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    17 May 2019
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    Import tariffs have a negative impact on the targeted country. Retaliation will in turn have negative consequences for the country which started the tariff hikes. Even in the absence of retaliation, there will be negative consequences. Household spending will suffer from a loss of spending power due to an increase in inflation following higher import prices and/or a switch to domestically produced goods. For the same reason, aggregate corporate profits may suffer. Companies may also cut back their investment because of increased uncertainty. Empirical research confirms these outcomes.
    Over the past few months, the news flow for the German economy has definitely improved. Manufacturing output strengthened for the second consecutive month, although remaining well below last year’s level. Also industrial orders rose slightly, although falling short of market expectations. Even though consumer confidence slightly weakened April, it remained at a very high level.
    10 May 2019
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    In the European Union, CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion declined 2.5% in 2018 compared to the year before. Considering that GDP grew, this implies a reduction in carbon intensity, thereby continuing a long-term trend. The developments in individual countries  vary and quite a number of countries have seen an increase in emissions. Likewise, the differences are considerable concerning the emissions per capita depending on the level of economic development, although this is just one factor amongst many which influence the emission intensity.
    Most leading economic indicators are in line, or even above, expectations. Activity in the manufacturing sector remains subdued, the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) reaching only 47.9 in April. This poor performance is partially offset by the resilience of the PMI Services Index which is below its long-term average but still well above the 50 threshold (52.8 in April).
    03 May 2019
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    According to Jerome Powell, the fundamentals supporting the US economy remain solid. First quarter growth has been robust but underlying concerns about the quality of growth have emerged. Growth has benefitted from a drop in imports and rising inventory levels while residential investment acted as a drag. In the coming months, imports should rebound and inventories should witness a scale back. The onus will fall on consumer spending and corporate investment to neutralise the effects of these anticipated headwinds on growth.
    According to the first INSEE’s estimate, real GDP growth remained stable at 0.3% q/q in Q1 2019. This figure is in line with our expectations but it paints a mixed picture, an even more mixed one than during the two previous quarters.
    26 April 2019
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    The relationships between government debt, economic growth and interest rates are complex and varied. In general, a recession causes an increase in government debt and a decline in government borrowing costs. A prolonged period of monetary accommodation during a cyclical upswing can cause the average nominal interest rate on government debt to drop below the rate of nominal GDP growth. Depending on the level of the primary balance, such a situation can, under certain conditions, create leeway for fiscal expansion in order to support growth.
    The first quarter turned out to be strong after all. The just released first estimate for first quarter GDP showed an annualised quarter over quarter increase of 3.2%, ahead of the consensus number of +2.3% and better than the previous quarter (+2.2%). Data released earlier this month had suggested that March looked good though not great.
    19 April 2019
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    The pass-through of wage growth to prices is stronger and faster when inflation is higher to start with. The low inflation in the Eurozone has slowed down the transmission. The considerable growth slowdown, on the back of adverse foreign demand and uncertainty shocks, impairs this process even more. This raises pressure on the ECB to take action in order to dislodge core inflation, which remains stuck well below its objective
    The different uncertainty measures are sending mixed signals. The Economic Policy Uncertainty Index, which is based on media coverage about policy uncertainty, is no longer increasing but a downward trend has not yet started.
    12 April 2019
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    President Trump has argued that the US economy would get a boost if the Federal Reserve were to cut rates. The minutes of the FOMC show the members are confident about the growth outlook. The outlook for inflation, against a background of global uncertainties, allows them to be patient in terms of policy. The IMF in its latest Global Financial Stability Report expresses concern about how high debt levels weigh on the resilience when faced with significantly slower growth or higher borrowing costs. This implies that Fed policy will not only be confidently patient but also patiently vigilant.
    After contracting in January, the credit impulse picked up very slightly in February 2019. This trend is due almost exclusively to lending to non-financial companies, whereas the credit impulse has remained relatively flat for households since November 2018. Demand is expected to increase in second-quarter 2019 for all loan categories, stimulated by the easing of financing conditions, except for home loans, for which lending conditions are expected to tighten slightly.
    05 April 2019
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    Strong job creation in March in the US has brought relief after the disappointing data the month before. The Chinese manufacturing indices have rebounded and crossed the 50 level. In the eurozone, the pressure on the manufacturing sector continues but the services PMI has improved. Retail sales have beaten expectations. For the manufacturing sector, a lot will depend on how uncertainty evolves. In this respect there are hopeful signs. The likelihood that an agreement will be reached between the US and China has increased whereas in the UK, cross-party negotiations seek to avoid a hard Brexit.
    The German economic sky seems brightening up as the Pulse indicators are moving towards the northwest quadrant of the chart. However, for the moment, the improvement is largely located outside the country’s large manufacturing sector.
    29 March 2019
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    After last week’s poor flash PMIs, data published this week show a mixed picture. The European Commission’s Economic Sentiment Index continues to decline in a large number of countries and for the eurozone as a whole as well. IFO data for Germany show an improvement in the overall climate though manufacturing continues to go down. INSEE data for France show a stabilisation or even some modest improvement. All in all there are some hopeful signs but it would be premature to conclude that the growth slowdown is about to end. April data will be particularly important.
    In South Korea, real GDP growth reached 3.1% in Q4 18, driven by the set of supportive measures implemented by the government. Real GDP growth should slow in the first quarter of 2019.
    22 March 2019
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    The growth projections of the FOMC members have been revised downwards and the unemployment projection has seen an upward revision. The projections for the federal funds rate (the “dots”) have dropped 50 basis points. The Fed chairman considers the outlook to remain favourable, adding that it is a great time to be patient. Markets are less upbeat. They interpret patience as an underlying concern about downside risks and price a rate cut in the course of next year. We expect the policy rate to stay at its current level, this year and next.
    The latest economic data are globally in line with, or even above, expectations. Some indicators remain at a high level compared to their long-term average. The further and significant deterioration in manufacturing activity draws our attention.
    15 March 2019
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    The plethora of data released this week didn’t remove concern about the Chinese growth slowdown. Lunar holiday bias and the recent fiscal stimulus measures imply it is too early to draw firm conclusions. The matter is important for the global economy given China’s weight. It is also important for key exporters to China such as Germany. Against this background, reaching a trade agreement with the US  becomes key.
    The latest economic indicators all surprised favourably (positive z-score on the x-axis), reinforcing the global picture of a slow but resistant French growth and, consequently, our Q1 growth forecast of 0.3% QoQ.
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