Gerhard Winzer am 08th May 2015 © Fotolia
Real global economic growth was surprisingly weak in Q1. The preliminary estimate for the annualised growth rate of Q4 2014 to Q1 2015 is only 1.5%. This is mainly due to disappointingly weak growth of the GDP in the USA (+0.2%), in China (+5.3%), in the UK (+1.2%), and in Japan (+1.5%; estimate). Brazil (-2.4%) and Russia (-11.5%) have even shrunk (both figures are preliminary estimates). In line with this situation, the data surprises have been largely negative, and the trend of downward revisions for economic growth has continued.
Gerhard Winzer am 23rd April 2015 © ERSTE-SPARINVEST
The new normal
The importance of China for the global economic and financial system continues to grow at a rapid pace. Last year the country set a new milestone by becoming the world’s biggest economy. The total value of goods and services produced in a year exceeds that of the United States. Thus, at 30% China accounts for the largest contribution to global economic growth.
Gerhard Winzer am 08th April 2015 Foto: iStock
The dynamics of the economy and the markets have declined. Global economic growth is down on a quarter-on-quarter basis, the two most important trends of the past months (appreciation of the US dollar and falling oil price) have come to a halt, inflation is not falling anymore, and the US Fed has put a damper on the expectations of interest hikes. One important exception: the Eurozone has been picking up speed.
Gerhard Winzer am 20th March 2015 © iStock.com
The most important central bank in the world, i.e. the US Fed, made an announcement yesterday that attracted a large deal of attention from investors. The bank withdrew its assurance to remain “patient” before the Fed funds rate would be increased. This paved the way for a possible abandonment of the zero interest rate policy, if economic need be. The new formula goes like this: the Fed funds rate will be raised once the labour market has improved more and the FOMC is optimistic about inflation rising towards the medium-term target of two percent.
Gerhard Winzer am 19th March 2015 © iStock.com
The US dollar has appreciated significantly vis-à-vis the euro in the past months. For this trend to continue, at least two developments would have to be in place. Firstly, the US Fed would have to abandon its zero interest rate policy; and secondly, the ECB would have to remain on its path of negative interest rate policy and bond purchases.
Gerhard Winzer am 03rd March 2015 © iStock.com
The driving topics on the financial markets are the stabilisation of the oil price, mixed economic indicators globally vs. positive economic indicators for the Eurozone, the temporary decline in escalation risk, and the expansive central bank policies.
Gerhard Winzer am 24th February 2015 Foto: iStock.com
Since the cutting of key-lending rates to almost zero in the Eurozone did not suffice to keep the inflation expectations at their long-term target of slightly below 2%, the ECB Council decided in January to expand the central bank money supply until the accomplishment of the target was foreseeable.
The possible effect on the financial market and the economies are multi-faceted. 1) The excessively low inflation expectations increase. This will cause real interest rates (i.e. nominal interest rates minus inflation) to fall. 2) The currency (i.e. the euro) depreciates vis-à-vis other currencies. 3) A so-called asset price effect is created. The ECB buys bonds with low yields, resorting to the central bank money supply. This keeps bond yields very low (partially even negative). Given that, and because the volume of government bonds investable by the private sector shrinks, investors are pushed into asset classes with higher expected yields (bonds with long maturities, bonds with higher default risk, bonds with higher coupons in a foreign currency). This crowding-out effect supports asset prices. The net worth of the holders of these asset classes increases. 4) The willingness of banks to grant loans is supported by the very low bond yields.
Gerhard Winzer am 13th February 2015 © iStock.com
The environment has become a bit brighter in the past weeks.
In addition to the improvement of the economic environment in the Eurozone and Japan, more and more central banks loosened their monetary policies. For example, on 12 February the central bank of Sweden (Riksbank) surprisingly cut its key-lending rate to -0.1% and announced to buy small volumes of government bonds. The reason behind this measure is the same as for similar steps taken by other central banks: the risk of falling short of the inflation target has increased. The markets reacted in a textbook-fashion with falling yields and a depreciating currency (krona). Both are supportive to the economy. On the financial markets the continuously falling and partially even negative yields of government bonds have pushed investors into securities with a higher expected yield (bonds with longer maturities, bonds with a higher default risk, bonds in foreign currencies, shares).