The European Central Bank says interest rates would remain at record lows until the end of the year; Eurozone growth forecast slashed; New monetary stimulus TLTRO-III announced

The Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present levels at least through the end of 2019.

The interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility are 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.40% respectively and these rates are expected to remain in place at least until the end of 2019.

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Have banks in the U.S. started lending more money recently?

We wrote recently that delinquency and charge-off rates across banks in the United States remain low and that bad loans aren’t really increasing for banks in the United States despite some claiming that they are. We had also written about banks in the United States having a problem – they couldn’t find enough customers to lend money to. We wrote that last year and it appears a few things are changing; bank lending in the U.S. is now finally on the up.

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Is the U.S. unemployment rate low due to increased hiring or an increasing number of people quitting the labour force?

This is an interesting one, one of our three U.S. recession indicators is the U.S. unemployment rate.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveals that the U.S. unemployment rate has hit a new multi-year low four to eight months before the start of every recession since the 1940s. In other words, the economy hits full employment four to eight months before the start of a recession.

The unemployment rate goes up at least 1% and then doesn’t go back down without a recession occurring.

US unemployment rate until January 2019

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The Baltic Dry Index is down 48% over the past month

The Baltic Dry Index is a trade indicator that measures shipping prices of major raw materials and is often seen as a global growth indicator. The index is based on a daily survey of agents all over the world.

 The Baltic Dry Index is down 48% over the past month (and down 47% over the past year). Is this an indicator of more trouble around global growth?

Baltic Dry Index 20190212

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European Commission (again) cuts GDP growth forecast for the European Union; Bank of England cuts UK GDP growth forecast; Germany forecast to grow slower than the UK despite Brexit

The European Commission slashed their GDP growth forecast for the European Union (excluding the United Kingdom) and the Eurozone for 2019 and 2020 citing slowing growth in China and weakening global trade.

The growth forecast for 2019 for the European Union (excluding the United Kingdom) was cut to 1.5% for 2019 (was previously forecast 2%) and for the Eurozone was cut to 1.3% (was previously forecast 1.9%).

Germany, Italy and the Netherlands all saw big downgrades for their growth outlook.

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Is Household Debt in the U.S. really a bigger problem than before the financial crisis?

There are various ways to look at Household Debt (total debt outstanding including mortgages, loans, credit cards and other debt) in the United States, we look at two today.

The first is debt servicing costs to disposable income which effectively is how much it costs to service household debt as a fraction of disposable (after tax) income. The second is household debt outstanding to disposable income which effectively is how much debt there is with respect to the same disposable (after tax) income measure.

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