets have failed to resolve Tunisia’s economic problems, which include high inflation and unemployment, and impatience is rising among lenders such as the International Monetary Fund.”
“Amid Haiti’s ongoing political and economic crisis and a mere six months after the government of Prime Minister Jean Henry Céant was sworn into office, the lower chamber of deputies dismissed the newly formed government by a vote of 93 in favour, six against, while three abstained.
“Lower Chamber President Gary Bodeau noted that neither Céant nor any of his cabinet ministers were present.”
“As Yemen’s war grinds into its fifth year with peace efforts stalling, ten-year-old Afaf’s father sees little hope he will be able to give his starving daughter the food or healthcare she needs.
“Across Yemen’s remote mountain villages, the country’s war-induced economic crisis has left parents like Hussein Abdu destitute, hungry and watching their children waste away from malnutrition and unclean water.”
“One of the UK’s major toilet tissue importers has been stockpiling to ensure it can maintain supplies in the event of a no-deal Brexit. German-owned Wepa has stockpiled an extra 600 tonnes of finished product, or about 3.5m rolls, in UK warehouses.
“UK boss Mike Docker said Wepa was now chartering ships to import materials, rather than use trucks. Last week, Morrisons’ chief executive said the supermarket had seen an increase in demand for toilet paper. David Potts speculated it might be related to people stockpiling goods ahead of the end of the March deadline for the UK to leave the EU.”
“Banks and other financial companies are shifting more assets and jobs out of the United Kingdom as the country lurches towards Brexit.
“Financial services companies in Britain have announced plans to move £1 trillion ($1.3 trillion) into the European Union, according to consultancy EY. That’s up from an earlier estimate of £800 billion ($1.1 trillion).”
“The European Union now has the lowest average number of primary dealers since the global financial crisis, trading body AFME said on Wednesday, as falling turnover in government bond markets have depressed trading revenues.”
“Economic conditions around the globe are steadily getting worse, and FedEx has slashed its revenue forecast for the second time this year with its Chief Financial Officer directly citing the faltering global economy…
“…as the global economy continues to deteriorate, we could quickly have a giant mess on our hands, because the global financial system is far more vulnerable today than it was in 2008.”
“…it doesn’t take a catastrophe like war or drought to disrupt [food supplies]. In Venezuela, a country blessed with rich oil reserves, a political crisis driven by rocketing inflation has led to shortages of food and medicine, forcing families to live off rotten meat and leading millions to leave the country all together. The Eurozone crisis that sent Greece’s economy to the brink of collapse also brought food shortages to the struggling country.
“Meanwhile, disease, poor weather and rising prices have led to shortages of a number of popular crops in recent years. Soaring rice prices led to panic buying in the Philippines and other Asian countries in 2008, causing a supply crisis for this staple food. Bad weather in Europe in 2017 saw prices of many vegetables rise while there also were worldwide shortages of avocados after several countries were hit by poor harvests.
“The fuel protests that hit the UK in 2000, where farmers and hauliers blockaded oil refineries and fuel depots, led to supermarkets rationing food as they struggled to get deliveries to restock their shelves. Even the stockpiling of food by schools, care homes, hospitals and pessimistic shoppers in the UK ahead of Brexit show what effect even the mere rumour of food shortages can have…”
“The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said Tuesday that the bloc was prepared for a no-deal Brexit scenario.
“Barnier acknowledged that the UK’s House of Commons had voted against leaving the EU without a deal last week but cautioned: “Voting against a No Deal does not prevent it from happening.” His advice then followed: “Finalise all preparations for a no-deal scenario.””
“Trade body Oil and Gas UK has released its 2019 business outlook, setting out that new exploration is expected bounce back from last year, which saw lowest levels since the 1960s, while production is also on the rise.
“Meanwhile drilling activity is at a “record low rate” and supply chain firms remain under “significant financial stress”.”
“There was an important piece of economic news this month that most Irish people probably considered a good development. Mario Draghi, the governor of the European Central Bank, promised to keep the ECB base rate of interest at zero for at least the rest of the year…
“It was widely believed that the ECB would want to raise rates here, if only to build up some space for a cut before the arrival of the next recession, when it will be needed.”
“When Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank confirmed they are holding formal talks about a merger, critics were quick to question a tie-up that may lead to tens of thousands of job losses and the potential failure of a plan that may do little to address underlying problems at both banks.
“Now, the European Central Bank is adding its criticism to the mix.”
“That the region’s financial institutions, including some of the biggest, are in a state of grinding decline is a grave cause for concern—and not just for their stockholders and bondholders. Europe relies heavily on its lenders to fuel growth. Banks provide about three-quarters of financing to companies and nine-tenths of credit to households. In the U.S., corporations rely on capital markets—selling bonds and shares—for the bulk of their financing.
“BOTTOM LINE – Europe is even more dependent on strong banks to fuel its economy than the U.S. Yet the continent’s lenders can’t seem to find healthy profits.”
“Confidence among Japanese manufacturers hit its weakest in two-and-a-half years in March, a Reuters poll showed, as global trade friction fuelled concerns that a postwar record growth cycle driven by Abenomics may be over…
“The central bank will closely read the results of its official tankan due out April 1…”
“Chief financial officers and even average U.S. citizens have been bracing themselves for a recession, either this year or next… A potential economic slowdown could convince the Federal Reserve to put off another interest rate hike, according to the poll. In January, 78% of respondents expected a rate hike sometime this year. That is down to 60% now.”
“Almost half of Americans carry a balance on their credit cards, a new survey finds, and paying it off is proving a challenge: Only about 30 percent of people with credit card debt say they’ll be able to wipe it out this year.”
“Hard to believe just five weeks ago we were shoveling snow; now we’re getting to get a taste of July!
“Temperatures zoomed well into the low-mid 70s Monday afternoon which not only knocked off the daily record high but a 75-degree reading at 2: 45 p.m. set a record for the warmest winter day ever recorded in Seattle! The only other time it’s been near this warm in winter was … last year. It hit 73 degrees on March 12, 2018. Huh.”
“”Temperatures upwards of 10 degrees above normal,” meteorologist Matt MacDonald said. “We’re going to be breaking several records and a lot of these records date back to the last 100 years. So this is quite an exceptional little heat spell.”
“The warmer-than-usual forecast comes a day after temperature records were broken across British Columbia, including a 72-year-old record in Pitt Meadows.”
“The governors of Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin have declared states of emergency. “This really is the most devastating flooding we’ve probably ever had in our state’s history, from the standpoint of how widespread it is,”
“Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts tweeted on Monday. “In 2011, it took 108 days for water to subside, and this year the water is 4-5 feet higher.””
“Add one more tornado to the total from Thursday’s severe weather. The National Weather Service in Birmingham said on Monday that it had confirmed that an EF0 tornado touched down March 14 in Calhoun County north of Ohatchee.
“That makes for a total of 16 tornadoes statewide. Fifteen of them struck central Alabama and one touched down in north Alabama.”
“Cyclone Trevor has slammed into the north Queensland coast with ferocious winds of more than 200km/h that are ripping trees from the ground.
“The powerful category three storm made “howling” landfall at 5pm just south of Lockhart River, one of a handful of towns on the Cape York Peninsula that has been urged to remain indoors until the storm passes.”
“The death toll from flash floods in Indonesia’s Papua region has risen to at least 80…
“People are frightened and some are blaming climate change according to Derek Windessy from Indonesia’s Red Cross. “Because it is still raining, raining and raining again. Last night still raining and some rivers throw up and flood through in the villages, so it’s hard,” he said. “Almost three days or four days. People cannot sleep well. And then they scare. So they need to move to the safety place now,” said Derek Windessy.”
“Davao City Government on Monday, March 18, conducted preemptive evacuation in several barangays ahead of Tropical Depression Chedeng, which has been forecast to make landfall over Davao Oriental or Davao Occidental.
“The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has placed the entire Davao Region under Tropical Cyclone Warning…”
“Drought has been declared in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, despite an ambitious government scheme to replenish ground water supplies.
So what went wrong? BBC Marathi investigates. “This year we received rains for only two days. But this is unlikely to last us for the next 15 days. The government will have to provide us water via tankers,” says Nana Dudhare, the head of Akhatwada village in Khultabad district.”
“A gritty, quick-acting cop jumped into the menacing water current of Al Beeh Wadi to rescue three families – comprising Emiratis and Asians – stuck in the flash floods [in UAE], triggered by thunderstorms and heavy rainfall, in Ras Al Khaimah on Sunday night.”
“A deadly tropical cyclone has destroyed as much as 90 per cent of the Mozambique city of Beira, raising fears for more than 500,000 people.
“According to the Red Cross, Cyclone Idai left devastation in its wake after it hit the major coastal city of half a million people on Thursday night with winds of up to 177 km/h (106 mph), before moving to Zimbabwe and Malawi.”
“As water supplies in Ghana’s capital grew increasingly erratic, Ms Beatrice Kabuki stopped customers from using her grocery store’s washrooms and installed a plastic storage tank at her home…
“Cities and towns in several other African nations including Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Ivory Coast have been plagued by similar water shortages in recent months, manifestations of a global supply squeeze brought on by drought, population growth, urbanisation and insufficient investment in dams and other infrastructure.”
“Monsoon-like conditions in North Yorkshire caused water to run from field into shed full of sheep.
“Environmental officials have put 20 flood warnings and 28 flood alerts in place across England today. Majority of alerts are in Yorkshire and the Midlands – and more rain is expected today in western parts.”
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Weekday updates on both climate change and the global economy. Stay current with what’s happening around the world with a quick scan of top news.