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The election of Donald J. Trump has created a degree of policy uncertainty that could potentially have a disproportionate impact on those regional economies in the US that depend heavily on immigration and trade. In the absence of policy clarity we are not yet changing our metro outlook, but we are outlining what’s at stake for regions most vulnerable to the regime change.
It appears that Trump will focus on pro-growth policies. But the risk of draconian immigration and trade barriers lingers.
America’s largest and most dynamic cities depend on immigration, especially within high-cost locales where the domestic population is leaving. Stricter immigration policies could also hurt high-tech ecosystems, such as Silicon Valley, a key competitive advantage for the US economy.
The prospect of increased protectionism is stoking the anxieties of US manufacturers that rely on foreign markets. Interestingly, a renegotiation of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could adversely impact Midwestern manufacturing states who swung for Trump in 2016.
The ‘nemesis’ of global trade was a rally cry for Trump’s campaign. However, trade is not solely responsible for the millions of manufacturing jobs lost in recent decades. Automation has enhanced productivity, at the expense of employment, and this should continue in places with major assembly operations.
Because we don’t know how the new administration will play out, we have yet to make material changes to the North American metro outlook. We still expect places with sturdy demographics and a concentration highly-productive industries, such as Charlotte and Seattle, to lead economic growth.
According to government estimates, GDP growth for Q4 2016 is expected to come in at around 0.3% q/q on a seasonally adjusted basis. This would represent a notable slowdown in momentum after averaging over 0.6% q/q for the first three quarters of the year. The weakening in growth reflects a declining impetus from the construction sector and the impact of the ongoing scandal surrounding the President.
And the weaker outcome estimated for Q4 2016 is a sign of things to come in Korea, as the slowdown in construction will expose weaker economic fundamentals elsewhere. Private consumption is likely to slow, constrained by rising inflation, muted employment growth and high levels of indebtedness. In addition, non-construction investment is also unlikely to show strong growth, held back by subdued external demand and corporate restructuring.
Overall, we expect GDP growth to slow to 2.5% this year, down from 2.7% in 2016.
Theresa May’s long-awaited speech on Brexit offered little in the way of new information about the Government’s plans for the negotiations. The UK will leave the European single market and plans to seek a FTA with the EU. But the negotiations will be challenging and are far from guaranteed to succeed.
The Prime Minister did make a potentially important commitment to ask both Houses of Parliament to vote on the final deal, a promise which caused sterling to spike upwards. But we do not see this as materially reducing the probability of the UK leaving the EU; it looks unlikely that ‘remaining’ will be one of the two options that Parliament will be able to vote for.
The threat of major tariffs on exports to the US is not the only challenge facing the Mexican economy in 2017. More immediately, and more certain, is the surge in inflation stemming from the unexpectedly abrupt adjustment in domestic fuel prices. We now expect inflation to overshoot the 4% upper limit of the inflation target for most of 2017.
Furthermore, the peso continues to trade close to historical lows, and medium and long-term inflation expectations continue to rise. Thus, we now expect Banxico to raise its policy rate by 50bp at its 9 February meeting to 6.25%, and by a further 75bp throughout the rest of 2017. This will result in a subdued economic outlook, with GDP growth now forecast to grow by 1.8% this year and 2.0% in 2018, down from 2.1% and 2.2% previously.
The ECB bank lending survey for Q4 showed mixed results. On the one hand, demand for loans continued to rise in the Eurozone, but on the other credit standards for loans to companies tightened for the first time since 2013. The latter was already expected in the previous survey, however, and primarily reflects a significant tightening in the Netherlands, so it is not necessarily indicative of an overall trend at a Eurozone level.
Meanwhile, the German ZEW indicator of economic sentiment improved in January and returned to pre-Brexit levels, while the assessment of the current situation surged to its highest level in five years. This adds to positive hard data recently released and show that sentiment in Germany remains high despite the increased political noise at the start of a key electoral year in the country.
Base effects continue to push inflation higher, with the CPI measure reaching a 29-month high of 1.6% in December.
Last winter’s drop in petrol prices means that base effects will rapidly push CPI inflation back to the 2% target, perhaps as soon as next month. And with pipeline pressures continuing to intensify, inflation is set to move towards 3% in H2 2017.
Growth in export volumes moderated in December albeit momentum for the quarter as a whole was still solid with broad based growth recorded across domestic exports and non-oil re-exports. Moreover, the ongoing improvement in the PMI manufacturing survey indicates that the current export growth momentum is likely to continue over the coming months.
However, we remain fairly cautious on how rapidly global trade momentum will pick up. The outlook is subject to many uncertainties, including the risk of increased protectionism.
Dismal GDP figures for Q3 2016, showing growth at just 0.2%, and early signs of a weak Q4 performance suggest that last year the South African economy grew at its slowest pace since 2009. A growth outcome in line with our forecast of 0.4% for 2016 would be significantly below potential and falls well short of what is needed to boost employment and address income inequalities. Despite several risks, which should not be ignored, we expect 2016 will be the bottom of the current business cycle, but even so our forecast GDP growth rate for 2017 is just 1.2%, while the budget and current account deficits will remain high.
This month will see the nomination of the Socialist candidate for the French presidential election in April/May. Recent developments suggest centre-left Emmanuel Macron has nearly caught up with the Front National’s Marine Le Pen in the polls, increasinghis chances of making it to the second round of the ballot, while support for Republican François Fillon has fallen. Although the candidates have very different policy agendas, whoever is elected is likely to favour both fiscal consolidation and structural reforms.
Macroeconomic data continues to be solid, with the unemployment rate falling to 9.5% in November – its lowest since 2012 – and pointing to a further year of strong consumer spending. An end-of-the-year revival in the manufacturing sector suggests that business investment may also be recovering. We have nudged down our GDP growth estimate for 2016 to 1.1% from 1.2% last month reflecting data revisions, but 2017 is unchanged at 1.5%.
Italy’s credit rating downgrade from DBRS on Friday will add to banking sector costs, as the banks will have to provide more collateral to borrow from the ECB.
The Eurozone trade surplus rebounded in November, suggesting higher exports contributed to the manufacturing revival in Q4.
Since the previous meeting, the economic news has supported our view that December marked the last opportunity to pass a substantive new QE package. Draghi will argue forcefully that extending QE was not a mistake – arguing that underlying inflation remains weak and uncertainties remain – and that calls from some quarters to scale back asset purchases before the year end are premature.
Growth in exports eased in December, but growth momentum, as shown by the 3-month moving average, remained strong. Meanwhile, imports bill grew on the back of pick-up in commodity prices, while import volumes contracted.
Exports should continue to garner support from improving global demand and changing domestic policies regarding nickel ore and bauxite. However, we expect exports growth to remain modest amidst sub-trend global economic and trade growth.
After the surprise contraction in GDP in Q3, Australia's economy has returned to growth, with the PMI indices for services and manufacturing both suggesting a strong pace of expansion in the last three months of 2016. We expect this to continue in 2017, with gradual improvements in the labour market supporting consumer spending and a moderate increase in external demand driving export volumes.
With wage pressures still weak and inflation set to remain subdued the RBA is expected to hold rates at 1.5% until Q2 2018, which will provide further support for the economy. Rising rates in the US will shrink the current interest rate differential and put downward pressure on the AUD, which we expect to fall to around AUD1.40 per USD by the end of the year.
House prices have risen substantially across large cities in Asia Pacific since the global financial crisis. Price-to-income ratios and rental yields suggest that housing prices are stretched in several megacities in the region, especially in Greater China and India. While prices may ease in the near term across the board, long-term prospects depend on fundamental economic factors, which vary across the region.
While recent private sector confidence surveys have surged, much of the gains reflect inflated expectations, not surging spending.
We note that US economic momentum is solid, but we caution that expectations are a double-edged sword, and until consumers and businesses see the true colors of Trump's pro-growth fiscal agenda, they are likely to remain cautious.
Despite recent record high consumer confidence, retail sales fell short of expectations. December retail sales up 0.6% on strong autos, gasoline and nonstore sales while core sales rose 0.2%. Overall, the December data confirm our view that the underlying momentum in retail activity remains positive. We expect real PCE to be up around 2.3% in Q4. Our estimate for Q4 GDP is 2.4%.
The German economy ended 2016 on a high note, and while the above-trend 1.8% GDP growth estimated for 2016 will not be maintained this year, growth is not expected to slow too sharply. Despite the weaker euro and recent encouraging global activity data, we remain cautious about export growth prospects and well-flagged uncertainties may also limit the pace of investment growth. Accordingly, for now, we still forecast that GDP growth will slow to 1.5% in 2017 and 1.4% in 2018.
Perhaps the key development in Germany over the past month has been the surge in HICP inflation from 0.7% to 1.7%. While the rise mainly reflected higher energy inflation, core inflation also appears to have increased. Looking ahead, we expect higher inflation to prompt workers to push for higher wage rises to compensate. And given the tight labour market, it seems likely that wage growth will rise in response. We expect headline CPI inflation to climb further in early-2017 and to average about 2% for the year, and it is expected to remain around this level in 2018-19.
After substantial quarterly falls in Q4 2015 and H1 2016, seasonally adjusted GDP only declined by a modest 0.2% in Q3. And we estimate that the economic recovery started in Q4. Encouragingly, a widely-followed private sector proxy for GDP showed activity in positive territory for a second consecutive month in November. We think that GDP grew by 0.4% q/q in Q4, resulting in the economy shrinking by 2.4% in 2016 on average.
For 2017, we expect the economy to rebound by 2.5% on the back of a recovery in both private and public consumption, while investment should pick up in response to the government's progress on macro and micro reforms. However, there are still some major challenges, including the implementation of a fiscal consolidation plan in an election year.
The increase in monetary policy divergence between the US and the Eurozone will likely drive the euro down to parity against the dollar, adding pressure on consumer prices in the Eurozone. Unlike the European Central Bank, we find inflation in the euro area is becoming increasingly dependent on currency fluctuations. As such, the ECB can find itself underestimating inflation during times of euro weakness, potentially leaving policy behind the curve.
In December, the ECB released new staff macroeconomic projections, which revised down inflation forecasts over 2017-18, and critically, projected inflation of 1.7% in 2019, which, as President Mario Draghi has conceded, remains below its 2% target. Underpinning the new ECB forecast is the assumption that the value of the euro will remain flat over 2017-20, whereas we see monetary policy divergence (most notably with the US) driving the effective rate down 6% by Q1 2018.
As a result, inflation is likely to surprise the ECB on the upside in 2017-18 as the euro depreciates, adding weight to the hawk’s side of the table. Inflation could hit the ECB’s 2% inflation limit as early as the second quarter of this year and coupled with robust GDP growth will void the necessity for monetary policy to remain as expansive.
In light of the expected move in the euro, we revisit the topic of exchange rate pass through to import prices and inflation, one that ECB staff have also produced several papers on last year. Our estimate of the impact of the effective value of the euro on inflation lies at the top end of the range estimated by the ECB. According to our model, headline inflation in the euro area would have been nearly double its Q3 reading of 0.26% had the euro not appreciated in 2016.
Critically, we find the impact of the euro on inflation has been increasing since the financial crisis, contradicting research coming out of the ECB. We believe this to result from the growing willingness of foreign firms to pass on higher costs to the euro area, as well as imports composing a greater proportion of the consumer basket.
Yesterday, the ECB published the account of its December monetary policy meeting, in which it reiterated that low core inflation and political uncertainty warranted a continuation of its asset purchase programme beyond March 2017. Reduced deflation risk was a factor behind the reduction in the size of monthly bond purchases, but the ECB also highlighted concerns over bond scarcity.
Consumer prices in the Eurozone rose strongly at end-2016, with Spain confirming its 1.4% inflation rate in December, the highest since 2013.
GDP contracted in October, in line with our expectations, but this does not mean that the economy is headed for a renewed slump. Rather we estimate that the economy was still on a very modest expansionary trajectory at the end of 2016. And we expect that GDP growth will accelerate from an estimated 1.3% last year to 1.7% in 2017.
On the bright side, the energy sector's adjustment to lower oil prices looks to be largely finished. And going forward we expect the sector to contribute, albeit modestly, to growth. Meanwhile, stronger non-energy sector activity, fiscal stimulus, and still historically low interest rates should also support firmer growth over the course of the year. That being said, there remain several important risks to the outlook. The most prominent risks include: any negative impact of incoming US President Donald Trump on demand for Canadian exports, bloated housing values in the Toronto and Vancouver areas and over-indebted households.
The headline trade data masks a significant improvement in the 3mma momentum of monthly seasonally adjusted trade volumes. Combined with rising trade prices, this sets us up for solid headline trade data in the first quarter of 2017, especially on the import side. The export data indicates improved sequential global demand momentum, while the import data reflects well on domestic demand, for now.
Consumer inflation pushed lower in December. But, surprisingly, industrial production growth picked up in November, shrugging off the anticipated impact of ‘demonetisation’. However, given the volatile nature of the series, we do not read too much into one print. We remain of the view that the short-term impact of the currency swap exercise on growth is likely to be substantial and expect a 25bp cut in February.
The 2017 budget statement contained mixed evidence of the Kingdom’s commitment to fiscal austerity and its hope to balance the budget by 2020, with underlying spending planned to rise 8% this year, but cut once late payments from 2016 are factored in. The government has prioritised support for a stagnant non-oil economy and to provide funds for the National Transformation Plan in 2017, with spending concentrated on investment in infrastructure and transport, but notable cuts in wages, subsidies and military spending.
Overall GDP is forecast to slow to 0.7% from 1.4% in 2016. Non-oil GDP is forecast to rise by 1.8% on the back of higher oil prices and an increase in government spending, although consumers will still be adversely impacted by job cuts, wage freezes and further fuel subsidy cuts. But oil production is forecast to fall by 2.2% as Saudi commits to the OPEC deal to cut production, though we remain sceptical of its long-term success.
The Bank of Japan is expected to maintain its 'around 0%' 10-year JGB bond yield target this year and next. However, with global yields set to rise we believe that market pressures on Japanese yields will result in the BoJ offering to buy unlimited amounts of bonds (that is as many bonds as necessary to bring yields back down to 0%). This can still be consistent with falling overall gross purchases as we expect the central bank to focus on assets at the shorter-end of the curve, while reducing purchases of bonds with maturities of longer than 10 years.
Given the growing divergence in US and Japanese monetary policy we expect the yen to continue to depreciate this year, ending 2017 at around 124. The weaker yen profile is expected to support an ongoing recovery in exports during the course of 2017-18. We expect GDP to grow 1% this year and 0.9% in 2018.
A stronger-than-expected 1.5% rise in Eurozone industrial production in November is another indication that the region is shrugging off the considerable ongoing domestic and external uncertainties. Our Eurozone GDP indicator now points to quarterly GDP growth of 0.6% in Q4.
Meanwhile, the German economy expanded by a robust 1.8%, on a workday adjusted basis, in 2016. And despite the surge in public spending, the government still ran a healthy budget surplus, providing it with scope to loosen the purse strings.
Get ready for more populist governments. There is now sufficiently widespread backing for global populism that at least one further victory in a major economy is very likely in the next year or so, our analysis of populist policies and support in 20 large economies shows.
Economic data remain quite buoyant as we enter 2017, with private sector confidence recording post-recession highs.
We estimate that real GDP growth averaged 1.6% in 2016, and expect it will firm to 2.3% in 2017. We see the Trump administration focusing more on its pro-growth fiscal agenda than on a broad-based protectionist and anti-immigration platform. We expect the peak growth effect from increased government infrastructure outlays and tax cuts will occur in early 2018, with average growth that year expected around 2.5%.
Following a 25bp increase in the federal funds rate target range in December 2016, we forecast that the Fed will raise interest rates by 50bp in 2017 and 75bp in 2018.
The 2017 budget gives off mixed messages regarding the Kingdom’s commitment to fiscal consolidation. The scale of spending cuts implemented in 2016 was impressive (15.7% y/y in underlying terms), and greater fiscal transparency added to the Kingdom’s fiscal credibility. But the government has paused austerity in 2017, with the emphasis on supporting a stagnant non-oil economy and implementing post-oil plans. Nevertheless. we believe the Kingdom’s 2017 budget deficit forecast of 7.7% of GDP is achievable which would represent a fall from 16.8% of GDP in 2016 and 15% of GDP in 2015; indeed, OE projects a deficit of 7.5%. However, we still project a small deficit of 1.7% of GDP by 2020.
The Kingdom plans to increase underlying spending by nearly 8% in 2017 (although this would represent a cut of over 4% from an adjusted 2016 spending total that includes payment delays). Most of the extra spending is for infrastructure and transport spending as well as for the National Transformation Plan. We forecast that capital spending will increase by 25% this year (though remain well below levels seen between 2011 and 2015). Current spending is forecast to fall by 14% in 2017, with cuts concentrated on wages, subsidies and the military.
The government debt burden increased from 5% of GDP in 2015 to 13.2% of GDP in 2016 to fund the budget deficit and slow the pace of rundown in net foreign assets. While we expect the debt burden to continue rising it is forecast at 25.5% of GDP in 2019 and 24.7% of GDP in 2020, still within the 30% threshold the Kingdom hopes to hold it to. However, our simulations suggest it would hit 30% of GDP in 2020 if the oil price averaged just US$50pb over the whole forecast horizon. Similarly, the budget deficit would be 5.4% of GDP in 2020. The government issued some US$27.5bn in international loans and bonds in 2016. We still expect a further US$75bn in 2017-20 including an Islamic bond in Q1 with a resumption of domestic bond issuance after the pause in Q4 2016.
Excluding China, Japan and India, we expect Asia’s GDP growth rate to remain stable in 2017, supported by the ongoing recovery in exports and resilient domestic demand.
The risks to our view stem from global developments, and domestic politics and policies. But the skew of risks is difficult to assess. Uncertainty is set to be the buzzword for 2017 and could tip the scale for our projections in either direction.
The Eurozone economy appears to have remained resilient to the wide-ranging uncertainties currently confronting it from both home and abroad. The broad picture from the available data for Q4 last year suggests that the economic recovery gathered steam after steady but unspectacular quarterly gains of 0.3% in Q2 and Q3. The composite PMI rose to a five and a half year high in December and, on past form, points to a Q4 GDP rise of almost 0.5%. Meanwhile, retail sales are on track to grow by a robust 0.9% in Q4, implying that household spending has picked up. As a result, we now expect a healthy 0.5% increase in GDP in Q4.
The key concern is of course whether the surge in inflation in December, which looks set to continue in early-2017, will undermine the household spending recovery and lead to GDP growth tailing off this year. For now, however, we have made no major changes to our growth assessment – we see GDP growth of about 1.5% in both 2017 and 2018, a touch weaker than this year's upwardly revised 1.7% rise, but still well above the economy's potential growth rate.
Spanish industrial production surged in November, expanding 3.2% on the year. The strength of the industrial sector in Spain suggests that Q4 GDP growth there could be as high as 0.8%.
Given upside surprises in Spain and France, Eurozone industry now looks likely to have risen by 1.2% in November. And our Eurozone GDP indicator now points to growth of as high as 0.6% in Q4, fuelled by the manufacturing revival.
A bumper crop of ONS releases offered mixed news about activity in November, with a surprisingly strong rebound in industrial production but a second successive monthly decline in construction output.
Both sectors are likely to have seen output decline over Q4 as a whole, but our short-term model suggests that GDP growth is likely to come in at 0.5%, with the possibility of a stronger outturn.
2016 ended on a sour note for the Turkish economy, contracting for the first time since 2009, falling by 1.8% y/y in Q3. On the back of the weaker-than-expected data, we have revised our growth forecasts, and now expect the economy to have slowed to 2% growth in 2016 and to remain sluggish at 2.4% in 2017 (down from 2.8% and 2.9% in our previous report). Political uncertainty and increasing security threats are also compounding the effects of the weak economic data.
And to unnerve investors even more, the credibility of macro policy has continued to be eroded. The central bank (CBRT) has again come under pressure to keep interest rates low to support the economy despite the likelihood of yet more inflationary pressure from the latest depreciation of the TRY, which has lost almost 10% of its value since the beginning of December. Without strong action by the central bank, we think the TRY will remain weak, falling to 3.8/US$ by year-end.
We recently raised our short-term and long-term interest rate forecasts on the expectation that a substantial $1.2 trillion fiscal stimulus package will boost real GDP growth to 2.3% and 2.5% this year and next, respectively, from 1.6% in 2016. We expect the Fed to raise rates twice in 2017 and the bond market sell-off should continue, but at a more subdued pace. The 10-year Treasury note yield rises to 2.75% by year-end 2017, up from our previous forecast of 2.15%.
The timing of the next Fed rate hike will depend on the underlying strength of the economy and the timing, size and composition of prospective fiscal stimulus. We expect it will take until late spring before we have clarity on changes to economic policies, thus the Fed will likely wait until June before it pulls the tightening trigger again. Thereafter, we expect the second rate hike to come in the fourth quarter.
The stronger dollar, up 5% in Q4 2016, and the sharp rise in bond yields does some of the tightening work for the Fed. Using our Global Economics Model we estimate that every 5% rise in the dollar represents a Fed-led 50 basis point rate increase.
Long-term yields will continue to rise on the heels of increases in short-term interest rates and an anticipated widening in the federal budget deficit owing to a looser fiscal policy under a Trump Presidency.
Foreigners have been net sellers of US Treasuries, led by aggressive selling by China as it manages the decline in the renminbi. However, the wide interest rate differential between the US and other countries limits the degree of the net selling.
The ascent in bond yields should be less steep than what we witnessed over the past six months. The reason is that we believe the reflation trade has largely run its course as inflation expectations are now more in line with our forecast and the Fed's inflation target.
Consumer prices rose 0.4% in December, causing the annual inflation rate to fall to 5.75%, from 6.0% the previous month. We continue to expect that the monthly rise in prices will pick up in Q1 2017 due to seasonal patterns. However, annual inflation will likely fall within the target range by mid-year.
On the monetary policy side, we expect BanRep to cut rates by 50bp to 7% this month, taking advantage of the recent appreciation of the peso on the back of higher oil prices and positive political developments.
French industrial production rebounded sharply in November to its highest level in five years, adding to the global manufacturing revival at the end of 2016.
Republican candidate Francois Fillon’s radical reform programme is backfiring, leaving more votes to Emmanuel Macron and shrinking his lead against Le Pen.
After the referendum and Renzi's resignation, a new government has been formed from the existing parliament. Paolo Gentiloni, foreign minister in Renzi's cabinet, is the new Prime Minister, and the composition of the new cabinet is very similar to Renzi's team. We expect the new government to focus on harmonising the electoral system. It is possible that once the new electoral system is in place there will be elections. But designing new electoral laws could take up most of 2017.
Meanwhile, the banking situation is far from resolved and Italy needs a strong government in the months ahead to deal with this significant problem and its repercussions for the wider economy. This was clear when, at the end of 2016, the ECB told the Italian government that Monte dei Paschi bank would need an extra €8.8bn of capital.
Recent indicators on the state of the economy are mixed. The manufacturing PMI for December reached its highest level since June 2016, but the labour market has struggled to make further progress in recent months, and inflation has moved into positive territory.
Against this background, we see the economy growing by only 0.6% in 2017 after an estimated 0.9% last year. We believe that uncertainty following the 'no' vote at the referendum will continue to have some economic impact in early 2017. However, a surprisingly quick fix to the political situation and relatively calm financial markets probably means some upside risk to our growth forecast.
We have revised the Brexit assumptions underpinning our baseline forecast following a series of comments from key Government ministers. We continue to expect that Article 50 will be triggered this year but now assume that the two-year period of exit negotiations is followed by transitional arrangement – likely to be similar to the status quo – lasting two to three years. This would provide breathing space to negotiate a FTA.
But much could still go wrong. The Government’s insistence that it can agree a FTA within the Article 50 period looks misguided and raises the concern that it will lose patience if progress proves slow. This means that the probability of the UK ultimately reverting to trading with the EU under WTO rules remains high.
Solid numbers for industrial production and trade in Germany confirm that Europe’s locomotive ended 2016 on a strong footing. In France, solid business sentiment adds to other positive survey indicators, pointing to a solid Q4 in terms of economic activity as well.
The first official survey indicator for 2017 in the Eurozone is in – the Sentix indicator jumped to its highest level in over a year in January, widely exceeding expectations.
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