In Japan, we saw first quarter GDP
y/y revised up to 1.9 percent. The deflator remained unchanged at 0.9 percent.
The deflator tells us little about the Japanese consumers’ inflation experience because it measures prices in capital goods and prices in exports as well. Consumers are convinced that inflation in Japan is soaring at over 4 percent a year at the moment.
We got at first sight positive news coming from bank-lending growth
that at 2.2 percent is rising faster than GDP growth at 1.9 percent.
However, one of the problems with bank-lending growth is the degree of uncertainty of how much of that lending is going to finance domestic economic activity versus how much of the lending is going to finance economic activity outside of Japan.
Meanwhile, China has given some cheer to the world by having its imports in May fall by 6.0 percent, which was less than expected and better than the prior -10.9 percent y/y. Exports fell by 4.1 percent y/y as expected, but worse than the prior -1.8 percent, when measured in dollar terms. Both imports and exports rose in renminbi/yuan terms.
Of course, one month of trade statistics tells us little about the world.
The reaction of financial markets tells us much about the sentiment of investors at the moment.
When figures like these can provoke equity-market moves, it is a little troubling.
For the most part, we should expect China’s growth to be relatively domestic. Service sector focused spending by consumers has little impact beyond China’s borders.
About the UK EU referendum, which is a serious risk factor to markets, there is the level of voter turnout that has generated a lot of comment as of lately. There has been a record level of the number of young people registering to vote in the past couple of months.
The deadline for voter registration online was midnight last night and, predictably, the system broke down. There are now arguments being heard about extending the deadline, which would have, potentially, further implications for the turnout.
There is also, perhaps, a question about the wisdom of delaying such an important decision as registering the vote until literally 5 minutes to midnight.
One of the concerns with the referendum is that regardless of the result there is likely to be an impact within the EU. The fact that the UK, which is the world’s fifth largest economy is contemplating a departure, with a particular vigorous debate about the benefits of remaining in the EU, must be considered to have a bearing on the wider project.
The regular PEW survey of attitudes towards the EU
, published overnight, shows there has been a significant decline in support for the EU across Europe.
In France for example, at present only 38 percent of the population has a favorable view of the EU
Long-term investors who have euro related investments, it could be wise keeping in mind that France will have its 2017 presidential election on April 23 and May 7.
Were the UK to vote to remain in the EU, it will alter the fact that the EU project itself has been changed just by having the debate.
Finally, the World Bank
has just cut its 2016 global growth forecast to 2.4 percent from the 2.9 percent it estimated in January
The report states that in a weak growth environment, the global economy is facing increasingly pronounced downside risks.
These risks are associated with:
- Deteriorating conditions among key commodity exporters
- Disappointing activity in advanced economies
- Rising private sector debt in large emerging markets
- Heightened policy and geopolitical uncertainties.
Other major downside risks over the medium term include:
- Increased protectionism
- Slower catch-up of large emerging markets toward advanced economy income levels
For the long-term investor, the World Bank report is not good news at all and that reminds everybody that responsible investing will become even more complicated and difficult than it already is in the foreseeable future, which, please take care, could easily extend into a couple of years.
That’s the crude reality we’ll all have to live with.
Etienne "Hans" Parisis
is a bank economist who has advised global billionaires and governments on the financial markets and international investments. To read more of his articles, GO HERE NOW.
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