Displaying items by tag: economy
All the worries about the economy seem so 2019 now, right? Wrong. A big new warning sign just came out of that all important sector that we love to worry about—manufacturing. New data shows the US manufacturing sector is in its worst shape since 2009, according to the ISM. The sector only accounts for 10% of the economy, but it has been suffering mightily as Trump has ratcheted up the trade war.
FINSUM: So the question is whether this weakness is just because of the trade war or whether it signals something more broad. We think it is primarily trade-driven. As a consolation, garbage stocks have usually done very well when manufacturing is weak, according to Barron’s.
If your natural instinct is to worry about a looming recession, you are not alone. Logic dictates that with the economy and bull market having been rolling for so long, a downturn is inevitably around the corner. However, the chief economist at Deutsche Bank is making the exact opposite argument. Torsten Slok contends that the economic expansion will likely go on for “many more years”. His explanation: “The lack of willingness to spend on consumer durables and corporate capex is also the reason why this expansion has been so weak … And it is also the reason why this expansion could continue for many more years; we are simply less vulnerable to shocks in 2020 because there are few imbalances in the economy”.
FINSUM: We don’t dislike this view, but in our opinion the artificially low interest rates maintained by the Fed have much more to do with the length of this recovery (and its future prospects), than financial conservatism amongst businesses and consumers.
There are some very worrying signals coming out of the high yield sector. In particular, stocks at the riskiest end of the market have been underperforming. Bonds rated CCC, CCC+, and CCC-, which are the three lowest rungs before default, have been underperforming all year and that weakness has now reached an “unprecedented size”. What is worrying is that very lowly rated bonds are usually the most influenced by economic perceptions, and it is unusual that with junk rallying so much this year that this cohort has not taken part.
FINSUM: So there are two options for what this could mean. Either it means investors are just being cautious, or much more negatively, that credit conditions are tightening, which would be a sign of a pending economic downturn.
Deutsche Bank has just gone on the record with a bold prognostication. The bank says that the global economy is “bottoming out”. While that may sound grave without further context, what Deutsche actually means is that the global economy has already seen the worst of the current downturn. The bank expects that the world’s economy will be improving next year, meaning we may have finally turned the corner on slowdown fears. “Key to our optimism is that the risks of trade wars and Brexit are evolving in positive ways, and the possibility of a radical policy shift to the far left in the U.S. and the U.K. after their respective elections seems remote”, says Deutsche Bank’s research team.
FINSUM: So did we just go through a “recession” and now the economy and market are ready to turn the jets back on? Quite optimistic (especially after a 25% gain in the S&P this year), but not altogether unlikely.
The economy has been in a rough patch for about a year, with major economies and emerging markets all slowing. But things may be poised to turn around. Markets have gotten very excited about the prospect for an upturn after the IMF said it expects 2020 to be better than 2019. One economist from Macquarie summarized sentiment this way, saying “As 2019 draws to a close, the market is pricing in economic recovery, with equities in the US hitting new highs and long yields well off the recent lows”. Global trade is now stabilizing, which begs the question as to whether the economy has already weathered the worst of the storm.
FINSUM: When it comes to the economy, things are very hard to forecast, but on balance the situation is looking better than worse.