Chief Economist’s Weekly Brief – Step by step

A week with cause for cautious optimism. The report card on various countries reopening show no upturn in cases in Western Europe. While a better than expected US jobs report and recovering PMIs in China provide some encouragement. But the damage wrought is extensive. It will be a long, arduous journey through recovery with the risk of setbacks along the way considerable. The rising number of cases in the southern US a prime example.

Continue reading

Chief Economist’s Weekly Brief – Bottoming out?

Last week, several economies reopened without a material evidence of a spike in infection rates, well, so far.  That said, the northern-southern hemisphere divide in the number of cases continues to widen, leading some (incl. the Fed) to believe that there might be a second wave. Two risks resurfaced – escalation of US-China trade tensions and disruptive Brexit. On the activity front, data for May suggests that the worst might be behind us.

Continue reading

Chief Economist’s Weekly Brief – More of the same

The easing of lockdown restrictions, and with it the economic recovery, looks set to be taken tentative step by tentative step. Witness South Korea having to reintroduce some distancing measures. Meanwhile data is putting more colour on the enormous scale of the economic damage. No surprise that the Bank of England is envisaging the worst downturn since 1706. Even worse than the “Great Frost” of 1709.

Continue reading

Chief Economist’s Weekly Brief – Dichotomy

April has been a month of contrasts. Multi-year low prints on economic activity in both the US and the Euro area, with worse to come, on the one hand. While equity markets continued to push higher from their late-march lows, buoyed by unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus. Markets will always run ahead of the economy. The question is, with so much uncertainty on the pace of recovery, have they overdone it? 

Continue reading

Chief Economist’s Weekly Brief – Catching

Parallels are being drawn between the coronavirus and the SARS outbreak in 2003. But the contours of the world economy have shifted over the past 17 years. China is 17% of global GDP. It was a mere 4% back then. So shuttered business, foregone spending and leisure trips, not to mention the supply-chain disruptions matter much more for the global economy. 

Continue reading

Chief Economist’s Weekly Brief – UK plc in the red

Will it?  Won’t it?  On Friday we learned that, after delivering a strong first quarter performance, UK GDP contracted by 0.2% in the three months to June.  This marks the first outright decline in economic activity since 2012 and puts the UK uncomfortably close to ‘technical recession’ territory just as global growth is faltering.

Continue reading

Chief Economist’s Weekly Brief – BoE bucks the trend

The BoE’s latest Inflation Report downgraded its growth forecasts but continues to predict “gradual” UK rate hikes assuming a smooth Brexit. In contrast, the Federal Reserve lowered the funds rate 0.25% to 2.25%, its first reduction since 2008. US president Trump’s announcement of a 10% tariff increase on the remaining $300bn of Chinese imports and China’s retaliation adds to global trade concerns, increasing the pressure for further Fed moves soon.

bank-note-941246_1920.jpg Continue reading