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Fed Fears Slow Economic Recovery From Natural Disasters

Fed Fears Slow Economic Recovery From Natural Disasters
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Thursday, 19 October 2017 07:10 AM Current | Bio | Archive

In Spain, after the Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said the regional parliament could vote on a formal declaration of independence from Spain if the central government failed to agree to talks, Spain’s Prime Minister’s Office called a special cabinet meeting, which decided that Spain’s government will trigger on Saturday the Article 155 of the Spanish constitution, which allows to suspend Catalonia’s political autonomy.

For investors, it might be helpful to keep an eye on the developments notwithstanding the question of Catalonian separatism has not had a hugely disrupted impact on the economy to date.

However, the threat, however remote, of a breakup of the European Monetary Union has led to anecdotal evidence of people moving money out of Catalonia based bank accounts. The costs of such moves at present is minimal, but never forget, the risks having been caught on the wrong side of a fragmenting monetary union are considerable.

In the U.S., yesterday we got the Beige Book of anecdotal evidence from the Federal Reserve that at the beginning reads: “Reports from all 12 Federal Reserve Districts indicated that economic activity increased in September through early October, with the pace of growth split between modest and moderate.”

The Beige Book also suggests that the recovery from the recent natural disasters may be slowed as tightness in the labor markets limits the speed of the response.

Specific tightness in the construction sector has a bearing here of course, and the lack of construction workers of which most have to be skilled workers may also render near term consequences from any infrastructure spending to be more inflationary than growth positive, which is a risk that investors could better keep in mind.

Overall, the tightness of the labor market is reported to be increasing none-wage labor costs, but there are signals that firms are more inclined to squeeze profit margins instead of passing them through to their clients.

Besides that, in China we have the very important twice-a-decade Communist Party Congress in Beijing.

The data about China’s economy show that the economy grew above the official expectation at 6.8 percent year-over-year during Q3

It is of course not a surprise at all that China’s economy beat the official expectations of 6.5 percent and that the announcement that it beat the official expectation came in the very week of the Communist Party Congress in Beijing that was opened yesterday.

By the way, it is expected that President Chi Lingping will be mede supreme leader of everything forever during the congress.

The GDP growth reality is that China is probably growing somewhere above 6 percent and that the growth this year has been brought about a very careful management of debt.

While the speeches yesterday and the subsequent revelation of the composition of the party hierarchy are important, it is the economic conference that will be held at the end of November that is likely to outline the key policies and that investors should care about.

The issue for China now is to slow its credit growth to insure stabilization of the debt-to-GDP ratio that will entail a slowdown of overall economic growth, but without a stabilization of the debt-to-GDP ratio, China runs the risk of becoming dependent on foreign money in a few years, and that’s not something the party wishes to happen.

Investors could do well keeping in mind that the challenge for China is that the model of growth of the last 20 years, which has brought China to middle-income status, is not going to work in the next 20 years.

China retail sales continued to grow at 10.3 percent, which is clearly faster than the GDP growth at 6.8 percent indicating a rebalancing of the economy towards consumer spending. Having a rising consumer share of GDP is a convenient way of dealing with slower trend growth without creating social disquiet.

In Europe we have also a two-day European summit that starts today, which promises about as much surprises as the Chinese communist party congress. European leaders are congregating in Brussels this evening. Everyone is keen to hear the views of German Chancellor Merkel and to see what new policy proposals are coming from the French President Macron’s little red book of the EU reforms. No one will want to be seen talking with the UK Prime Minister May who continues to occupy an island off the mainland and who claims some sort of independence.

There is limited expectation for any kind of progress in the Brexit saga.

Etienne "Hans" Parisis is a bank economist who has advised investors on financial markets and international investments.

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Fed Fears Slow Economic Recovery From Natural Disasters
fed, recovery, natural, disasters
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2017-10-19
Thursday, 19 October 2017 07:10 AM
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