From Markit Economics, released February 3rd, 2014:
The strong upturn in manufacturing production was maintained in January, as companies scaled up output in response to stronger inflows of new orders. There were reports of improved demand from the domestic market and rising levels of new business from overseas…..
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Bank of England Gov. Mervyn King announced plans to flood banks with cheap funds in a dual attempt to jump-start lending to British households and businesses and to fend off potential financial problems at big U.K. lenders. The programs resemble some of the emergency measures enacted by central banks in Europe and the U.S. during peak crisis periods in recent years.
“There is now little point in Britain staying in the EU,” said MacShane, who was a minister in Tony Blair’s generally pro-Europe Labour Party government. “It is an historic turning point and Britain might as well get out now, as Europe’s future will be settled without us.”
…….The economic impact of leaving the European Union would be difficult to predict. British companies might lose easy access to European markets — where they now enjoy open trade, with few barriers — but Britain also might be able to negotiate a favorable trade treaty with Europe, as Israel and Mexico have done.
Comment: ~ Withdrawal from the EU could harm the same financial sector that David Cameron has vowed to protect. The UK may view tighter financial regulation and/or transaction taxes imposed by the EU as a threat, but interruption to trade/financial flows posed by isolation from the EU would be an even greater danger.
[European Union] leaders, who are still deeply divided over key elements of their crisis strategy, decided they would move to form a pact among at least 23 of the members to tighten rules on national fiscal policy.
But details of the proposed treaty remained to be settled. The U.K. stood aside—after Prime Minister David Cameron failed with what officials said was a “shopping list of demands” designed among other things to protect national supervision of its banks—while Hungary, Sweden and the Czech Republic reserved their positions.
“We will achieve the new fiscal union. We will have a euro currency within a stable union,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the end of the meeting. “We will have stronger budget deficit regulations for euro-zone members.”
There really is no politically feasible route back to sustained economic growth through monetary and/or demand stimulating policies for the EA, the UK, the US and Japan, for many years to come. As regards demand stimulus, expansionary fiscal policy will not be punished by the markets to the point of being self-defeating for all EA member states except for Germany (which will not do it on any significant scale for domestic political reasons). The US also may be technically able to use fiscal expansion to stimulate demand, but even if markets continue to be tolerant, political gridlock makes it impossible. Expansionary monetary policy is at the end of its rope in the US and Japan. The UK could cut the official policy rate by 50 bps and the ECB by 125 bps, and then they too are restricted to quantitative easing (QE), which I consider to be ineffective.
[Treasury chief George Osborne] will also announce an extra £30 billion in new money to be spent on infrastructure such as railways, roads, classrooms and broadband connections, said a person familiar with the matter. Of this, £20 billion will be provided by pension funds. The Treasury has signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Association of Pension Funds to provide this cash. Another £5 billion will come out of savings in other government departments and be spent over the next four years. The other £5 billion will be spent after 2015, but plans will be set out now.
The Prime Minister on Monday conceded that tackling Britain’s debts was “proving harder than anyone envisaged”, raising the prospect that the Coalition would be unable to close the deficit by 2014-15……Debt is “a drag on growth”, Mr Cameron told business leaders. “We are well behind where we need to be,” he said.
Despite austerity, the forecast of this year’s UK structural deficit has increased from 6.5% to 8% – requiring an extra £22 billion ($34.6 billion) in cuts a year. Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne blame the eurozone crisis; in fact, their own economic illiteracy is to blame. Unfortunately for all of us, the explanation bears repeating nowadays. Depressions, recessions, contractions – call them what you will – occur because the private-sector spends less than it did previously. This means that its income falls, because spending by one firm or household is income for another.
In this situation, government deficits rise naturally, as tax revenues decline and spending on unemployment insurance and other benefits rises. These “automatic stabilizers” plug part of the private-sector spending gap. But if the government starts reducing its own deficit before private-sector spending recovers, the net result will be a further decline in total spending, and hence in total income, causing the government’s deficit to widen, rather than narrow. True, if governments stop spending altogether, deficits will eventually fall to zero. People will starve to death in the interim, but the budget will be balanced.
Italy’s MIB index is testing medium-term support at 15000 on the weekly chart. Failure — and respect of the descending trendline — would warn of another decline, with a target of 9000*. Breach of primary support at 13000 would confirm.
* Target calculation: 13 − ( 17 − 13 ) = 9
France’s CAC-40 index is similarly testing support at 3000. Breach of support would warn of another decline — as would reversal of 13-week Twiggs Money Flow below zero. Failure of primary support at 2700 would offer a target of 2000*.
Even the FTSE 100 index is testing medium-term support. 13-Week Twiggs Money Flow looks stronger than its European neighbors, but reversal below zero would warn of a further decline. Breach of medium-term support at 5350 would warn of a test of primary support at 4800.
Mohamed A. El-Erian, CEO of PIMCO, describes four key dynamics that will shape the future of the global economy:
Many economies have built up excessive debt that is now causing market instability. They have three options for de-leveraging: default, like Greece; austerity, like the UK; or “financial repression” like the US — where “interest rates are forced down so that creditors, including those on modest fixed incomes, subsidize debtors”.
Economic growth would reduce the ratio of debt to incomes: “Many countries, including Italy and Spain, must overcome structural barriers to competitiveness, growth, and job creation through multi-year reforms of labor markets, pensions, housing, and economic governance. Some, like the US, can combine structural reforms with short-term demand stimulus. A few, led by Germany, are reaping the benefits of years of steadfast (and underappreciated) reforms.”
It is also important that the benefits of economic growth be shared across the entire community, reducing income inequality and related social instability.
Political systems in Western democracies, designed to support the status quo, are ill-equipped to deal with these “structural and secular changes”. Failure to adjust is the greatest risk.
“Those on the receiving end of these four dynamics – the vast majority of us – need not be paralyzed by uncertainty and anxiety. Instead, we can use this simple framework to monitor developments, learn from them, and adapt. Yes, there will still be volatility, unusual strains, and historically odd outcomes. But, remember, a global paradigm shift implies a significant change in opportunities, and not just risks.”
The Office for National Statistics said its comprehensive internationally comparable measure of unemployment rose 129,000 in the three months to September to 2.62 million, the highest level since 1994. That lifted the unemployment rate to 8.3%, the highest rate since 1996, compared with 8.1% in the three months to August.
Within that figure, the number of unemployed people between 16 and 24 years old, known as youth unemployment, rose 67,000 in the three months to September to 1.02 million, a rate of 21.9%.