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Toby Corballis's connections' blogs

Economic Calendar - Week Starting 4 October 2010

October 3, 2010 by Econ Grapher   Comments (0)

Here's the Economic Calendar for the week commencing the 4th of October 2010. This week the main events are in the monetary policy and employment space. Firs up there's Japan with its monthly monetary policy meeting, then the RBA in Australia is expected to re-commence tightening, then the ECB and Bank of England meet on Thursday. On the employment front there's data from Australia, Canada, and the US with the much watched non-farm payrolls report. Also this week, the IMF will release its World Economic Outlook forecasts and commentary on Wednesday, shortly before the IMF annual meetings kick off in the coming weekend.


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Top 5 Economics Graphs of the Week - 2 October 2010

October 2, 2010 by Econ Grapher   Comments (0)

This week we review the apparent rebound in the Chinese manufacturing sector, followed by a look at the quarterly Tankan survey results from Japan. Then we look at the US PMI results which show grim signs; as do the housing and confidence figures. Finally we wrap up with a look at some other statistics from Japan in this top 3 economies of the world version of the top 5 graphs of the week.

1. China PMI: Continued Rebound
China saw a continued rebound in its manufacturing sector, as indicated by the PMI results which had the official index rising to 53.8 from 51.7 in August, and the HSBC index also rising from 51.9 to 52.9. The rebound in the main index is a promising sign, indeed the new orders index rose to 56.3 from 53.1 while the export-order index rose only to 52.8 from 52.2. Also of note in the data was the rise in the input price index component, which rose to 65.3 from 60.5. Seasonal factors aside (it is supposed to be seasonally adjusted), i.e. filling orders for Christmas, the results show an end to the drop in the index, and possibly a new revival as the Chinese economy continues to expand and personal incomes rise.

2. Japan Tankan: Gradual Recovery
Another positive, but somewhat less so, was the Tankan September quarter survey results from Japan. The overall index improved to -10 from -15 in the 2nd quarter this year. Into the detail, the standout was medium-sized manufacturers, who saw a 10 point rise from -6 to positive 4, similarly, large manufacturers solidified their recovery, adding 7 points to positive 8. So in that negatives were getting less negative, and prospects were improving for the 3rd quarter, it was a good result. However the December 2010 forecast figures were much less optimistic, with most firms expecting a reasonably deterioration in conditions. So the story is basically, small improvement, outlook not great.

3. US PMI: Grim Signs
The US also released its PMI results this week, showing what appears to be a continued turn in prospects. If you recall, there was a time when people were asking "what will happen when the inventory cycle and stimulus runs out?" and here's your answer, not a whole lot really for the US. The PMI index fell from 56.3 to 54.4 with the only real strength coming from an increase in the prices sub-index from 61.5 to 70.5, a significant increase - stagflation anyone? All the other indexes that you usually want to see rise didn't, so not a great result from the US.

4. US Housing and Confidence
Staying with the US, and thinking about gloomy economic prospects, there's the US housing market and consumer confidence data details that came out this week. The US housing market continued to flat-line (no surprises there), and will likely do so for an extended period. Meanwhile the US consumer also basically flat-lined, if not deteriorated a little. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence index came out much worse than expected at 48.5 vs 53.5 in August, the present situation index decreased to 23.1 from 24.9 and the expectations index fell to 65.4 from 72 in August. So overall, while it's still not panic time, things are just not good, and they will continue to muddle along because of the damage caused by the excesses everyone got into that caused the financial crisis.

5. Japan Inflation and Unemployment
Back to Japan, there was some slight improvements in the inflation and employment situation with the unemployment rate dipping to 5.1% from 5.2%, and the deflation rate improving slightly to -1.0% from -1.1% in July. So onward with the gradual export driven recovery in Japan - "Yentervention" or not. So it seems that some progress might be getting through from the Bank of Japan in its desperate struggle to stem deflation and stimulate the economy, but there are still serious challenges for the Japanese economy, at least it has China as its neighbor and trade partner, otherwise, muddle along too.


This week we looked at the 3 largest economies as they release indicators on the prospects of their manufacturing and business sectors. China showed pretty good results all round, Japan showed slight improvement, and the US did not impress with its PMI results. The story of continued economic growth (catch up) and expansion in China remains intact, and the story of a long hard slog in the US and Japan also remains intact.

Japan and the US are the real spots to watch as the global recovery unfolds, though emerging markets are coming up fast and strong, it is these two pillars of stability that will drive or fail to drive much of the growth in the near term. Unfortunately things are still subdued in the US as it goes through the muddle ages of the recovery, and even Japan is showing potential warning signs of a double-dip.

Go emerging markets, hang in there developed markets...

1. CFLP & Markit/HSBC & Yahoo Finance
2. Bank of Japan
3. Institute for Supply Management
4. Standard & Poors & Conference Board
5. Trading Economics

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Economic Calendar - 26 September 2010

September 25, 2010 by Econ Grapher   Comments (0)

Here's the Economic Calendar for the week commencing the 26th of September 2010. This week there's additional GDP iterations due out from the US and UK, and of course given September ends this week (damn this year is going fast!) there will be the PMI stats out, with China and the US being the key ones to watch in that space. Japan also takes to the stage a few times this week with trade data, the quarterly Tankan survey, retail trade, industrial production, employment, and CPI data all due out this week. Of course the other key data in the US to watch will be the Case-Shiller house price index, and both the Conference Board and University of Michigan consumer confidence stats.


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Top 5 Economics Graphs of the Week - 18 September 2010

September 18, 2010 by Econ Grapher   Comments (0)

This week we look at some of the monetary policy decisions that were announced, then review the consumer spending stats in the US before checking in on inflation in the US as well as the UK. We wrap-up with a snapshot of the commodities market.

1. Monetary Policy Review
This week there were a few interest rate decisions out; the Reserve Bank of New Zealand held rates steady at 3.00% citing global growth as well as the earthquake impact. The Reserve Bank of India increased rates again; lifting the repo rate +25bps to 6.00% (and the reverse repo rate +50bps to 5.00%) as inflation concerns continued. The Swiss National Bank left the 3-month libor target rate unchanged at 0.25%, judging current levels to be appropriate. The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey held its 1-week repo rate at 7.00% but cut the overnight borrowing rate -25bps to 6.25%. There was also the Bank of Japan of course, which intervened in the currency markets this week for the first time in 4 years, as the strong yen started to put pressure on the Japanese economy. So basically same story here as usually mentioned - a very de-synchronized approach to monetary policy across the globe at the moment as we carry on through the uneven recovery.

2. US Retail Sales
US retail sales beat expectations in August, rising 0.4% month on month vs consensus 0.3%, and more or less flat vs July's growth rate. Core retail sales grew 0.6% vs expected 0.4%, and previous 0.2%. The strong sectors were gasoline station sales, food & beverages, and clothing; while the weak sectors were health & personal care, sporting goods & hobby stores, general merchandise, and nonstore retailers. So the numbers are relatively positive - at this stage of the recovery a small positive or even just a plain positive is a win; but retail sales are still tracking well below trend.

3. US Inflation
US CPI came in flat year on year again, with headline inflation rising 1.2% year on year vs 1.3% in July, and core rising 1.0% - the same as July and June. Basically nothing to see here right now, this is the quiet part on the inflation front; the only real price pressure is coming from energy and food prices, but there is currently a baseline of demand that will probably stop the situation from falling into deflation. If any where the outlook is probably for a few more months of flatness, with a gradual increase.

4. UK Inflation
UK inflation rose 3.1% in August, placing it above the Bank of England's target 2.0% for the 8th consecutive month. The situation in the UK is a little different from the US one, there are a few one-offs in the CPI results still, but the outlook is for relatively persistent inflation around 3%. The Bank of England quarterly inflation outlook poll showed UK consumers expect prices to increase by 3.4% over the next 12 months, up from 3.3% in the May results, and the highest since August 2008. So the UK situation isn't terrific; relatively high inflation with relatively stagnant growth.

5. Commodities
Since we looked at some CPI stats in this edition, it would be rude not to look at where commodities are tracking. If there is any reason for inflation to be underpinned at least, this is it. The dichotomy of economic growth rates in the global economy between dynamic emerging markets and mature developed markets is having an interesting effect. China and other emerging markets still has a strong appetite for commodities as it invests in infrastructure, and continues manufacturing - for exports as well as meeting the growing domestic demand. This will ultimately be good for the global economy, but it will also drag up inflation rates around the world as commodity input prices feed their way through the value chain.


So we looked at some of the monetary policy decisions last week and saw what will be characteristic of the global economic recovery as it plays out over the next couple of years, i.e. de-synchronised monetary policy, as a result of an uneven recovery and resulting political pressures. We then looked briefly at retail sales in the US and saw that people are still spending, and reviewed inflation results from the US and UK and noted that although inflation is currently flat-lining in these developed economies, the outlook will be for at least a gradual increase. Indeed if you think about the dynamics in play in the commodities markets, the possibility of the strong emerging markets dragging up not only global growth, but global inflation starts to get interesting...

1. Reserve Bank of New Zealand & Reserve Bank of India & Swiss National Bank & Central bank of the Republic of Turkey
2. US Census Bureau
3. US Bureau of Labor Statistics
4. Trading Economics
5. Thomson Reuters/Jefferies

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RBNZ Holds OCR at 3.00%, Notes Earthquake Impact

September 16, 2010 by Econ Grapher   Comments (0)

The RBNZ (Reserve Bank of New Zealand) left the OCR (Official Cash Rate) unchanged at 3.00%, leaving banks' core overnight funding costs unchanged. The decision was expected by most, with most economists in New Zealand expecting the next move not to come until as late as December this year.

The RBNZ also released its detailed economic analysis report; the Monetary Policy Statement, where it outlined its views on the New Zealand economy and rationale for the decision. The Bank noted that (as with the expectations of those in the market) further tightening of monetary policy is likely to be more drawn out:

“Over time, it is likely that further removal of monetary policy support will be required. The pace and extent of further OCR increases is likely to be more moderate than was projected in the June Statement.”

The New Zealand Economy
In its assessment of the New Zealand economy the RBNZ noted the likely impact of the Christchurch earthquake (see below for more details), but it also honed in on the slowing of the pace of the global economic recovery; in particular in the US. But pointed out that New Zealand's key trading partners; China and Australia are both growing strong and will likely support demand for exports.

However the RBNZ did note the decline in the outlook for the household sector as deleveraging runs its course; thus resulting in a relatively subdued housing market and lackluster consumer spending. On the inflation front, unsurprisingly the RBNZ did not see significant underlying inflationary pressure, but did note the likelihood of a spike in short-term inflation.

“Overall, despite the weakened outlook, we still expect that growth will progressively absorb current surplus capacity over the next few years. In addition, changes to indirect taxes and earthquake impacts will cause headline inflation to spike higher over the coming year. Previous experience of GST increases, the fact that annual CPI inflation has been near 2 percent for the past year and a half, and the subdued state of domestic demand suggest this inflation spike will have little impact on medium-term inflation expectations."

Earthquake Impact
The RBNZ noted the potential economic impact of the 4th of September earthquake (7.1 magnitude). The earthquake significantly damaged buildings and infrastructure, and thus will have a short term negative impact on the economy; but over the medium term it is expected that there will be a net benefit to the economy with insurance payouts and reconstruction stimulating the faltering building and construction sector.

“The earthquake that struck Canterbury on 4 September has significantly disrupted economic activity and is likely to continue to do so for some time yet. Many homes and businesses have been damaged, as have significant parts of Canterbury’s public infrastructure. Eventual reconstruction and repairs will require considerable resources over the next year or two, particularly in the construction sector. If, in the aftermath of the earthquake, the prices of some goods and services increase temporarily, monetary policy would remain focused on the medium-term trend in inflation. The Policy Targets Agreement explicitly instructs the Bank to look through temporary price increases generated by a natural disaster."

Overall the RBNZ confirmed my previous suspicion that tightening would be on the go-slow for the rest of the year with perhaps only one more 25bp increase. As far as the New Zealand economy is concerned, the recovery is still relatively well entrenched, but GDP growth is likely to come in slower in the second half of 2010. There may well be a few quarters of slower growth, but 2011 promises to bring stronger growth as the economy rebounds driven by exports, earthquake rebuilding in Canterbury, and the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Econ Grapher Analytics
Reserve Bank of New Zealand
Statistics New Zealand

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Japan Update - The Yentervention

September 15, 2010 by Econ Grapher   Comments (0)

The Bank of Japan today intervened in the forex market, selling Yen (JPY) as the exchange rate entered the psychologically important 82 yen zone. After the intervention the USD strengthened against the JPY, with the USD/JPY rate rising to about 85.50. The move follows repeated threats by the Bank of Japan to take "decisive steps" if necessary. Japan's Finance Minister, Yoshihiko Noda, noted that the impact of the rising Yen on the economy could no longer be ignored - he also noted that Japan had acted alone in the move. So what does this mean? and what does it signal?

In the short term it probably means more volatility in the JPY, and possibly a continuation of the artificially induced pullback. As Japan is very much a trade driven economy, the exchange rate has a material impact on export competitiveness and thus growth in exports (note exports have still not recovered to pre-crisis levels in Japan).

In the medium to longer term though currency intervention often tends to have the effect of blowing air into the wind; currency intervention has its place at the margins and at the extremes, where it can be quite effective - or as a trigger point. But if the fundamentals suggest the exchange rate should be trending in a certain direction then intervention is liable to backfire.

The move also sends some strong signals about the relative levels of desperation felt by the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Japan by extension. It means they are getting nervous about the state of the Japanese economy, and maybe they should be. The deflation problem is still there, so is the debt problem, growth has rebounded - but for how long, trade has rebounded - but the exchange rate issue has played a part; global demand will also come into the mix.

So what's the conclusion? Well for one the "yentervention" probably wont work long term, and probably wont have the intended impact of boosting exports. And on the signaling side, well, Japan may well be going the way of the US and we may start seeing double on the double-dip front!

Econ Grapher Analytics
Global View Forex

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Econ Grapher - China Update - August Data

September 13, 2010 by Econ Grapher   Comments (0)

In this report we look at the rise in inflation in the economy of China, followed by continued monitoring of the rise in consumer spending and domestic demand. Then we review the potential rebound in industrial production; looking also at its links with international trade. Finally we note how along with the trends in trade, how loan growth is playing into the dynamics of the global economy and the Chinese economy.

1. China Inflation
China's inflation rate rose to 3.5%, matching consensus, and up on July's 3.3% increase. The chart below shows the inflation rate rising in line with the sharp increase in the future prices expectation index, which is currently at 70.3, vs just 11.4 a year ago. The increase is as to be expected given fundamentals, and if past experience is a guide then the picture below is for further inflation to come - which will put pressure on the PBOC in setting interest rates.

2. Chinese Consumers - Retail Sales
The Chinese consumer showed further strength in August, with retail sales rising 18.4% year on year, reaching 9.75 billion yuan year to date. The trend is evidently upward, with the peak period close to spring festival yet to come (Chinese new year is in early February 2011). This chart is always an interesting one to monitor as it provides a good proxy for Chinese consumer spending, or the domestic demand component of China's economy. It heralds a shift in wealth, economic dynamics, as well as vast opportunities as per capita incomes rise.

3. China Industrial Production and PMI
Industrial production showed a rebound in August as hinted at by the PMI figures released earlier this month; industrial production grew 13.9% year on year, trumping forecasts for 12.9% and previous 13.4%. The rebound in PMI and industrial production is promising for the economy, but it could yet be too early to pick a halt to the decline; but one thing's for sure, and that's the recent rebound in trade - which could be triggering a second wave of activity.

4. China Trade Surplus
Indeed, China's trade figures showed continued strength in exports with exports growing 34.4% year on year to about $139 billion (July $145.5 billion), and imports growing 35% to $119 billion (July $116.8 billion), leaving a trade surplus of $20 billion (slightly down from $28.7 billion in July). The results show the rolling trade surplus picking up firmly, turning around the downward trend. One promising part of the results was that imports were growing faster year on year vs exports - which points to China's potential to start driving global growth and economic activity. The imports may also point to stronger domestic economy driven demand, as well as inputs for production and re-export.

5. Chinese Banks - New Loans
Finally, China saw a strong expansion in lending in August, with new loans by banks totaling 545.2 billion yuan. Year over year the figure was 134.8 billion stronger than in 2009, and up a strong 18%. The continued expansion of credit shows a contrasting strength in economic prospects as loan growth remains stagnant or even contracts in Europe and the US. But there is the need to remain vigilant about loan quality, and the perennial optimism and insistence of the banks about the triviality of stress tests is not cause for comfort- there is the potential that with such rapid and consistent loan growth that loan quality may have suffered in some cases; so keep an eye on loan impairments and bad debt provisioning.


As a brief summary we saw inflation rise again, but thought about how it could go higher yet. We reviewed the increasingly interesting retail spending data, and its implications for the outlook for domestic demand in the Chinese economy. Then we saw signs of a rebound in industrial production - as heralded by the PMI figures - and thought about how this may link in with the figures we're seeing in international trade. On the topic of international trade we thought about China's role in the global economy as it shows somewhat counter-cyclical growth in credit and lending - in contrast to more developed nations. The overall message is one of relatively strong activity in the Chinese economy, with a reasonably positive outlook - economic growth wise; but there are risks for the economy particularly around the aggressive expansion policies and inflation.

1. National Bureau of Statistics & People's Bank of China
2. National Bureau of Statistics
3. National Bureau of Statistics & CFLP & Markit/HSBC
4. China Customs
5. People's Bank of China

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Top 5 Economics Graphs of the Week - 4 Sep 2010

September 4, 2010 by Econ Grapher   Comments (0)

This week we look at some particularly strong second quarter GDP numbers out from emerging markets Brazil and India, as well as one lucky developed market, Australia. Then we review the PMI results from the two biggest economies; China and the US.

1. Brazil GDP
The Brazilian economy saw further signs of strength in Q2, reporting 8.8% growth year on year, compared to estimates of 7.9% and a similarly strong 9% in Q1. But with unemployment at record lows, there have been increasing concerns about overheating; especially going into next year. The Banco Central do Brasil has already increased the selic rate a few times this year to 10.75% as well as raising the required reserve ratios. The government expects the economy to grow at least 7% this year. Asset bubbles and overheating aside; it's clear where the growth is coming from in the recovery from the post GFC recession.

2. India GDP
Another one of the BRIC economies to report on Q2 GDP this week was India, who also reported 8.8% growth year on year; compared to 8.6% in Q1. In spite of concerns about data integrity around a revision of the demand component to 10% from 3.7% (with no change in the headline 8.8% figure). The strong points were manufacturing (up 12.4%), services (up 9.7%) and construction (up 8.9%). In terms of the outlook, the monsoon season has been relatively normal so far (a key determinant of output from the agricultural sector - and of course food prices), there may also be potential benefits from helping Pakistan rebuild after the floods. But as with Brazil, with great growth comes the potential for great inflation; and the RBI has already lifted rates and reserve ratios this year.

3. Australia GDP
Australia saw further strength in its economy in Q2 this year, with the economy growing 1.2% q/q vs consensus 0.9% and 3.3% y/y vs consensus estimates for 2.8% growth. The pick up in growth was driven by a 5.6% rise in export volumes, largely due to mining exports. The consensus view on the outlook for the Australian economy is increasingly for an investment boom, with the RBA being the most aggressive of the G20 nations in raising interest rates (which now sit at 4.50%). But of course the outlook for interest rates and the Australian economy will be very much dependent on the global economy; particularly the EU and US, where concerns peaked around the Greek debt situation and potential for a US economic double-dip.

4. China PMI
China reported improvement in the manufacturing sector during August, with the official CFLP PMI rising to 51.7 from 51.2 (consensus 51.5), and the HSBC/Markit PMI rising to 51.9 from 49.4. The data point to the possibility that the recent slowdown is only a temporary one, and with the government having recently tightening lending conditions, there is plenty of room to maneuver if additional stimulus is required. Also out this week was the HSBC/Markit services sector PMI, which rose to 57.6 from 56.3 (the services sector accounted for 43.4% of China's output last year). So for now it seems the outlook is relatively positive; confirming the growing economic clout of the so-called BRIC economies. But as with the results we saw earlier (Brazil, and India) the threat of a resurgence in inflation is still a credible threat in spite of policy tightening.

The PMI results for the US were also out this week and also showed an upwards blip; rising to 56.3 from 55.5, against consensus 53. However much of the lift in the main index was due to more lagging indicators such as production and employment; new orders dropped slightly, and prices rose, with exports falling and imports rising. The non-manufacturing index was also out, which fell to 51.5 from 54.3 in July, below consensus 53. The new orders index fell 4.3 points, as did export orders, production, and employment. So not such a great outcome. Also out this week was the payrolls data, showing an expansion in private payrolls, but a contraction in overall nonfarm payrolls, wages rose slightly. The strength in private payrolls is promising, but the numbers are still not great, so again, for the US it's the muddle ages.


We saw a continuation of the strengthening rebound of the Brazilian and Indian economies, confirming views on the global economy being driven by strength in emerging markets. We also saw continued strength in the Australian economy, which is set to continue its mining boom driven surge; but as with the strong emerging markets, inflation is a growing threat. The results are largely consistent with the idea of a 3-tiered economic recovery.

In China we saw improvement in both of the manufacturing PMI data, with some strength in new orders, and strength also showing through in the non-manufacturing sector. The data point to the possibility of the recent slowdown being temporary, and lines up with the results from the other big emerging markets, with the theme being strong growth - but potential for overheating.

Finally we saw some positives, but nothing particularly great in the US data this week. Aside from the promise of further stimulus measures coming next week, the scenario seems to be the muddle ages of the recovery. But one question on the US economic outlook front will be to what extent it may eventually gain from the growing strength in the large emerging market economies like India, China, and Brazil?

1. Trading Economics
2. Trading Economics
3. Australian Bureau of Statistics
4. Yahoo Finance & CFLP & Markit/HSBC
5. Yahoo Finance & Institute for Supply Management

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Econ Grapher - Economic Calendar - 30 August 2010

August 29, 2010 by Econ Grapher   Comments (0)

Here's the Economic Calendar for the week commencing the 30th of August 2010. This week there's Q2 GDP results from Canada, Australia, Switzerland, and the EU. And of course given that this week brings the start of September we've got PMI figures out of China, the US, and a range of other countries. The other notables will be S&P/Case-Shiller house prices, US consumer confidence, Canada and Aussie current accounts, an ECB rate non-decision and of course US nonfarm payrolls.


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