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The Week Recession Talk Grew Very Loud

Topline: Recession fears—which have gone up and down and back up just in the past nine months—suddenly seem here to stay for the foreseeable future, as global growth slows to a crawl amid trade war fears. Here’s what happened this week, along with key reactions:

  • Goldman Sachs issued a note Monday saying a trade deal between the U.S. and China is not expected to be made before the 2020 presidential election.
  • On Tuesday, Trump walked back planned tariffs on China, delaying some until after holiday shopping, his first acknowledgment that tariffs impact U.S. shoppers.
  • On Wednesday, Germany’s economy was reported to have shrunk as it contends with Trump’s tariffs and trade war with China.
  • Trump also blasted the Federal Reserve Wednesday on Twitter, as he blamed the central bank for dragging down the U.S. economy and returns on government bonds.
  • Then Wednesday’s close registered the worst stock performance of 2019, as investors were spooked by Germany, China and the much-discussed inverted yield curve.
  • China responded on Thursday by promising a retaliation, threatening “necessary countermeasures.”
  • Global markets responded, with the Nikkei and FTSE 100 closing down over 1% Thursday.
  • By Friday, the Dow rebounded 300 points before closing bell, while the S&P recovered 40 points and the tech-heavy NASDAQ bounced almost 130. But the Dow still lost 1.5% for the week, while the S&P edged slightly down at 0.3%.
  • Globally, the FTSE 100 regained 50 points, while the Nikkei recovered 13 Friday, but both indexes ended the week lower than where they started.
  • Analysts pegged the stock market’s slight Friday recovery to an increase in government bond yields.

Key background: The yield curve is the difference in interest rates (or returns) between short-term and long-term bonds. Usually, investors get more money when they invest in 10-year bonds over three-month short-term bonds. The yield curve is also a pretty accurate historical predictor of recessions, so when it happens, economists and investors alike get worried. This year, the yield curve inverted in March and May, and it happened again Wednesday, contributing to the stock market’s tumble.

Further reading:

Why Trade War Plus Yield Curve Equals Recession (John T. Harvey)

Markets Panic For The Second Week In A Row (Milton Ezrati)

Fed Poised To React Swiftly To Persistent Yield Curve Inversion, With More Rate Cuts (Pedro Nicolaci da Costa)

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I’m a New York-based journalist covering breaking news at Forbes. I hold a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Previous bylines: Gotham Gazette, Bklyner, Thrillist, Task & Purpose, and xoJane.

Source: The Week Recession Talk Grew Very Loud

 

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Here’s Why We Suddenly Stopped Hearing About A Recession

Topline: Economists—especially after the stock market took a dive in December—had been warning that a recession was coming, and possibly imminent. But a combination of low-interest rates and an improving labor market has quickly silenced those fears — and complicating the hopes of Donald Trump’s foes in 2020.

  • The risk of a recession decreased last week after the Federal Reserve declined to raise interest rates this year, said Brian Rose, senior Americas economist at UBS Global Wealth Management’s Chief Investment Office.
  • Combined with a stock market bounce-back and a growing economy, investors are now optimistic — a big shift from earlier this year.
  • Major economic predictors showing an increased threat of a recession have scaled back it’s predictions in recent weeks.
  • Asterisk: If President Donald Trump escalates the trade conflict with China by adding more tariffs on Chinese imports—particularly auto parts—the economy could suffer, increasing the chances of a recession, Rose said.

Earlier this year, half of economists surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics predicted a recession in 2020. Another poll of economists by the Wall Street Journal in January put the chances of a recession at 25 percent—the highest since 2011.

Coverage piled on (a few examples: “4 Signs Another Recession Is Coming―And What It Means For You,” “A recession is coming, but don’t flee markets yet,” “The Next Recession Is Coming. Now What?”), with many predicting bad news for Trump (Politico: “Trump advisers fear 2020 nightmare: A recession”). Some industries girded for the worst, like online lenders, who tightened its rules to lessen risk.

And then, suddenly, the panic eased. Now Goldman Sachs economists say there is only a 10 percent chance of a recession. What happened?

The biggest factor in that shift came when the Federal Reserve opted not to not raise interest rates, a pleasant surprise to economists. Rose said lower-than-expected inflation led the Fed to keep rates modest.

The economy, too, has grown, allaying recession fears. According to the latest job numbers, the U.S. has the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years.

“It is hard to have a recession when unemployment is this low and interest rates are this low,” Richmond Federal Reserve president Tom Barkin said on Wednesday.

The biggest risk of recession comes from Trump himself. If he increases tariffs on more goods than the $200 billion in Chinese imports he’s already promised, the risk of a recession increases, Rose said. As trade negotiations remain rocky, investors are increasingly concerned.

“Left on it’s own, there’s little risk to the economy,” he said. “The real risk of a recession comes from policy, particularly trade.”

Barring another recession, positive economic growth should mean good news for Trump in 2020. But as it stands, Trump is still relatively unpopular (his approval rating sits at 46 percent, although that is a high for him). And most forecasters agree the economy won’t grow as much as the White House says it will.

“A normal president with these economic numbers would have job approval somewhere in the vicinity of 60%,” Republican pollster Whit Ayres told the Los Angeles Times. “But Donald Trump is a nontraditional president, and he has, at least at this point, severed the traditional relationship between economic well-being and presidential job approval.”

Still, a recent CNN poll found that 56 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the economy. And while many Democrats haven’t focused on the latest job numbers, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who is running for president, tried spinning the numbers a different way during an appearance on CNN, crediting President Obama with job growth.

I’m a San Francisco-based reporter covering breaking news at Forbes. Previously, I’ve reported for USA Today, Business Insider,

Source: Here’s Why We Suddenly Stopped Hearing About A Recession

Southeast Asian Business Leaders Must Step Up On Development

Consider two statistics about Indonesia: Economists forecast the country will become the world’s fourth-largest economy by 2050. We also have the world’s highest burden of tuberculosis after India, claiming the lives of 150,000 to 200,000 people every year.

These figures illustrate the extreme inequalities dogging the world’s fourth-most populous nation, despite impressive economic growth in the last decade and cutting poverty by half.

In Jakarta and other main cities, a burgeoning middle class is drawing local and international investors, from vehicle companies to financial services to digital technology to retail and fast food chains. Yet tuberculosis still affects far too many people, particularly poor people suffering from malnutrition, while malaria remains a major problem in the remote, heavily forested province of Papua in eastern Indonesia.

To achieve its full potential, Indonesia needs to tackle inequality by investing more in its people. According to the World Bank, growth has primarily benefited the richest 20% and left the remaining 80% of the population–about 205 million people–behind.

As the Bank’s Human Capital Project points out, education and health are two of the best ways to support prosperity and prepare countries for the economy of the future. With education you can change the fate of a country, but better health is central to human well-being. Healthy people live longer lives, are more productive and save more.

I was born into a working-class family at a time (the 1950s) when most families in Indonesia had no access to healthcare. Thousands of children died each year from preventable diseases such as measles, polio and malaria. My father had a business making pedicabs, while my mother ran a fabric shop in the city. When I became an entrepreneur, I felt compelled to give back to Indonesia. Philanthropy is not about making a donation. It is a commitment related to continuity and sustainability, and requires a well-planned system to have impact.

Since 2015, the Tahir Foundation has partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which have played a key role in reversing the course of these epidemics around the word. In Indonesia, the partnership’s efforts are paying off: TB mortality rates have fallen by 44% and TB incidence was down by 14% from 2000 to 2017, thanks to improved case finding and better diagnostics. In 2017, more than half of Indonesia’s districts were officially declared malaria free–a major feat for a diverse archipelago of more than 17,000 islands and more than 300 ethnic groups.

Still, more robust investments are needed. Tuberculosis places a huge social and financial burden on the people who have the disease, as well as on their families and communities. Most of the infections occur in people at their most productive age, draining billions of dollars in loss of productivity due to premature death and medical costs.

I hold the conviction that the private sector and business leaders have an important role to play in public health and development in emerging economies in Southeast Asia, many of which share similar challenges and opportunities. The private sector can bring not only funding, but technical expertise, creativity, and innovation, and are often well positioned to drive policy change.

The government of my country has done a lot for public health, including rolling out a universal health insurance scheme that is designed to provide a wide range of services from maternal care to heart surgery for its entire population by the end of 2019. But the private sector can fill the gaps to complement public resources by expanding access so that all Indonesians benefit from better health.

In 2014, a coalition of Indonesian business leaders, in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, came together to create the Indonesia Health Fund, a significant step toward making Indonesia self-reliant in health funding and a model for philanthropic collaboration in the region. Over the past four years, the fund has contributed to family planning programs, TB research and advocacy programs, as well as TB screenings

It shows what can happen when public and private sectors come together with a common aim. It is more important than ever with the Global Fund now calling on the world to step up the fight against HIV, TB and malaria in the face of new threats from all three diseases. Raising their target of at least $14 billion will help save 16 million lives over the next three years, avert 234 million new cases and infections, and help us get back on track to end these diseases. The fund is calling on the private sector to contribute at least $1 billion of this total. So let us all do our share.

uncaptioned image

Doctor Yulismar checks the condition of a patient who has tuberculosis bacteria at the Indonesian Association Against Tuberculosis (PPTI) clinic in Jakarta, Indonesia, on March 24, 2016. (Photo: Jefri Tarigan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Disclosure: Dr. Tahir is the owner of the license to publish Forbes Indonesia magazine.

Source: Southeast Asian Business Leaders Must Step Up On Development

The world’s weird self-organizing economy — Our Finite World

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Why is it so difficult to make accurate long-term economic forecasts for the world economy? There are many separate countries involved, each with a self-organizing economy made up of businesses, consumers, governments, and laws. These individual economies together create a single world economy, which again is self-organizing. Self-organizing economies don’t work in a convenient linear […]

via The world’s weird self-organizing economy — Our Finite World

 

 

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