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Highlights: Azerbaijan is at the mercy of oil... Serbia and Kosovo have awoken their old demons. In Saudi Arabia, a reformist 2017 budget has been drawn up on the basis of Brent at USD 50/bbl. In Côte d'Ivoire, the crisis has multiple faces. In China, 2017 will be a year of challenges. Is Mexico staring at the end of NAFTA?
On 17 January, UK PM Theresa May clarified the broad objectives of her government's plan for the Brexit. The UK will leave the Single Market and the customs union. It will seek a comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union and ambitious trade deals with third countries. May also promised a parliamentary vote on the final terms of the Brexit.
Highlights: Doubts persist as to Turkey's potential for growth. In Serbia, the public finances are improving faster than expected. In Egypt, the new floating exchange rate regime has devalued the pound by 57% in 12 months and triggered a new bout of inflation. In South Africa, the economy is flagging in a gloomy climate. Is China moving towards making fewer foreign acquisitions? GDP has again fallen in the third quarter in Brazil.
US risks are likely to materialise in an increase in long-term rates, an appreciating dollar, and, if the expansionary fiscal policy suddenly propels the nominal GDP growth rate well beyond its potential rate, in a far more aggressive monetary policy, especially from 2018 onwards. In 2017, the Eurozone is less likely to be impacted by real transmission channels than by financial ones, due to the tightening of financial then monetary conditions in the United States, resulting in upside pressure on interest rates, to which will be added pressures from its own political risk. In this way it will be up to the ECB alone to provide minimal visibility and steer interest rates. It will need to soothe anxious, volatile markets with the hope that, in 2018, once those national political deadlines are behind it, Europe will exist in a manner other than through its monetary policy alone.
Highlights: Russia's Central Bank is on the horns of dilemmas. Turkey is seeing a very significant worsening of its corruption indicators. In Tunisia, the economy is ailing despite the aid, but there is some political hope. In South Africa, the budget has been revised in a toxic atmosphere. In China, the Communist Party's Plenum was held under the banner of transparency... Brazil cuts its key rate for the first time since 2012 (but only by 25bp).
Because of an illegitimate, disturbing and – let us say it – highly contestable monetary-policy framework from the ECB, the economic, financial and political future of Portugal lies in DBRS's hands. On 21 October, DBRS will update its opinion on Portugal. If it downgrades the country's credit rating by one notch then Portuguese bonds will no longer be eligible as collateral at ECB refinancing operations nor for QE. Our base-case scenario is that DBRS will not downgrade Portugal and that it will keep its outlook unchanged (stable).
Highlights: Hungary's sovereign paper "investment grade" rating has been reinstated. What is the nature of the Russian regime? In Egypt, support from multilateral agencies has helped boost reserves, but the conditionalities are painful. Q2 external demand has been saved from recession in South Africa. India has adopted a law designed to unify the tax system for goods and services at national level. Mexico: why is the peso so weak and the key rate so high?
At a time when world trade is flagging – for reasons that are as much structural as cyclical – and when it is no longer a growth driver, households continue to be growth's chief pillar. They consume and they invest. Following a period of deleveraging, the improving labour market, the steady – if sluggish – rise in wages, positive wealth effects and low inflation – which is driving gains in purchasing power – constitute a series of fundamentals that, so far, is proving resilient.
Although the drivers do not all have the same power, they should nevertheless allow both the US and European economies to grow at a rate of 1.6% in 2016. That rate is respectively close to and much higher than those economies' potential growth rates of 1.6-1.7% in the US and 1% in the Eurozone. That said, we cannot see any recovery in productive investment, which is clearly not at the level we could have hoped for. It is also futile to hope for a sharp increase any time soon in what (in the olden days…) used to constitute a ‘growth engine'.
The ECB did not officially extend QE, but they clearly pointed towards a change in the modalities over the near-term ("tasked the relevant committee"); we see it as a step towards an official extension in October or in December this year, along with an easing of purchase modalities, probably a removal of the deposit rate floor.
We have analysed the scarcity issue for German bonds as it is the most obvious impediment to the smooth running of the purchase programme until a suitable end time. Our conclusion was not extremely reassuring as it pointed to difficulties for the ECB starting this winter.
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