Friday, August 24, 2012

Global economy slowing?

So what does the overall global economy look like, these days? According to the Wall Street Journal, not so great:
Grim data on the economies of China and Europe on Thursday gave a warning signal for global growth, and suggested governments and central banks around the world may be forced to pump in more stimulus to kick-start activity.  
An index of manufacturing in China, the world's second-largest economy, showed the biggest drop in activity in nine months. Factories were hit by a steepening fall in demand for exports, in part a reflection of the euro-zone debt crisis that has clamped down hard on demand for Chinese goods in the European economies. Data on Thursday suggested the euro zone is falling into recession.  
The preliminary HSBC China manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 47.8 in August, compared with a final reading of 49.3 in July, HSBC Holdings and data company Markit Economics said. That is the 10th consecutive month that the index has been below the key 50 level, indicating a month-to-month fall in activity. [snip] 
...China's manufacturing sector was hit in August by a steep drop in export orders, the PMI showed—a reflection in part of slowing demand in Europe. 
Markit said Thursday that euro-zone business activity continued to shrink markedly in August, pulled down by the weakest performance in more than three years in European powerhouse Germany. The figures point to the euro zone falling into its second recession in three years, a development that could heighten tensions in the 17-nation currency zone as its leaders fight to contain the sovereign-debt crisis while economic output withers and unemployment rises.
I don't really know what to say about Europe, so I'll stay out of that stuff. I found this NYT story about growing Chinese inventories of unsold goods to be rather disturbing (and kinda funny), though:
After three decades of torrid growth, China is encountering an unfamiliar problem with its newly struggling economy: a huge buildup of unsold goods that is cluttering shop floors, clogging car dealerships and filling factory warehouses. The glut of everything from steel and household appliances to cars and apartments is hampering China’s efforts to emerge from a sharp economic slowdown. It has also produced a series of price wars and has led manufacturers to redouble efforts to export what they cannot sell at home. 
The severity of China’s inventory overhang has been carefully masked by the blocking or adjusting of economic data by the Chinese government — all part of an effort to prop up confidence in the economy among business managers and investors. 
But the main nongovernment survey of manufacturers in China showed on Thursday that inventories of finished goods rose much faster in August than in any month since the survey began in April 2004. The previous record for rising inventories, according to the HSBC/Markit survey, had been set in June. May and July also showed increases. 
If you've been to pick up an inexpensive Haier air conditioner, I suspect now is the time.  I wonder if we'll start seeing Chinese commodity chemical prices start falling like a rock. 


  1. So things aren't working out in China like everybody thought they would. That includes Eli Lilly, who recently admitted their gamble on the "emerging market" of China is not panning out. Who wants to bet that Lechleiter still gets a million dollar bonus, even though he's been at the forefront of the whole outsourcing/emerging market movement?

    "We gambled with thousands of Americans' jobs, and we didn't win. Oops! Executive bonuses all around!"

  2. "...central banks around the world may be forced to pump in more stimulus to kick-start activity."

    Um, these are some of the people complaining about the deficits Obama and the Dems ran to try (and fail) to float the economy, right? And who are likely to prefer the pair more likely to slash the federal government to the bone? Where is the Fed supposed to get the money to float another stimulus?

    Also, another stimulus is likely to raise commodity prices from speculation (re: Paul Hodges), which will mean that large volume commodity traders, and oil companies, rather than the economy as a whole, will likely make the money from a stimulus. Lots of debt and limited economic benefit != good idea.

  3. Actually, the stimulus was fairly effective, given its small size. And there's no choice. Everyone in an economy can't save at the same time.