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Manufacturing from the US to Asia is very much in a slowdown as factories continue to struggle with supply snarls, labor shortages and elevated materials costs.
A measure of US manufacturing activity weakened in June to a two-year low, and several regional Federal Reserve surveys indicated business activity shrank. Factory purchasing managers’ gauges across Asia eased, with South Korea, Thailand and India among those showing the biggest declines, according to S&P Global.
Similar indexes in Poland, Spain and Italy also showed weaker activity compared to May.
Here are some of the charts that appeared on Bloomberg this week on the latest developments in the global economy:
Consumer spending fell in May for the first time this year and prior months were revised lower, suggesting an economy on somewhat weaker footing than previously thought amid rapid inflation and Fed interest-rate hikes.
Regional Fed manufacturing surveys have taken on a grimmer tone, with four of five indicating business activity shrank in June. Separately, a measure of overall manufacturing slid to a two-year low as new orders contracted, restrained by lingering supply constraints and some softening in demand.
The pandemic housing boom is careening to a halt as the fastest-rising mortgage rates in at least half a century upend affordability for homebuyers, catching many sellers wrong-footed with prices that are too high.
Confidence in the euro-area economy slipped as households become more pessimistic amid fears a Russian energy cutoff will spark a recession. At the same time, they’re less worried about inflation than they were a month ago, though there’s a split between core and peripheral euro-area countries.
After suffering from unprecedented shocks in recent years, the UK is succumbing to more intractable problems marked by plodding growth, surging inflation and a series of damaging strikes.
China’s economy showed some improvement in June as Covid restrictions were gradually eased, although the recovery remains muted. That’s the outlook based on Bloomberg’s aggregate index of eight early indicators for this month. The overall gauge returned to the neutral level after deteriorating for two straight months.
Japan’s factory output shrank at the fastest pace since the height of the pandemic as the lagged impact of China’s virus lockdowns continued to disrupt supply chains and economic activity in the region. The weakness in manufacturing extended across Asia, particularly in South Korea, Thailand, India and Taiwan.
Colombia’s central bank delivered its biggest interest rate increase in over two decades. Policy makers are bracing for another spike in annual inflation that’s already above 9%.
Two years after Argentina emerged from its latest default, a debt crisis in brewing once again. This time, the immediate trouble is in the local bond market, where creditors have become reluctant to roll over maturing government bonds.
Zambia’s inflation rate dropped below 10% for the first time in almost three years in June, bucking a global trend of record consumer-price growth. Optimism over the nation’s economy since the election of Hakainde Hichilema as president in August, a potential debt restructuring and a $1.4 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund has seen a rally in the local currency, which has helped contain prices.
Differences in underlying inflation trends call for different policy outlooks among the world’s top central banks, according to Bloomberg Economics. The Fed will have to go well into restrictive territory, the Bank of England may go a little above neutral and the European Central Bank might not even get that far.
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.
German recession fears deepen as economy is hit by 'perfect storm' – Financial Times
Investors are now more pessimistic about the German economy than they have been at any time since the eurozone debt crisis more than a decade ago, worrying that a sharp fall in Russian natural gas supplies and soaring energy prices will plunge the country into recession.
The ZEW Institute’s gauge of investor expectations about Europe’s largest economy has sunk to its lowest level since 2011, dropping from minus 53.8 to minus 55.3, underlining the deepening gloom about the economic fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The think-tank’s survey of financial market participants provides an early indicator of economic sentiment after Russia reopened the Nord Stream 1 pipeline following a maintenance break last month, but kept the main conduit for delivery of gas to Europe operating at only a fifth of capacity.
Economists have slashed their estimates for growth in Germany and the wider eurozone this year, while raising their inflation forecasts and warning that an end to Russian energy supplies would force Berlin to ration gas supplies for heavy industrial users.
On Tuesday, German baseload power for delivery next year, the benchmark European price, rose over 5 per cent to a record €502 per megawatt hour, according to the European Energy Exchange. This is six times higher than the price a year ago — driven upwards by the sharply higher cost of gas used to generate electricity and the prolonged European heatwave that has disrupted generating capacity.
The surging price of energy has driven up the cost of imports for Germany and other eurozone countries, sending the bloc’s trade deficit up to €24.6bn in June, compared with a surplus of €17.2bn for the same month a year earlier, according to data from Eurostat, the European Commission’s statistics bureau. The value of exports from the bloc rose 20.1 per cent in June from a year ago, but imports were up 43.5 per cent.
“The still high increase in consumer prices and the expected additional costs for heating and electricity are currently having a particularly negative impact on the prospects for the consumer-related sectors of the economy,” said Michael Schröder, a researcher at the ZEW.
He said investor sentiment also worsened due to an expected tightening of financing conditions after the European Central Bank raised its deposit rate by 0.5 percentage points to zero in response to record levels of eurozone inflation.
Carsten Brzeski, head of macro research at Dutch bank ING, said the German economy was “quickly approaching a perfect storm” caused by “high inflation, possible energy supply disruptions, and ongoing supply frictions”.
A heatwave and dry spell has reduced water levels on the Rhine below the level at which barges can be loaded fully, restricting important supplies for factories, which Brzeski estimated was likely to knock as much as 0.5 percentage points off German growth this year.
Adding to the gloom, German households will have to pay hundreds of euros more in fuel bills this winter after the government unveiled an extra gas levy of 2.419 cents per KWH from October. This is expected to push up the cost for a family of four by €240 in the final three months of the year.
Germany’s top network regulator told the Financial Times this month that the country must cut its gas use by a fifth to avoid a crippling shortage this winter. The economy ministry has also ordered all companies and local authorities to reduce the minimum room temperature in their workspaces to 19C over the winter.
The country has achieved its target of filling gas storage facilities to three-quarters of capacity two weeks ahead of schedule, after high prices and fuel saving measures led to reduced use. But there are worries its objective to lift gas storage to a 95 per cent target of capacity by November will be more challenging if Russia keeps throttling supplies.
The German economy stagnated in the second quarter, the weakest performance of the major eurozone countries. Last month, the IMF slashed its forecast for German growth next year by 1.9 percentage points to 0.8 per cent, the biggest downgrade of any country.
Additional reporting by Harry Dempsey
Why China's economy is slowing down – Axios
China is slowing fast, and the government is taking only modest steps to try to keep the earth’s second-largest economy from outright contraction.
Why it matters: While it lags behind the U.S. in size, China’s economy has been the largest source of growth for global GDP for much of the last two-plus decades — meaning it’s a global engine of corporate profitability, investment activity, and demand for commodities.
Driving the news: A raft of disappointing economic updates this week showed Chinese growth still sputtering on multiple fronts.
- Its industrial sector slowed again. Industrial production rose just 3.8% in July compared to the previous year — and well short of expectations for 4.5%.
- The crisis in China’s housing sector continues to hurt. Fixed investment — of which housing is an important component — was up just 5.7% in the first seven months of the year, compared to the same period in 2021. (In 2021, that figure was 10.3% higher year over year as of July.)
- Consumers aren’t picking up the slack either. Retail sales in July were up a scant 2.7% year over year, far short of the 5% expectation.
Context: In the recent past, when faced with a slowdown, Chinese policymakers quickly turned to tried-and-true tools to attempt to give growth a kick in the pants. They included…
- Pouring money into public infrastructure investment.
- Engineering a borrowing boom to fuel domestic spending.
- Delivering sharp interest rate cuts.
The intrigue: Despite China’s current economic blahs, there’s little indication that the government is decisively trying to prop growth up.
- In past slowdowns, China’s broadest measure of all types of credit to the economy — known as “total social financing” — has surged, a sign the government was keen to boost debt to offset slumps.
- A report on Friday showed total social financing far lower than expected, as the government seems disinclined to use a debt-driven boom as a source of growth.
Yes, but: The People’s Bank of China did cut interest rates by a tiny one-tenth of a percentage point on Monday — a move most analysts think is modest, and unlikely to reinvigorate economic activity.
The bottom line: The ruling Chinese Communist Party knows that the breakneck pace of Chinese economic growth that prevailed in past decades is unlikely to be matched. But unlike in past decades, they don’t seem particularly worried about it.
- For the rest of the world, that may mean China will be less of a reliable engine of growth in the coming years.
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