- Unemployment in the euro zone jumped more than expected in February to 8.5 percent. (Reuters)
- South Korean exports fell 21.2 percent in March from a year earlier, but there were tentative signs of improvement from previous months, suggesting the global slump in demand may be bottoming out. (Reuters)
- South African manufacturing contracted for an 11th consecutive month in March as the global economic slowdown curbed demand for exports, a survey indicated. (Bloomberg)
The Bank of Japan’s Tankan index of sentiment among large manufacturers slid more than forecast to minus 58, the lowest since the survey began in 1974.
“Spend, spend, spend. Japan has taken up the global mantra with gusto: $120bn of fiscal stimulus, worth 2 per cent of gross domestic product, is now to be topped up again – although by an amount that is as yet unclear. Yet, as the rich world’s most indebted nation, Japan also faces the biggest challenge footing the bill – a salutary lesson for other big spenders. Pump priming in the 1990s has left Japan with a public debt burden nearing 180 per cent of GDP. That is more than twice the level in the US and the UK and well above Italy which, at 114 per cent of GDP, is the next biggest offender among developed nations.”
FX Trading – Is trade leading crude and comdols?
A reader sent an email the other day asking us if we could stop being so depressing in Currency Currents. I told him we’d try. Unfortunately today isn’t the day as a plethora of depressing pronouncements have been promulgated and posted in our key news section above. And this is just a small sampling…ugghhh.
Seems global gloom is deepening and widening. If there is one glimmer it is that South Korea’s exports to China didn’t fall quite as much as they had last month. For it is China stimulus, coupled with the US, the world seems to be counting on to lift us from this morass.
What was beginning to appear promising was the recent rally in oil prices. Though oil pricing is a mystery to us given all the vast complexities of the production chain, it seems crude will likely be the best single indicator that industrial production may be ticking higher somewhere. The bad news, yes more of it, is that crude is heading south again.
We know what you are thinking because we have been thinking the same thing–hasn’t crude oil fallen far enough already?
Well of course we never know. But what may concern oil bulls is our very unscientific analysis this morning. It is contained in the two charts below. The first is from The Wall Street Journal; it shows ebbs and flows in global trade going back to 1980. For grins, we compared it to the oil chart going back to the same period. And interestingly, but of course it represents a very small sample size, it seems trade tends to bottom ahead of a bottom in oil prices.
Why we think this may be important is because based on the hits we’ve seen to global trade numbers so far this year, a 6.1% decline in global trade, as disastrous as that is, may be extremely optimistic if the game of government stimulus doesn’t stimulate.
And all this has a lot to do with the potential price action for a group of currencies affectionately dubbed the comdols–commodity dollars.