Small business confidence in the US has improved from the depth of the crisis in 2008/09, but has moved sideways in the past 12 months. A return of confidence to pre-crisis levels has been identified by many as one of the key missing components of the recovery to date. We are getting closer, but it seems that investors need to wait a bit longer.
Many emerging markets were in recession last year and are only slowly emerging. Tight financial conditions and flat to inverted yield curves will make the recovery slow and fraught with risks. Global growth will be lower as a result.
The composite eurozone January flash PMI showed accelerating expansion led by Germany, but the PMI readings are still only showing moderate growth, considerably below the momentum achieved, for example, in the 2009/2010 green-shoots revival. What growth we do see will be low in comparison with earlier times and if real money growth continues to lose momentum, we might even see renewed weakness.
The debate on EM economies (and equities) is heating up. Initially this week, we had the financial world equivalent of the pillory with the widely reported closing of a high profile US hedge fund’s EM fund due to heavy losses in 2013. Solemn nodding followed by EM naysayers suggesting that this is truly a sign of the death-knell of EM as an asset class. The stakes are being raised elsewhere too with the media pitting seasoned investment professionals on both sides of the fence in recent weeks.
The AUD has been under strong pressure in the past 12-18 months. A slowing Chinese economy, an unwinding housing and mining boom and a dovish RBA have all been contributing factors. Many of these reasons are still valid reasons to be fundamentally negative on Australia, but as we have pointed out since the beginning of the year the AUD was due a tactical rebound.
Emerging markets are being blamed on just about all hiccups and bad surprises currently befalling the global economy and financial markets. However, this is slightly unwarranted and, in any case, not consistent with the evidence. Out of the 9 equity markets up on the month, Indonesia, Hungary, Peru, the Philippines and the Czech Republic are among them.
UK inflation last week came back to the BoE’s target for the first time since 2009. This should most certainly be a boon for consumers whose average real incomes have been negative for several years. However, our UK Future Inflation…
Investors welcomed the vow made last year by the new Chinese government to reform the economy through a clamp-down on shadow banking and excess liquidity as well as to commit to a strategy of re-balancing the economy. Still, it seems difficult for China to break out of its old ways. Data released this week consequently shows FX reserve growth in China surging towards the end of last year.
In October we wrote a report highlighting the bubble in Canadian housing and told clients that the currency in particular was under threat. A large current account deficit and the creeping expectations that the BoC might actually be forced into lowering rates have been key factors for a weaker currency.
The last seven months have seen an impressive improvement in US manufacturing. Almost all components of US manufacturing have been growing strongly and the US ISM has staged an impressive comeback from sub-50 in May last year to 57 in December. However, our growth diffusion index now implies the potential for short-term disappointment.