31st July 2020 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

The world economic outlook has dimmed again, with still-rising coronavirus infections and the risk of renewed lockdowns increasing the chances that any rebound will reverse course, according to Reuters polls of over 500 economists globally…

““We expect the economic reality of the virus to start catching up with businesses across the globe soon,” said Jan Lambregts, global head financial markets research at Rabobank.”


An economy badly battered by the coronavirus shrank at a record 32.9% annual pace in the second quarter, underscoring just how big a hole the U.S. finds itself in as it labors to recover from the deepest recession in American history…

“Previously GDP had never shrunk by more than 10% on an annualized basis in any quarter since the government began keeping track shortly after World War Two.”


This unconscionable withdrawal of support [for the US unemployed] comes as the federal eviction moratorium on federally backed properties has expired, while a number of state and local eviction moratoriums are set to expire soon.

“These two expirations are threatening to collide and make millions of people homeless in the middle of a global pandemic.”


At a congressional hearing this month, extremism researcher J.J. MacNab delivered a warning: “There is a potential street war brewing.”

“MacNab cited the dangerous mix of armed factions squaring off at protests around the United States.”


“This economy is bad. It is not on the verge of recovery, but Wall Street has recovered. The S&P 500 is within 5% of its peak and the DJIA has risen about 40% in four months…

“…when it comes to the markets, remember that what Wall Street doesn’t know will hurt us.”


Corporate America is finding it hard to kick the share buyback habit, even after the US slipped into its worst recession in decades

“Updates showed that some of the largest US multinationals continued to buy back their own stock or even accelerated stock repurchases.”


The plunge in real interest rates is bad news for stocks, if historical relationships between the two hold.”


“After the U.S. dollar was removed from the gold convertibility, Debt began to climb rapidly and, during the Great Financial Crisis, cumulative Debt soared past cumulative GDP and has since gone parabolic…

“Since 1982, if you backed out Debt from the equation, the economy would have actually been shrinking.If we back out just the Federal Debt alone from GDP, it would have been negative in most quarters since 2008.

“This has been a global phenomenon. Globally, GDP produced from Debt has declined on average over 11% in comparison to 2009…

“…it’s possible that we may have crossed the secular, systemic Rubicon into a new paradigm in which the expansion of money supply has no effect, or even a negative effect, on GDP growth.”


Mexico’s economy contracted 17.3 per cent in the second quarter compared with the previous three months, putting it on course to be one of the biggest emerging market casualties of the coronavirus pandemic.

It is the fifth quarterly contraction in a row.”


In the first half of the year, Pemex increased its net debt by 26.1pc, to $105.5bn, while posting a $26.4bn net income loss.

“Currency devaluation and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on global energy demand combined to wreak havoc on company profits.”


Demonstrators in northern Mexico have burned several government vehicles, blocked railway tracks and set afire a government office and highway tollbooths to protest water payments to the United States.”


“Britain’s economy has begun to repair the damage from the coronavirus lockdown as restrictions are gradually lifted, despite mounting concern over the long-term damage to the jobs market, according to a Guardian analysis…

“…the hit to UK employment and household finances is gathering pace.”


A so-called no-deal Brexit, meaning the United Kingdom parting company completely with the European Union without any trade deal, is looking increasingly likely.

“Time is running out for the EU and the UK to agree to any sort of framework for a Brexit trade deal…”


“Britain’s leading lenders are in a “fragile state” and the Bank of England’s supervision of the financial sector has “turned out to be a disaster, again”, a think tank has said.

“The Institute of Economic Affairs dismissed claims that banks were strong enough to survive a more severe financial crisis than the last as “hogwash”. Oversight of the capital they hold includes “more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese”, it claims.”


France’s economy contracted by a record 13.8 percent in the second quarter under the impact of coronavirus lockdowns, the national statistics institute INSEE said on Friday

“The second quarter figure means the French economy has been shrinking for three consecutive quarters and continues to be in recession.” [ie it was shrinking *before* the pandemic.]


It’s an astounding figure: minus 10.1%. Never before in Germany’s postwar history has the country’s economy slumped as sharply as in the second quarter of 2020. This is a historic day

“…there’s another problem: The number of companies with high debts and low profits is currently increasing dramatically, not only in Germany but also in other European countries and the US. In other words: The profits will not be enough to pay the interest due.”


ffGerman rail group Deutsche Bahn said Thursday it has plunged into its deepest financial crisis with a huge first half loss of 3.7 billion euros as the coronavirus pandemic slammed the brakes on travel.”


“Anti-government protesters have occupied two key crossroads in central Sofia, threatening to block traffic until the conservative government they accuse of corruption resigns.

Thousands of people have rallied for three weeks in the Bulgarian capital and other cities in the EU member’s biggest protests in years.”


The Belarusian authorities have announced the arrest of 32 Russian mercenaries… Their alleged goal is to destabilise the situation leading up to the August 9 presidential elections.

“These elections have turned into a standoff between current president Alexander Lukashenko and united opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.”


Armed soldiers on Thursday forcibly shut down the Zimbabwean capital Harare, ordering people to leave the Central Business District, and businesses to close ahead of anti-government protests scheduled for Friday.

“The protests fall on the same day the contentious 2018 elections were held in the landlocked African country.”


It is fitting that as I write this I am guided only by the light from my screen and a candle, which I have placed not far from my feet. Power outages have long been a constant in Lebanon.

“The most severe economic crisis since the country’s independence, and the resulting fuel shortage, has meant that private generators have struggled to keep up with the additional burden.”


The controversy over the Lebanese central bank’s decision to record seigniorage as an asset in its crisis-torn balance sheet is no parochial matter. Across the world, strange things are happening to this important source of income for central banks and finance ministries.

“Described as the profit made from printing money, seigniorage is the difference between the amount central banks receive on issuing money and the much lower cost of producing it…”


Southeast Asia is on the brink of a “socio-economic crisis” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that could reverse decades of poverty reduction, the United Nations has warned.

““The crisis threatens to destroy the livelihoods of Southeast Asia’s 218 million informal workers,” a U.N. policy brief released on Thursday said.”


The coronavirus has plunged car makers around the world into one of the deepest crises in recent years and added to struggles the industry was already facing before the pandemic, with softening demand for cars and soaring costs for technology.”


COVID-19 has led to a global economic slowdown that is affecting all four pillars of food security—availability, access, utilization, and stability—according to a new article from researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), published in the journal Science.”


You can read the previous ‘Economic’ thread here and visit my Patreon page here.

30th July 2020 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

“…with such deep fragilities in the global economy, one cannot rule out an L-shaped Greater DepressionEnvironmental concerns are… mounting. In east Africa, desertification has created ideal conditions for biblical-scale locust swarms…

“….crop failures due to rising temperatures and desertification will drive hundreds of millions of people from hot tropical zones toward the US, Europe and other temperate regions in the coming decades. And other recent studies warn that climate “tipping points” such as the collapse of major ice sheets in Antarctica or Greenland could lead to a sudden catastrophic sea-level rise.

“The links between climate change and pandemics are also becoming clearer… the economy could still quickly be derailed by another economic, financial, geopolitical or public-health tail risk, many of which have persisted and, in some cases, grown more acute during the current crisis…

“…we should not be surprised if one or more white swans emerge to shake the global economy again before the year is out.”


The U.S. economy likely contracted at its steepest pace since the Great Depression in the second quarter as the COVID-19 pandemic destroyed consumer and business spending, potentially wiping out more than five years of growth…

“…momentum has slowed amid a resurgence in new cases of the illness, especially in the densely populated South and West regions…”


“The Federal Reserve took little action at its meeting this week, but sent plenty of dovish signals to investors — highlighting its worries about the impact of coronavirus on a US recovery, its hopes that Congress will renew fiscal stimulus, and its willingness to add monetary support.

“We’ve got to hope for the best and plan for the worst,” Jay Powell, the chairman of the US central bank, said…”


“As Senate Republicans look to slash the extra $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits provided by the CARES Act, 31.5% of Americans with lost income (35% of women and 26% of men) say they could not live without the supplemental checks for more than a month, according to a recent study from The Ascent, the personal finance section of The Motley Fool.”


The American economy has lived on debt for a long time… U.S. companies owe …an eye-watering $17 trillion, the Financial Times reported earlier this month…

“In the last few months, this mountain of corporate debt has been compounded by a once-in-a-century event… debt maturities put the livelihoods of millions of Americans at stake.”


““I’m not sure where it’s all going and if we will survive,” says Chris Wolfe, owner of UK wholesaler Southeast Flowers, pointing to the hundreds of weddings cancelled at short notice and the flowers that died on the way from Ecuador…

Companies such as Ms Wolfe’s are now at the centre of the crisis that the British economy is set to face in the coming months.”


More than 11,000 people in the UK’s automotive industry have lost their job in the last six months due to coronavirus, as the sector heads for its worst year of car production since 1957…

The last six months have been the weakest for vehicle manufacturing since 1954.”


A disorderly break with the European Union at the end of the year poses a bigger threat to Britain’s food supplies than the coronavirus pandemic that saw supermarket shelves emptied, a Parliamentary committee warned…

““The government cannot afford to be complacent,” the report said.”


The coronavirus struck at the heart of the British banking system yesterday as it wreaked havoc on the finances of two of the country’s biggest lenders. In a grim economic sign, Barclays has earmarked £3.7billion so far this year to cover the cost of loans to households and businesses turning sour, up £1.6billion since March.

“And Spanish giant Santander Group wrote down the value of its UK arm by £5.4billion as profits dwindled.”


Spanish multinational banking firm Santander fell to its largest loss in history following a massive write-down on some of its businesses.

“The group slumped to a €10.8billion (£9.8billion) loss in the first half of the year…”


The coronavirus pandemic has forced Hong Kong into an even deeper recession. And it may take longer than expected to recover. The Asian financial hub’s economy shrank 9% in the three months through June…

“Hong Kong had already fallen into recession last year — its first in a decade — because of months of anti-government protests and the US-China trade war.”


The virus has disrupted global and local food systems, and India’s poor and hungry are being affected worse than ever

“The pandemic amplified the vulnerabilities of the national food system. It has disrupted local, regional and national supply chains, adding to the impacts of the country’s food waste problem.”


More than 11 million people in Latin America are “marching towards the brink of starvation” due to economic conditions exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, the U.N.’s food agency chief David Beasley has warned.

“”The COVID-19 pandemic has just been devastating in Latin America, where the economic storm clouds were already gathering,” Beasley said in a statement put out by the World Food Program on Wednesday…”


Venezuela’s total economic collapse has fuelled a large-scale, complex and underfunded humanitarian crisis. An estimated 4.5 million Venezuelans have fled a country blighted by unemployment, collapsing utilities, a defunct healthcare system and severe food shortages.

“And as refugees, it is women who have been the most vulnerable to labour and sexual exploitation, trafficking and violence.”


The Covid-19 crisis has taken a big bite out of the chocolate market, causing a collapse in demand that has sent cocoa prices sharply lower and created “disastrous” conditions for farmers…

The pandemic has already created a crisis for farmers, said Nestor Yao, president of the Capressa farmer co-operative, which represents about 3,200 farmers in Abengourou, in eastern Ivory Coast.”


“A global squeeze on disposal income and a lockdown in the key Indian market caused a collapse in demand for gold jewellery in the first half of the year, according to new figures that underscore how record precious metals prices are being driven by demand from financial investors

“…weak physical demand for gold was more than offset by record inflows into gold-backed exchange traded funds…”


The crippling effects of the coronavirus crisis have crushed government and corporate finances and sent debt soaring… it is also crunching their credit ratings and causing a spike in defaults.”


“Six months on from the first signs that coronavirus had the potential to be a major global problem, a new type of outbreak is spreading from the East. Last week, South Korea officially went into recession, while Australia also recorded its largest budget deficit since the Second World War.

“Meanwhile, when you look to the west, the USA is still battling new surges in virus outbreaks, while watching the global recession take shape like an oncoming storm.”


You can read the previous ‘Economic thread here and visit my Patreon page here.

29th July 2020 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

The world economy’s fragile recovery is in danger of stalling. A resurgence of coronavirus infections across the Asia-Pacific region, which was considered to have broadly curbed the virus more effectively than elsewhere, is being viewed as an early warning for the rest of the world…

“…Yelp Inc. estimates that more than half of the U.S. business closures that were temporary when the virus outbreak began are now considered permanent.”


“”I’m certainly not qualified to make any predictions around if we’re going to be in a recession or not, but I’d certainly say there are a lot of warning signs out there that suggest that the consumer sentiment and the concern about the economy is negative and going in the wrong direction,” McDonald’s CEO, Chris Kempczinski said.


“Schools are shuttered and child-care options restricted, working parents across the country are shouldering unexpected child-care burdens. Many will not be able to return to work until they can find safe, affordable child care.

“At the same time, the [US] child-care industry is collapsing under pandemic-inflicted financial pressure.”


Privately held companies, particularly smaller operations, are starting to feel more pain from the coronavirus pandemic as loan default rates rise while their lenders and private-equity backers seek ways to steer them safely to the end of the year…

“Advisers and turnaround experts say they expect defaults to continue rising as more loan payments come due over the next few quarters…”


Japanese Style Price Fixing by the Fed is On the Way

“The world needs a market price for the 10-year Treasury yield, and Mr. Powell is threatening to take that away…

“”We don’t know what price the global economy would pay for such a policy in economic distortions or financial instability. The Fed doesn’t know either. No one should be eager to find out.””


“UK Banks may set aside a figure approaching £100 billion for bad debts for the first half of this year, analysts believe…

“…yet the true picture of how bad the Covid-19 pandemic has been for financial institutions in Europe and the United States will not become clear until the autumn or even the end of year, when recession starts to bite.”


UK food banks experienced their “busiest month ever” during the coronavirus crisis as families faced a loss of income due to job losses or furlough schemes, the Trussell Trust has said.

“The food bank network saw an 89% increase in demand for emergency food parcels in April compared to the same period in 2019.”


Banks in the euro area could soon face difficulties if the current crisis deepens and erodes their capital positions, Andrea Enria, chair of the European Central Bank’s supervisory board, told CNBC in an exclusive interview on Tuesday…

“…if the economic crisis persists the depletion of bank capital could be “material.””


Australia’s biggest fall in consumer prices since the depths of the Great Depression in 1931 has prompted concerns the economy will struggle to escape the grips of the coronavirus pandemic and force the Reserve Bank to leave official interest rates at record lows for even longer.

“The consumer price index fell by 1.9 per cent in the June quarter, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported on Wednesday…”


“As Papua New Guinea stands on the edge of the precipice of an unchecked Covid-19 outbreak, and other Pacific island nations face economic devastation trying to keep the virus from their shores, health professionals have warned the broader health impacts of the fight against the novel coronavirus could be as devastating as the virus itself.”


“Put a frog in boiling water and it will jump out. Put a frog in cold water and slowly raise the temperature, and it won’t notice—or so the story goes. It may not actually be true for frogs, but investors in the equity of China’s major banks may discover that recognizing major threats quickly is better than allowing the reality to sink in over time…

“…nonperforming-loan ratios are already far higher than Chinese banks actually report.”


A shiver went through the UAE’s financial community last week when Emirates NDB, the champion of the Dubai banking business and one of the biggest banks in the region, declared figures for the first half of 2020

“Many financial institutions [in The Gulf] are becoming increasingly dependent on access to foreign funds…

“…there are loudly expressed concerns about international financial conditions in the second half of the year.”


Close to a million people in Beirut can no longer afford basic necessities and children are likely to starve to death this year, the charity Save The Children said Wednesday.

“The group said 910,000 people, more than half of them children, in the Greater Beirut area no longer have sufficient amounts of food because of the economic crisis.”


Pakistan’s Covid-19 outbreak is morphing into a food security crisis as massive wheat shortages emerge due to failing supply chains, poor government planning, unseasonal rains and, not least, pestilence…

“Pakistan’s economy has been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic.”


Rising demand, floods, insect infestations, and rumors of spoiled inventories are all contributing to China’s developing food related woes

“China, which holds just over half of the world’s wheat inventories and is the globe’s second largest producer of wheat…. has already imported more wheat in the first half of 2020 than it has in the first half of any year in the past decade.”


“In a world riven by disease and credit risk, traders are betting central bankers will pin down global borrowing costs for years to come — regardless of the consequences.

“With banks awash with cash, money markets are signaling that unsecured lending rates will stay near historic lows across Europe and the U.S., even as rising corporate bankruptcies add pressure to bank balance sheets.”

“…“Moral hazard is absolutely rampant,” said James Athey, investment director at Aberdeen Standard Investments in London. “There are some very disturbing outcomes possible: default, depression. And the more liquidity is pumped into the system without production to back it up, the more outright currency debasement there is.”


The extreme measures taken by central banks have provided relief but risk inflicting huge pain later on. These actions could potentially usher in a new regime akin to either the stagflation of the 1970s (most likely in my view) or depression of the 1930s…

“Investors need to perform a high-wire act. They dare not disregard the firepower of central banks. Nor can they ignore the likelihood that its unprecedented use could well herald a new era of upheavals; especially since markets had already lost any sense of connectivity with the real economy prior to the crisis.”


You can read the previous ‘Economic’ thread here and visit my Patreon page here.

28th July 2020 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

When JPMorganChase reported earnings in mid-July, CEO Jamie Dimon quipped: “This is not a normal recession… the recessionary part of this you’re going to see down the road.” This observation is spot on.

“…while small businesses are closing at Armageddon rates and large business bankruptcies are skyrocketing, the real recessionary pain has yet to be felt. Mr. Dimon was referring to the time when the helicopter money is no longer forthcoming, when production levels reflect all of the business failures, and when the unemployed aren’t receiving more [stimulus] income than they had been earning in their now defunct jobs.”


“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the proposal a “tailored and targeted” plan focused on getting children back to school and employees back to work and protecting corporations from lawsuits

“…while slashing the expiring supplemental unemployment benefits of $600 a week by two-thirds.”


With millions of Americans set to lose $600 a week in extra federal unemployment benefits — an economic lifeline during the pandemic — many thousands have yet to receive that money.

“State unemployment agencies have been so swamped with claims that more than $100 billion of benefits owed still haven’t been paid…”


The number of people claiming unemployment benefits per job vacancy in Britain has increased fivefold since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an employment thinktank.

“The Institute for Employment Studies (IES) said approximately eight people are claiming benefits support for every job opening, up from 1.5 people per job before the crisis began in March.”


France’s unemployment rate rose 24.5% in the second quarter amid the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s Ministry of Labour said Monday.

“A total of 4.149 million job seekers in metropolitan France registered in the second quarter with Pole emploi, a French governmental agency which logs unemployed people.”


Families across Europe are being put off traveling by the fear of contracting coronavirus, a lack of money as a result of being furloughed or laid-off altogether, and onerous quarantine rules.

“Hoteliers and restaurant owners across the Mediterranean are lamenting the absence of foreign visitors and glumly contemplating the loss of billions of pounds’ worth of revenue.”


Spain’s tourism sector risks losing more than 40 billion euros during this summer, due to the Coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19)…

“Last week, 10,220 persons in Spain tested positive for the COVID-19, while the town of Totana, Murcia has been shut after 55 persons were infected at a pub.”


Spain’s unemployment rate rose to 15.33% in the quarter from 14.41% in the first quarter of 2020

“Tens of thousands of firms in Spain have signed up for a temporary program by which the government partially subsidizes workers wages to avoid job losses. These workers aren’t included in the unemployment figures.”


The Turkish lira slumped towards a record low against the euro as investors’ long-running concerns over monetary policy in Turkey…

“The decline in the lira demonstrates that despite an aggressive effort by the central bank to keep the lira supported against the dollar, the currency remains under pressure.”


Eid al-Adha shopping market gloomy amid soaring inflation, pandemic in Turkey’s Istanbul.”



Is this the beginning of an Israeli Spring?

“…The sense that the country was crumbling and Netanyahu just didn’t care also became contagious.”


Unprecedented unemployment and the resultant financial crisis is pushing many Israelis to sell sperm to local sperm banks, the Times of Israel reported on Saturday. Sperm banks have reported a 300 per cent increase in donations.

“Donors apparently include soldiers who have been demobilised as well as students, many of whom were laid off from work or put on unpaid leave.”


Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the Lebanese government’s issuer rating to C, its lowest grade

“Facing its worst financial crisis since the country’s independence in 1943, Lebanon defaulted on $31 billion in eurobonds in March and then turned to the International Monetary Fund in May for a $10bn bailout package.

“With IMF negotiations stalled, the economy has deteriorated further. The currency, pegged to the dollar since 1997, has plunged more than 80 per cent.”


Clashes between Iraqi protesters and security forces in central Baghdad killed at least two demonstrators overnight, security and medical sources said on Monday.

“It was the first such deadly incident in months at Tahrir Square, which became a symbol of anti-government protests during months-long mass unrest last year.”


Rubber bullets and teargas have been used against protesters along the N1 highway near Joostenberg Vlakte [Cape Town, South Africa].

“This after the group Gatvol Capetonian called on communities across the city to block roads and bring the city to a standstill on Monday morning.

“Gatvol Capetonian was hoping to disrupt the lives of citizens to highlight the plight of communities in relation to various issues, including housing, job opportunities and poor service delivery.”


Almost a quarter of the population of Sudan are going hungry as conflict, rising food prices and the coronavirus take their toll. About 9.6 million people now face severe food shortages, the highest number recorded in the country’s recent history.”


The world is gearing up for a battle over developing-country debt like few it has seen before. Rich and poor countries are at loggerheads with private investors that, over the past decade, replaced governments as the biggest creditors to emerging markets…

“”Even before the crisis, a lot of countries were facing a lot of debt pressures,” said Abebe Aemro Selassie, director of the IMF’s African Department, “And you now have this really massive and all-encompassing shock.””


Asian airlines carried only 724,000 international passengers in June, a 98% slump from a year earlier, as restrictions on movement suppressed air travel, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines said…

“”“The industry is in a perilous condition… Airlines in the Asia Pacific region are rapidly depleting cash reserves and incurring massive losses.””


The long-term returns of Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC have dropped within a whisker of a record low struck during the financial crisis, and its chief executive cautioned on Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic would weigh on performance

“Even before the coronavirus struck, Lim said, investors were grappling with risks such as high indebtedness at companies, policy constraints and stretched valuations.”


“The world stands on the cusp of its third financial slump in a quarter of a century, as the cash unleashed by central banks is insufficient to stem the shrinking consumption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, said the former official who steered Hong Kong’s capital markets through the previous crises…

“I fear that the third financial crisis may be on the horizon,” Jospeh Yam said…”


You can read the previous ‘Economic’ thread here and visit my Patreon page here.

27th July 2020 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

Gold soared to an all-time high and the dollar weakened to a multiyear low on concerns that a resurgent coronavirus and rising tensions with Beijing could hit recovery in the world’s biggest economy.

“The price of the precious metal, which investors typically view as a haven in times of uncertainty, climbed as much as 2.2 per cent to a record $1,944.71 per troy ounce on Monday. Its value has jumped by more than a quarter this year…

This weekend we perhaps got a glimpse of how challenging life will be this winter without a vaccine,” said Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid, pointing to rising case numbers in the US and parts of Europe and Asia.””


Senate Republicans will agree to extend the enhanced weekly unemployment benefits, but would reduce benefits from $600 a week to approximately $200 a week

“Donald Trump, has argued, the $600 a week unemployment benefits mean that some recipients receive more money while they are unemployed compared to then they were working. Mnuchin echoed this sentiment, and says that this creates a potential disincentive to return to work.”


“The coronavirus has derailed the economy and the labor market, leading to 18 straight weeks with more than 1 million initial jobless claims.

The massive pool of unemployed Americans has quickly saturated the market for contract-based drivers and delivery people, just as ridership on services like Uber and Lyft has come to a screeching halt.”


Midtown Manhattan, the muscular power center of New York City for a century, faces an economic catastrophe, a cascade of loss upon loss that threatens to alter the very identity of the city’s corporate base.

“The coronavirus’s toll of lost professions, lost professionals and untold billions of lost income and tax revenue may take years to understand and resolve.”


Large demonstrations turned violent around the country over the weekend as tens of thousands of Americans continued a monthslong wave of civil unrest protesting racism and police tactics

“Protests have taken place across the U.S. after the May 25 death of George Floyd, who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis. But many marches grew in size and intensity over the weekend…”


[Canadian] generations who came before have suffered through the Great Depression, war-rationing, the collapse of the cod industry, and the more recent global recession of 2008…

… they have some advice for those of us facing …global recession. First, consider bartering, gardening and foraging.”


“Six months ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson celebrated Brexit by describing Britain as the Superman of global trade.

“Now, the UK risks becoming an also-ran, losing its easy access to the huge EU common market, unable to strike a groundbreaking deal with the United States and on the brink of a trade fight with China.”


Almost a quarter of small UK businesses have cut jobs in the past few months despite the government’s furlough scheme…

“Larger companies have unleashed a savage round of job cuts in recent weeks… However, many of the new jobs predicted in the next year were expected in smaller businesses that are struggling to survive…”


The scale of the economic carnage unleashed across the eurozone by Covid-19 lockdowns will be laid bare this week as experts brace for a record-breaking collapse in growth.

“City economists forecast a dramatic 15.6pc plunge in growth between April and June – four times deeper than the 3.6pc slide in the first quarter, which was itself a record for the 19-member currency bloc.”


Shares in Europe’s biggest travel companies tumbled on Monday as newly imposed travel curbs following a string of local spikes in coronavirus infections raised fears over the pandemic’s lasting impact on the industry

“Spain’s tourism sector is particularly feeling the brunt of the latest caution, prompting an angry response from Madrid. “Spain is a safe country,” said foreign minister Arancha González Laya.”


Europe’s biggest banks are set to unveil another huge round of provisions for loan losses, as they take stock of the damage wrought by Covid-19 around the globe

“Few economists are projecting rapid “V-shaped” recoveries and more pain is expected when government support schemes wind down in the autumn.”


Two out of every five [South African] adults interviewed between May and June reported that their household had lost its main source of income since the lockdown started. This has had devastating consequences for household food security and hunger.

“Of the adults we interviewed, 47% reported that their home ran out of money to buy food in April.”


Thousands took to the streets in Israel on Saturday evening, with the main protest taking place in capital Jerusalem outside the official residence of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu…

“The protests have been going on for the past few weeks, sparked by what critics see as a government failure to handle the coronavirus crisis after initially keeping the threat of the virus at bay.”


“…turmoil is universal in the wake of the pandemic, but the despair is particularly pronounced in the Middle East, where wave after wave of war, displacement and disease has left this generation feeling bitter and hopeless…

“…the pandemic in some Arab countries was the final blow to economies now on the cusp of complete collapse.”


With the gradual increase in inflation in Iran since the beginning of 2020, the purchasing power of the people, especially the lower classes of society, has sharply decreased.

“Criticizing the rise in inflation, Mohammad Ghasemi, Head of Parliamentary Research Center, said: “We are born and aged with double-digit inflation…

“The inflation rate in Iran is one of the highest inflation rates in the world.””


Tens of thousands of people have marched across Russia’s southeastern city of Khabarovsk on the border with China to protest the arrest of the regional governor on murder charges…

“…continuing a two-week wave of protests that has challenged the Kremlin.”


Hundreds of Thai protesters sang a Japanese cartoon jingle on Sunday with lyrics mocking the government as hungry hamsters feasting on taxpayer cash

“…[it is] part of a new protest movement by youth who say they are using whimsical tactics for serious ends.”


“The FT has constructed its own measure of the slowdown and recovery. Official figures lag behind activity, since they are mostly monthly, and China’s data is sometimes viewed as open to political manipulation.

“After showing steady improvement since the trough in February, the index indicates China’s recovery has fallen back in recent weeks.”


The Chinese military began live-fire drills in the South China Sea on Saturday in a challenge to U.S. freedom of navigation operations there, as the two powers trade shows of military and diplomatic force

“The exercises are the latest move in a sharp rise in tensions between China and the U.S. in recent weeks over the South China Sea, the vast majority of which is claimed by Beijing under its “nine-dash line.””


“Australian beef exports into China are set to face increasing competition, while wool producers are being urged to minimise their reliance on Chinese demand, as trade tensions with Beijing continue to shape Australia’s agriculture industry

“…reports suggested thermal coal mines in Australia have been temporarily shutting down as a result of a drop-off in demand caused by Beijing’s directive…”


The financial system has turned credit intermediation into a debt mint that produces assets to enrich investors but leaves households, firms, and governments struggling with unsustainable liabilities.

“The COVID-19 crisis makes reform more urgent than ever.”


“One of the unexpected consequences of the COVID crisis and the international response to it may well be to accelerate the transition to digital wallets.

In a world of digital currency, the government could press a few buttons and send the stimulus cash into consumers’ pockets in a flash.”


“The main driver behind gold’s latest rally “has been real rates that continue to plummet and don’t show signs of easing anytime soon,” Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at Oanda Corp., said by phone.

“”Gold is also drawing investors “concerned that stagflation will win out…””


You can read the previous ‘Economic’ thread here and visit my Patreon page here.

24th July 2020 Today’s Round-Up of Economic News

US Job losses showed no letup as a surge in coronavirus cases forced new business shutdowns and a $600 weekly federal benefit inched to its expiration.

“New state unemployment claims increased last week for the first time in nearly four months, disturbing evidence that the struggling economy is backsliding at a time when coronavirus cases are on the rise.”


“With a delay until next week, it’s almost assured that the federal unemployment benefits of $600 per week will expire.

We’ve heard mention of benefits being lowered to $200 or less per week.”


““I will be making $400 a week with just regular unemployment, which I might be able to scrape that together and make that work, but what will I be eating?” said unemployed actor Jonathan Hoover.”


“The concern isn’t whether the US dollar will see an accumulated decline of 30 per cent in the future, but whether there will be a blow-up event that causes a sudden loss of confidence in the US dollar, and its market to collapse,” said Zhu, who is currently head of the National Financial Research Institute at Tsinghua University in Beijing.”


China has announced the closure of the US consulate in Chengdu just days after Washington gave Beijing 72 hours to vacate its Houston consulate.

“Tensions between the world’s two superpowers have risen to their most dangerous level in decades…”


President Donald Trump said that the trade accord with China means “much less to me” because of what he called that country’s role in the spread of the coronavirus

“Trump has sought to pin blame on China for the outbreak as polls show a growing number of voters disapprove of his handling of the pandemic.”


The United States government must remove tariffs imposed on European products such as French wine, said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Friday.”


Michel Barnier has said a trade and security deal with Boris Johnson’s government by the end of the year appeared “unlikely”, as he complained that Britain was demanding “near total exclusion” of European fishing boats from its waters.

““It is unfortunately clear that we will not reach in July the ‘early understanding on the principles underlying any agreement’ that was set as an aim,” the UK’s Chief Negotiator, David Frost said.”


Unemployment in Sweden rose in June, with over half a million people in total without work, and young people are the most severely affected.

“”We are in principle back at the peak of unemployment during the financial crisis,” said Olle Holmgren, an economist at bank SEB.”


Thousands of protesters have again taken to the streets in Bulgaria to protest alleged government corruption, with many calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Boïko Borissov, his centre-right government and the chief prosecutor.

The demonstrations in Sofia on Wednesday were the 14th consecutive day that protesters have been calling for change.”


Turkey’s central bank said on Monday the country’s external debt maturing in a year or less stood at $169.5 billion, up nearly $5 billion from a month earlier

“At $22 billion, Turkey’s non-performing loans (NPLs) have remained high since a 2018 currency crisis laid bare the heavy reliance of construction and energy companies on foreign debt.”


Tunisia’s resigning prime minister, warned on Thursday of the imminent bankruptcy of public corporations due to financial problems

“He said that, “Public firms are on the verge of collapse and the economic situation is in a state of turmoil.””


Hyperinflation has blighted Zimbabwe, Venezuela and the former Yugoslavia among others over the years…

The occurrence happens when a country’s inflation rate exceeds 50% per month over a period of time, defined by Hanke as 30 consecutive days. That happened in Lebanon this week.”


China’s banking regulator has asked the country’s lenders to make preparations for a “big rise” in non-performing loans as part of Beijing’s efforts to brace its financial system for shocks from the coronavirus at home and a hostile environment abroad.

“Runs on China’s small banks have become more frequent amid the current turmoil, while the loan repayment capabilities of Chinese companies and households have been undermined by the impact of the coronavirus.”


South Korea’s vice finance minister warned Friday that the economic impact triggered by the coronavirus pandemic is worse than the 2008 global financial crisis.

“Vice Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom said the nation’s export slump is likely to be deeper and prolonged due to a resurgence of the virus across the world.”


Thailand’s student movement has reignited, as young people across the country defy threats from the military-backed government to take to the streets and call for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha…

“The surge in protests comes at a difficult time for the country, which remains under a state of emergency to contain the coronavirus pandemic.”


Australians’ deepening raid on their pension funds is driving a surge in debt repayments, which analysts say makes for a double-whammy on the domestic stock market and its dominant big banks as the country sinks into its first recession in a generation.”


New Zealand’s Ministry of Social Development figures have revealed there are more people receiving income support than during the Global Financial Crisis

“”Taking four months to do what during the GFC took 21 months highlights the tough position for a number of Kiwis and a number of businesses out there,” he told Newshub.”


Risks of failure in $6.6tn forex market at record high, study shows:

““Given the way in which FX trading has evolved, we have to think of additional ways to solve the problem of systemic risk,” said Marc Bayle de Jessé, chief executive of CLS, who joined the New York-based company last year after more than 20 years at the European Central Bank.”


“Recall that every debt that crushes the borrower is an asset that yields monthly interest to the affluent owners of that debt.

“When unemployed people default on their student loans, the value of those loans falls, and the income flowing to the affluent owners of the debt drops to zero.

This is the key dynamic of the economy going forward: defaults on debt, declining wealth as assets are relentlessly repriced lower and sharp declines in income due to layoffs and debt defaults.”


My focus is on areas of risk and weakness but the overarching narrative right now is very mixed – there are some tentative “green shoots” appearing for example in German manufacturing (composite Eurozone manufacturing PMI has risen for the first time since February), UK retail and services, US home sales etc. but of course this is all tenuous and fragile, given that the pandemic continues apace and the underpinnings are so wobbly.

The fact that gold and copper are have been rising simultaneously is perfectly illustrative of the current ambiguity and uncertainty.


You can read the previous ‘Economic’ thread here and visit my Patreon page here.