David Fuller and Eoin Treacy's Comment of the Day
Category - General

    Worst Korean Jobs Figures in Nine Years Undermine Moon's Agenda

    This article by Jungah Lee for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

     

    South Korea’s jobless rate hit the highest level in nine years, adding to evidence that President Moon Jae-in’s minimum wage hikes are doing more to harm employment growth than they are to raise incomes.

    The seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate reached 4.4 percent in January, the worst figure since January 2010, when it was 4.7 percent. The median forecast of economists was for 3.8 percent. Meanwhile, jobs growth slowed to 19,000, down from 34,000 jobs in December.

    Moon’s administration hiked the minimum wage by 11 percent this year, following a 16 percent increase last year.

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    A record 7 million Americans have stopped paying their car loans, and even economists are surprised

    This article by Tanza Loudenback for Business Insider may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    The delinquency figure represents a new high in the auto-loan market — more than 1 million more people are behind on auto-loan payments now than at the end of 2010. More people have auto loans now than in 2010, so while the overall rate of delinquency is down, the total number of people who have fallen at least 90 days behind their payments is higher.

    The Fed has been tracking the auto-loan industry for more than five years, the economists said in the blog post, and it's not the first time the group has sounded the alarm. In 2017, a quarterly report from the Fed highlighted the near doubling of the rate of delinquencies in subprime auto loans originated by auto-finance companies since 2011, Business Insider's Matt Turner reported.

    Turner also reported at the time that Wall Street was expressing concern over the subprime-auto-loan market as well. Meanwhile, Business Insider's Lauren Lyons Cole reported that Americans borrowed more money to buy cars than to attend college between 2016 and 2017.

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    Trump Open to Letting March 1 Deadline for China Tariffs Slide

    This article by Saleha Mohsin and Margaret Talev for Bloomberg maty be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    President Donald Trump said he is open to letting a March 1 deadline to raise tariffs on Chinese products pass without penalty if the two sides are near an agreement, sending a conciliatory signal as talks to resolve a trade war between countries continue.

    “If we’re close to a deal where we think we can make a real deal and it’s going to get done, I could see myself letting that slide for a little while,” Trump said to reporters during a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. “But generally speaking I’m not inclined” to delay raising tariffs, he added.

    Negotiators from the world’s two largest economies began their latest round of talks this week ahead of the March 1 deadline for additional U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods. Trump has threatened to more than double the rate of tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports.

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    Overheard Aide Says May to Offer Deadline Delay

    This note from Bloomberg by Alex Morales, Tim Ross, Ian Wishart and Robert Hutton may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    The U.K.’s chief Brexit negotiator Olly Robbins was overheard by an ITV news reporter in a Brussels bar talking about strategy. According to the broadcaster, he said the plan is to delay the vote on the divorce deal until the final week of March, and then give Parliament a choice between a revised version of May’s deal and a very long extension of Article 50 talks.

    The goal would be to scare Brexit supporters into line. A government spokesman said: “We don’t propose to comment on alleged remarks from a private conversation. The government’s focus is on securing the improvements Parliament needs to pass a deal so we leave the EU on March 29.”

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    The Weak Spot in the Oil Market That Traders Are Missing

    This article by Stephanie Ying for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Faltering demand in Germany has preceded weak industrial data, which raised fears of a continued slowdown in Europe’s largest economy. Industrial production dropped for the fourth straight month in December, and Germany’s economy contracted in the third quarter of 2018 for the first time since 2015.

    Standard Chartered analysts warn that the weakness could spread to other parts of Europe, further undermining demand for oil.

    German demand makes up a minor fraction of the world’s oil consumption; the country was the 10th largest oil consumer in 2016, accounting for 2% of the global total, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Since China made up 13% of oil consumption as of 2016, a drop in Chinese demand growth would likely have a comparatively larger impact.

    Additionally, signs of slowing demand in other parts of Europe haven’t materialized, Mr. Horsnell noted.

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    Our 2019 Annual Letter

    Bill and Melinda Gates’ annual letter is a tonic for anyone doubting the progress people can make to help people when they want to. Here is a section:

    Melinda: When economists describe the conditions under which countries prosper, one of the factors they stress is “human capital,” which is another way of saying that the future depends on young people’s access to high-quality health and education services. Health and education are the twin engines of economic growth.

    If sub-Saharan Africa commits to investing in its young people, the region could double its share of the global labor force by 2050, unlocking a better life for hundreds of millions of people.

    Girls’ education, especially, is among the most powerful forces on the planet. Educated girls are healthier. They are wealthier. (If all girls received 12 years of high-quality education, women’s lifetime earnings would increase by as much as $30 trillion, which is bigger than the entire U.S. economy.) And their families benefit, too. The more education a woman has, the better equipped she is to raise healthy children. In fact, UNESCO estimates that if all women in low- and middle-income countries finished secondary school, child mortality in those countries would fall by about half.

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    Swiss Franc Slumps in Mini 'Flash Crash' as Japan Curse Strikes

    This article by Michael G. Wilson and Ruth Carson for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

    The Swiss franc swooned almost 1 percent at the start of Asian trade Monday as thin liquidity caused by a Japan holiday led to a mini recurrence of the “flash crash” that roiled FX markets early last month.

    The Swissie slid from 1.0004 per dollar around 7 a.m. in Tokyo to as weak as 1.0096, the lowest since November, within a matter of minutes before almost as suddenly reversing the move to trade 0.2% stronger on the day. The round trip created a trading range for Monday of almost 110 pips, about double this year’s daily average of 56.

    The move was a smaller cousin of the whiplash that saw the yen jump almost 8 percent against the Australian dollar early on Jan. 3, when Japanese markets were nearing the end of a week-long New Year holiday break. A spokesman at the Swiss National Bank declined to comment on the franc’s drop on Monday.

    “Lack of liquidity is a common factor in these events,” said Rodrigo Catril, a senior foreign-exchange strategist at National Australia Bank Ltd. in Sydney. “Traders and strategists now have Japan holiday calendars printed in a big font at their desk!"

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    Trump Has China Where He Needs It

    This article by J. Kyle Bass and Daniel Babich may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    “Water keeps the boat afloat but can also sink it” is a Chinese proverb that neatly summarizes the nation’s current economic predicament. The debt that has hydrated the Chinese financial system for the past 10 years is now drowning it.

    During the darkest days of the financial crisis in 2008, China launched a 4 trillion renminbi ($593 billion in today’s dollars) infrastructure plan that was accurately described as pulling the global economy out of recession. This infrastructure stimulus plan never ceased, and by 2017 the 4 trillion of spending ballooned to 14 trillion, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics.
     
    At first, China benefited from the economic reforms of the 1990s, its ascension into the World Trade Organization and the resultant inflow of foreign investment by Western companies. By 2009, the previous decade of strong growth meant wages and price levels had risen such that China was no longer a low-cost manufacturer. This made it implausible that exports could drive economic growth. Therefore, China’s central bank printed money to fund a gargantuan stimulus program. 

    History tells us that growth that is funded by excessively rapid credit and money creation can lead to a variety of asset bubbles and to financial, credit and currency crises. A broad measure based on data from the People’s Bank of China and other agencies that includes both bank assets and shadow banking assets such as wealth management products, trust beneficiary rights and trust loans, places China’s total credit at $48 trillion, about 3.7 times its gross domestic product. That compares with $24 trillion for the U.S. despite China having an economy that is 37 percent smaller. China’s decade of rapid credit creation and investment spending has led to soaring property values, despite high vacancy, and low wage levels. These led to tepid export growth and a stagnating economy as the export industry lost competitiveness.

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