U.S. Growth: Exports and consumers to the rescue

U.S. Growth: Exports and consumers to the rescue

The U.S. economy grew 4.1% in Q2, supported by consumer spending and exports; growth and moderate inflation in the Eurozone continued to make progress; Brexit hit yet another roadblock as the deadline loomed larger.

“We’ve got a template for a good relationship”
U.K. Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, describing the now-rejected proposal to the European Union

U.S. growth: Exports and consumers to the rescue The U.S. economy grew strongly in the second quarter at an estimated 4.1% annual rate (inflation-adjusted), according to the “advance” first estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Though this release relies on incomplete data from other departments, two important trends were clear.  First, the main drivers of growth in Q2 were consumer spending (core spending up 2% from Q1) with a hefty contribution from foreign trade, especially exports. Second, the quarter saw notable investment in inventory – likely due to restocking from unexpectedly strong exports. But for this restocking, the growth number would have been even stronger.

It’s worth noting that the robust growth for the quarter is underpinned by two relatively volatile factors, both of which depend in large part on global trade to fuel growth. Nonetheless, the absolute size of this past quarter’s growth isn’t bad news for observers worried about the current state of the economy.

European growth: Slow and steady Inflation and growth in the Eurozone are steadily improving, according to European Union figures. Growth for Q1 was at a 2.1% annualized rate (the latest figures available) . Inflation has shown real progress after years of struggle, reaching 2% year-over-year for Q2, a figure not seen since early 2012, the heart of the EU’s downward slide into recession.

That’s not to say all is well. Unemployment in France remains at about 9% and wage growth is stubbornly low, perhaps due to recent revisions in restrictive labor laws. Italy’s progress continues to be slow as politics makes coalition-building difficult; Greece is not yet back on its feet from an economic point of view, and the recent horrific fires have taken their toll both in lives and spirit.

But the European Central Bank (ECB) appears to understand the challenges. At its most recent monthly meeting, President Mario Draghi repeated the Monetary Policy Committee’s commitment to keep its strongly stimulative stance in place well into 2019 at the earliest; there appears to be little appetite to repeat the experience of 2010-2012, when the ECB raised rates, thereby provoking an 18-month period of negative growth and political upset.

Brexit: Blues again Prime Minister Theresa May has taken direct control of the UK’s negotiations with the EU, seeking to arrive at a unified, relatively accommodative interpretation of the mandate delivered by the Brexit referendum, in the wake of public bickering and resignations among her ministers.

However, her most recent stance has been rejected outright by EU’s Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier, posing new political pressures and renewing speculation that Prime Minister May’s leadership might not survive the negotiations needed to reach agreement before a rapidly-approaching deadline.


All data: Source: Bloomberg, July 27 2018, unless otherwise specified.



The opinions and views expressed herein 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 investment advice.

Forecasts are inherently limited and should not be relied upon as indicators of actual or future performance.

Important Information


All investments involve risk, including possible loss of principal.

The value of investments and the income from them can go down as well as up and investors may not get back the amounts originally invested, and can be affected by changes in interest rates, in exchange rates, general market conditions, political, social and economic developments and other variable factors. Investment involves risks including but not limited to, possible delays in payments and loss of income or capital. Neither Legg Mason nor any of its affiliates guarantees any rate of return or the return of capital invested. 

Equity securities are subject to price fluctuation and possible loss of principal. Fixed-income securities involve interest rate, credit, inflation and reinvestment risks; and possible loss of principal. As interest rates rise, the value of fixed income securities falls.

International investments are subject to special risks including currency fluctuations, social, economic and political uncertainties, which could increase volatility. These risks are magnified in emerging markets.

Commodities and currencies contain heightened risk that include market, political, regulatory, and natural conditions and may not be suitable for all investors.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  Please note that an investor cannot invest directly in an index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect any fees, expenses or sales charges.

The opinions and views expressed herein are not intended to be relied upon as a prediction or forecast of actual future events or performance, guarantee of future results, recommendations or advice.  Statements made in this material are not intended as buy or sell recommendations of any securities. Forward-looking statements are subject to uncertainties that could cause actual developments and results to differ materially from the expectations expressed. This information has been prepared from sources believed reliable but the accuracy and completeness of the information cannot be guaranteed. Information and opinions expressed by either Legg Mason or its affiliates are current as at the date indicated, are subject to change without notice, and do not take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs of individual investors.

The information in this material is confidential and proprietary and may not be used other than by the intended user. Neither Legg Mason or its affiliates or any of their officer or employee of Legg Mason accepts any liability whatsoever for any loss arising from any use of this material or its contents. This material may not be reproduced, distributed or published without prior written permission from Legg Mason. Distribution of this material may be restricted in certain jurisdictions. Any persons coming into possession of this material should seek advice for details of, and observe such restrictions (if any).

This material may have been prepared by an advisor or entity affiliated with an entity mentioned below through common control and ownership by Legg Mason, Inc.  Unless otherwise noted the “$” (dollar sign) represents U.S. Dollars.

This material is only for distribution in those countries and to those recipients listed.

All investors and eligible counterparties in Europe, the UK, Switzerland:

In Europe (excluding UK and Switzerland), this financial promotion is issued by Legg Mason Investments (Ireland) Limited, registered office 6th Floor, Building Three, Number One Ballsbridge, 126 Pembroke Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, D04 EP27. Registered in Ireland, Company No. 271887. Authorised and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

All Qualified Investors in Switzerland:
In Switzerland, this financial promotion is issued by Legg Mason Investments (Switzerland) GmbH, authorised by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA.  Investors in Switzerland: The representative in Switzerland is FIRST INDEPENDENT FUND SERVICES LTD., Klausstrasse 33, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland and the paying agent in Switzerland is NPB Neue Privat Bank AG, Limmatquai 1, 8024 Zurich, Switzerland. Copies of the Articles of Association, the Prospectus, the Key Investor Information documents and the annual and semi-annual reports of the Company may be obtained free of charge from the representative in Switzerland.

All investors in the UK:
In the UK this financial promotion is issued by Legg Mason Investments (Europe) Limited, registered office 201 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 3AB. Registered in England and Wales, Company No. 1732037. Authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Client Services +44 (0)207 070 7444

All Investors in Hong Kong and Singapore:

This material is provided by Legg Mason Asset Management Hong Kong Limited in Hong Kong and Legg Mason Asset Management Singapore Pte. Limited (Registration Number (UEN): 200007942R) in Singapore.

This material has not been reviewed by any regulatory authority in Hong Kong or Singapore.

All Investors in the People’s Republic of China ("PRC"):

This material is provided by Legg Mason Asset Management Hong Kong Limited to intended recipients in the PRC.  The content of this document is only for Press or the PRC investors investing in the QDII Product offered by PRC’s commercial bank in accordance with the regulation of China Banking Regulatory Commission.  Investors should read the offering document prior to any subscription.  Please seek advice from PRC’s commercial banks and/or other professional advisors, if necessary. Please note that Legg Mason and its affiliates are the Managers of the offshore funds invested by QDII Products only.  Legg Mason and its affiliates are not authorized by any regulatory authority to conduct business or investment activities in China.

This material has not been reviewed by any regulatory authority in the PRC.

Distributors and existing investors in Korea and Distributors in Taiwan:

This material is provided by Legg Mason Asset Management Hong Kong Limited to eligible recipients in Korea and by Legg Mason Investments (Taiwan) Limited (Registration Number: (98) Jin Guan Tou Gu Xin Zi Di 001; Address: Suite E, 55F, Taipei 101 Tower, 7, Xin Yi Road, Section 5, Taipei 110, Taiwan, R.O.C.; Tel: (886) 2-8722 1666) in Taiwan. Legg Mason Investments (Taiwan) Limited operates and manages its business independently.

This material has not been reviewed by any regulatory authority in Korea or Taiwan.

All Investors in the Americas:

This material is provided by Legg Mason Investor Services LLC, a U.S. registered Broker-Dealer, which includes Legg Mason Americas International. Legg Mason Investor Services, LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC, and all entities mentioned are subsidiaries of Legg Mason, Inc.

All Investors in Australia:

This material is issued by Legg Mason Asset Management Australia Limited (ABN 76 004 835 839, AFSL 204827) (“Legg Mason”). The contents are proprietary and confidential and intended solely for the use of Legg Mason and the clients or prospective clients to whom it has been delivered. It is not to be reproduced or distributed to any other person except to the client’s professional advisers.