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April 21, 2014
"It is a reminder of how far we have to go [that full recovery] is projected to be more than two years away."
The week in review...
China: Great expectations Only in China would the recently announced 7.4% year-on-year (Y/y) GDP growth rate for 1Q2014 be considered a disappointment. But while the figure fell just below the highly-promoted 7.5% official objective, retail sales are growing at just over 12% Y/y and industrial production is still growing 8.8% Y/y –hardly the picture of gathering gloom. Foreign currency reserves have risen to nearly $4 tn despite a slowdown in exports – possibly due to measures taken to reduce the appreciation of the yuan against other world currencies. Aggregate financing is now over 2 tn yuan ($321.4 bn), suggesting that the campaign to regulate lending has yet to take hold. But government statements make clear that restraining the credit-fueled investment and real-estate boom is still the order of the day.
India: Democracy in action The scale of the general election currently under way is unique, with over 814 mn registered voters – an estimated 100 mn of whom are newly qualified. Results will be declared in mid-May. The estimated $500 mn spent by political parties is three times the amount spent in the previous election (2009). With consumer prices up 8.31% Y/y in Mar, there's a large reserve of dissatisfaction to be tapped by challengers. The most recent polls favor the party of high-profile Hindu nationalist and self-declared reformer Narendra Modi.
UK: Back to work The jobless rate for the three months ended Feb was 6.9%, down from 7.1% for the previous three months, lowest in five years and better than expected. The number of people "in work" in Britain hit a record high of 30.4 mn, or 72.6% of the workforce. Despite meeting the Bank of England's 7.0% unemployment goal a full two years ahead of schedule, the central bank has signaled that it will remain accommodative until early next year.
Eurozone: Banker's bluff As inflation for Mar dropped to a 0.5% annual rate, lowest since 2009, the euro continued to climb against the US dollar – increasing worries about the possible beginning of a deflationary spiral. ECB president Mario Draghi has spoken repeatedly about the bank's willingness to take "unconventional" steps to compensate for the euro's climb. So far, interest rates have reached post-crisis lows solely on the basis of Draghi's vow to do "whatever it takes" to keep the euro intact. But driving the euro down and banishing deflation may require more than a talking cure.
Demand pull Consumers are seeing the effects of what could be a gathering expansion. Advance figures for Mar retail sales, ex autos and gasoline, showed a 1.0% pickup M/m, well ahead of expectations. Perhaps less welcome, but also a good sign: consumer prices ex food and energy rose 1.7% Y/y in Mar. Also on the plus side: industrial production rose 0.7% for Mar, better than expected. But housing appears to be hitting a soft patch; housing starts rose 2.8% M/m in Mar, well below expectations, and building permits dropped -2.4%, declining more than expected.
Signs of the times:
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls Outlines Spending Cuts – Wall Street Journal
Russia tells EU leaders Ukraine debt may affect gas transit – Deutsche Welle
German Investor Confidence Falls for Fourth Month in April – Bloomberg
Japan's main working population falls below 80 mil – Kyodo
Sources: Bloomberg, Reuters, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, New York Times, xinhuanet, Deutsche Welle, Kyodo, China Banking Regulatory Commission.
...And the week ahead:
GLOBAL ECONOMIC CALENDAR: April 20 – April 26
Europe, UK, Africa, Mideast
Japan, Asia Ex Japan & Pac Rim
Japan: Exports, imports, trade balance
Chicago Fed national activity, leading economic indicators
Existing home sales & prices, FHFA home prices, weekly retail sales, Richmond Fed manufacturing & services surveys
Canada: wholesale sales
Mexico: unemployment rate
Argentina: economic activity
Eurozone: consumer confidence
China: non-government manufacturing survey
Hong Kong: consumer prices, unemployment rate
Australia: consumer prices
New home sales & prices, mortgage applications
Canada: retail sales
Mexico: retail sales, interest rate decision
Eurozone: manufacturing sector survey, services sector survey
Germany: manufacturing sector survey, services sector survey
France: manufacturing sector survey, services sector survey
Russia: business confidence
UK: industrial trends orders
South Africa: consumer prices
Singapore: consumer prices
South Korea: GDP, consumer confidence
Durable goods orders, initial jobless claims, Kansas City Fed manufacturing survey, Fed balance sheet, money supply
Germany: business expectations, business climate, current assessment
France: business survey
Italy: trade balance
Switzerland: trade balance
UK: retail sales, distribution trades survey
South Africa: producer prices
Japan: Consumer prices
Mexico: economic activity, interest rate decision
Brazil: foreign direct investment, current account, consumer confidence
Argentina: industrial production
Singapore: industrial production
Gross Domestic Product ("GDP") is an economic statistic which measures the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period of time.
The Federal Reserve Board ("Fed") is responsible for the formulation of U.S. policies designed to promote economic growth, full employment, stable prices, and a sustainable pattern of international trade and payments.
The European Central Bank (ECB) is responsible for the monetary system of the European Union (EU) and the euro currency.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is the regulator and conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the regulator of the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks.
Unless otherwise specified, all uses of the symbol "$" refer to US dollars.
The opinions and views expressed herein, as well as references to individual companies or securities, are not intended to be relied upon as a prediction or forecast of actual future events or performance, or a guarantee of future results, or recommendations to buy, hold or sell, or investment advice.
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