Our real narrow money index continues to decline and is sending an increasingly bearish cyclical signal for the global economy and commodity prices. Our real narrow money index has now declined for 4 months running and is now tracking below 7% for the first time since October 2010.
One of the simplest ways to measure macroeconomic risk is to look at the twin deficit, defined as the sum of current account and budget deficit as a percentage of GDP. Recent blow-ups like Iceland and Greece both scored highest on these fronts. Looking at twin deficits gives a reliable indicator of the individual risk profile for a country in the context of a sudden spike in international funding costs or deleveraging. On the latest reading, New Zealand and Turkey stand out (apart from the usual suspects, ie eurozone periphery and South Africa), with twin deficits well in excess of 10% for both economies.
One of the world’s biggest commodity producers, BHP Billiton, recently got a lot of attention by suggesting that the so far insatiable Chinese demand for commodities may have come to an end. The argument is simple enough: the rate of growth in China is slowing. However, the implications for commodity exporters, such as Australia, who have invested dizzying sums of money in expanding capacity to reflect an ever higher increase in Chinese commodity hunger, may be very big indeed.