Eq: Dev ex-US
American investors keep hearing the same warnings—Europe is slowing, and the malaise is coming for you! But in truth, how bad is the German, and EU economy really looking? The answer is that it is doing quite badly. The manufacturing sector has entered a recession in Germany (the bloc’s largest economy), and the central bank says the country is likely to enter a recession in the third quarter. A big test is going to come this week as numerous consumer data points will be released.
FINSUM: If the gloom has spread to consumers, a recession would appear to be inevitable. The market has sky-high expectations for ECB easing, so let’s hope they are met!
Trump’s tariffs are having a major impact on the US’ trading relationships. The data has been showing such, but now there is a very significant data point: China is no longer the US’ largest trading partner. Mexico has now assumed that position. The decline in trade with China comes alongside an escalating trade war that has seen tariff hikes and restrictions on both sides.
FINSUM: We are now officially of the position that this trade war with China will not be resolved any time soon, so this decline in trading seems to be the end of an era.
The future of the EU is an open question, and one that seems to be growing bleaker once again. Much of the cultural mood that preceded Brexit is now taking hold in Germany. German media is angry at the ECB about robbing its savers of income with very low or negative interest rates. News outlets refer to the “expropriation” of German assets (a term with huge historical resonance). Altogether, the German people are angry about their wealth funding the rest of an EU they see as squandering it.
FINSUM: Germany has benefitted disproportionately from the Euro as it keeps their currency artificially weak. Yet it is also true that hard working Germans have been subsidizing the irresponsible finances of southern Europeans for years. It seems a way off, but Germany could be the next EU domino.
In a very worrying report from the EU< European manufacturing is in a “free fall”. Data from Germany, the bloc’s largest economy, shows that the country’s manufacturing industry is declining rapidly. “In manufacturing, the business climate indicator is in freefall”, said the head of a highly regarded economic research group. The chief economist at Commerzbank added that “there is far and wide nothing to be seen of the second half recovery hoped”, continuing “Germany is in a grey area between a marked growth slowdown and a recession”.
FINSUM: Europe certainly looks headed for a recession (unless the ECB can save it). Will the US catch the economic flu this time, or remain Teflon America?
We thought it would be good to add a little European flavor to today’s coverage. The Financial Times has written a very insightful piece about the EU and the effect Brexit has had on it. In particular, it cites Donald Tusk, one of the EU’s top policymakers, who says that Brexit has been a “vaccine” against anti-EU parties across the continent. “As Europeans see what Brexit means in practice they also draw conclusions … vaccine against anti-EU propaganda and fake news”.
FINSUM: The EU has seen what Brexit has done to quell any anti-EU sentiment within the Union, which means it will never let off the gas pedal in making Britain’s departure a hellish ordeal.
One the tail risks for markets right now is the sharp downturn that is supposed to happen to the stock buyback market. Huge levels of corporate buybacks have been supporting US equities for years, but that is forecast to drop dramatically. While that may wound US stocks, it poses a major opportunity for another area: Europe. European stocks don’t see much in the way of buybacks, which has left them much less loved than the US recently. However, the declines in US buybacks are likely to make Europe look much more attractive.
FINSUM: European valuations are significantly more attractive than in the US, which means that if the playing field gets levelled by decreased buybacks, there is probably a good opportunity here. That said, Europe has a lot of economic issues right now.