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2015 Challenges - Global Economics Weekly

Global Economics Weekly Brief

2014 Making 2015 a Real Economic Challenge...

The UK’s recession and recovery was reinterpreted this week giving the size of the economy a one-off boost. But the latest data show growth is slowing to a more steady pace. Meanwhile the Euro zone is edging closer to deflation. US is continually borrowing money and Asia is on the edge! 2015 will have many challenges globally!



You can rewrite history… The UK's economic history was rewritten by its statistical agency last week, and there were some headline grabbing changes. First off, the recession wasn't quite as bad as previously thought, with GDP falling by 6%, rather than a 7.2% drop. And the recovery has been slightly better too, with the pre-crisis peak in GDP being surpassed in Q3 2013, 9 months earlier than in the old data. It means the economy is now 2.7% bigger than it was before the recession. Do we believe these statistics?

…but the story remains the same. So how does this change our view of the UK economy? There are big changes, particularly that business investment has been stronger than previously thought. But the biggest challenges remain. The UK's productivity performance is still very poor and the current account deficit is at record breaking levels. Finally the revelation that the economy is bigger and has been growing faster than thought actually poses some difficulties. It highlights how long it is taking to fix the public finances and how weak tax revenues have been despite better economic growth. UK borrowing are now at £1.4 trillion and rapidly borrowing. Foreign companies are not paying the `right` taxes on their profits. Training people at any age is still very low. Too many people entering the UK to find work! Wages are being kept down due to foreign workers willing to work for less than UK born workers! Many challenges ahead with possible social unrest in the future!

Off the boil but simmering. The UK services PMI edged down to 58.7 from 60.5 in August. But new business continues to roll in at a very solid pace and service firms remain on the hunt for more labour. The construction PMI also looks healthy with both housing and commercial developments performing well. The disappointment came in manufacturing. The resurgence that started around the middle of last year has fizzled out. The culprit? Weak demand in the Euro zone. Further cooling seems likely as growth slows to more a normal pace. Everything is slowing!

High and low. Let's start with the relatively good news. Despite the unemployment rate across the Euro zone remaining unchanged at a high-ish 11.5% in August, the actual number of people unemployed fell to the lowest it’s been in almost two years. But this isn’t helping one of the Euro zone's biggest challenges, which is to raise inflation. Higher inflation would help limit public debt ratios, but unfortunately annual inflation fell again in September, to just 0.3%. While that's not a surprise, high unemployment and low inflation tend to go together. Still more unemployment on its way!

More detail. Low inflation is a worry for the European Central Bank (ECB) which kept rates on hold as expected last week. It provided more detail of its latest effort to help revive the Euro zone economy and push inflation back closer to its 2% target. The ECB will begin buying covered bonds (instruments banks use to raise funding) as soon as this month and Asset-Backed Securities (packaged up loans sold by banks to investors) later this year. And there's plenty to buy. The ECB indicated that the potential universe for purchases is around €1 trillion over two years. This latest plan looks like the last roll of the dice before the ECB opts for a purchase programme that includes government bonds. In other words, quantitative easing and plenty of it!

Help me out. The Euro zone's slowdown continued in September with the manufacturing PMI slipping below the all-important 50-mark in mighty Germany. With weak growth to its West, recent tensions to its East, and a slowdown in China, it is not surprising. The composite reading for France, covering both manufacturing and services, remains stuck below 50 and suggests the economy cannot get moving. Meanwhile Italy’s composite reading has moved sharply lower as the summer has drawn to a close. Spain and Ireland continue to post decent readings. But that will not be enough for the region as a whole. Many more challenges ahead in 2015 and what will happen in France/Italy/Spain will be further decline!

A good week. The US economy added 248,000 jobs in September, taking average monthly job growth this year to 227,000, up from 197,000 at this stage last year. Unemployment fell to 5.9%, the first time it has been below 6% since August 2008. But the US isn’t immune from events around the world. Like most other economies manufacturing and non-manufacturing ISM surveys suggested that growth slowed a little last month, but both still remained at historically high levels. With all that good news attention is turning to when the Fed might start to raise rates. Expect plenty of speculation and debate about the timing of that policy change.

Can we build it? Last week the International Monetary Fund released a paper posing the question ‘Is it time for an infrastructure push?’ Firstly, it stated that public investment in infrastructure raises output in both the short and long-term. Second, it found that given low borrowing costs and weak demand in advanced economies, the time is right for an infrastructure push. So does the UK have a need? According to the IMF, the quality of UK infrastructure has been rising since 2009. And it scores more highly than the US and Italy. But there is still room for improvement. Canada, France, Germany and Japan all score more highly than the UK. What is the future?

Borrowings globally. Are we on the way back to the many financial disasters the world have experienced before? Are bankers etc leading the world to another financial crisis? Read history and it will show you the future! When will the world change its aptitude on greed?

About the Author Colin Thompson

Colin is a former successful Managing Director of Transactional/Document Manufacturing Plants, Document Management/Workflow Solutions companies and other organisations, former Group Chairman of the Academy for Chief Executives, Non-Executive Director, Mentor - RFU Leadership Academy, Mentor - Coventry University, Mentor - The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, author/writer Business Advice Section for IPEX, Graphic Display World, NewsUSA, GraphicStart, many others globally, helping companies raise their `bottom-line` and `increase cash flow`. Plus, helping individuals to be successful in business and life in general. Author of several publications, research reports, guides, business and educational models on CD-ROM/Software/PDF and over 2000 articles and 35 books published on business and educational subjects worldwide. Plus, International Speaker/Visiting University Professor.

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Dr Colin Thompson
Managing Partner
Direct: + 44 (0) 121 247 4589
Mobile: 07831 588310
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email: colin@cavendish-mr.org.uk
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2015 Economic Challenges - Global Economics Weekly


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