Pulse: Growth Outlook and Business Cycle
As some of my more patient friends know, I have been toiling away at a book on Chinese monetary history during the Interwar period off and on for some years. Immersing myself in the public and private words of the historic figures of the 1930’s has perhaps sensitized me to the propensity of even well-intentioned leaders to glide into chaos. That which is unthinkable inexorably becomes inevitable.
The latest quarterly report by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) underlines the change in the relationship between the major central banks and financial markets. Claude Borrio, the BIS’s Chief Economist, describes the “extraordinarily tight” relationship between central banks and financial markets in the aftermath of the financial crisis and recession of 2008. Thus, the financial markets scrutinize the central banks for cues, while at the same time relying on central bank “puts” for comfort.
This morning’s very upbeat February Existing Home Sales report. Also this morning, wholesale book-value inventories jumped +1.2% in January; the consensus had expected only a modest gain. However, international data was more worrisome with Germany’s Markit PMI falling further into the red, down -3 points to 44 in March (50 is break-even).
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Please check out FMI's analysis of this morning’s very upbeat February Existing Home Sales report. Also this morning, wholesale book-value inventories jumped +1.2% in January; the consensus had expected only a modest gain. However, international data was more worrisome with Germany’s Markit PMI falling further into the red, down -3 points to 44 in March (50 is break-even).
The European Central Bank (ECB) replicated the Federal Reserve Bank’s earlier U-turn on monetary policy at its latest meeting. Barely three months after the central bank announcing an end to Quantitative Easing (QE), Mario Draghi, the ECB president, pulled the alarm over the sharp economic slowdown and announced a two-pronged approach. First, the central bank would continue its ultra-low interest rates policy at last through the end of 2019. Second, barely three months after announcing), the ECB will provide continued support to financial markets and banks.
Another amazing week. As politics got murkier however, markets surged higher. In terms of what will be remembered decades from now, the event that shocked nearly everyone was the abrupt ending of the US-North Korea Summit. As the next set of leadership-level meetings loom this month, surely the Chinese must be reevaluating their strategy vis-à-vis President Donald Trump. What these negotiations have in common is that in both cases the US is asking Kim Jun-un and Xi Jinping for structural changes that for different reasons each might have trouble delivering.
Predicting the future is notoriously difficult, but that doesn’t stop the flurry of prognostications every January. We’ve gathered a selection of 2019 forecasts, including some predicting low probability events, because just imagining the unlikely can reveal horizons sometimes obstructed by conventional wisdom.
Like previous “year ahead” reviews I have published on EconVue, this is not intended as a prediction of how events will necessarily unfold in real life. Instead, as always my intent is above all to consider the main risks to the stability to the international political and economic environment in various regions of the world that I am relatively familiar with.