Feb 4, 2023
Charting the Global Economy: Fed, BOE, ECB Near Peak Rate Levels
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The Federal Reserve, Bank of England and European Central Bank all conceded that while inflation is cooling in their respective regions, more interest-rate hikes are needed to ensure price stability.
Policymakers across the three central banks signaled that they’re nearing peak levels for rates, and those in the US and UK expressed optimism that they can reduce price pressures without triggering mass unemployment. ECB President Christine Lagarde stopped short of speculating about that possibility but insisted the central bank will stay the course until the job is done.
In the US, employers added 517,000 jobs in January, nearly twice the prior month’s advance and above all estimates in a Bloomberg survey. While some economists questioned the role of seasonal adjustments and other revisions in the shockingly strong increase, the data still point to a labor market far too hot for the Fed’s liking.
Here are some of the charts that appeared on Bloomberg this week on the latest developments in the global economy:
The Fed, BOE and ECB each raised rates this week and seem to be getting closer to the end of their tightening cycles. Ghana’s central bank boosted its key interest rate by less than forecast ahead of an expected finalized deal with the International Monetary Fund by the end of the first quarter.
The IMF sees a “turning point” for the global economy as it raised its growth outlook for the first time in a year, with resilient US spending and China’s reopening buttressing demand against a litany of risks.
The US labor market burned red-hot in January as hiring unexpectedly surged and unemployment fell to a 53-year low, defying recession forecasts and adding pressure on the Fed to keep raising interest rates.
Vacancies at employers unexpectedly increased at the end of 2022, illustrating a solid appetite for labor that the Fed sees as one of the last hurdles to bring down inflation.
Euro-area inflation slowed more than expected, driven by energy. While the rate cooled to 8.5%, a core gauge of underlying inflation held at an all-time high of 5.2%.
The euro area is on course to avoid a recession after unexpectedly growing at the end of 2022, despite double-digit inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Gross domestic product edged up by 0.1% in the final quarter, defying economist estimates for a contraction of 0.1%. While German and Italian output shrank, economies in France and Spain expanded.
The BOE said workforce drop-outs have become an economic dead weight that has left the UK facing its bleakest outlook in generations. In one of the most dismal forecasts it has produced, the central bank said the economy is already in recession and will struggle for growth even when the downturn is over.
China’s reopening is set to provide a welcome boost to global growth. But unlike in 2009, when China’s four-trillion-yuan stimulus helped kickstart a recovery from the Lehman slump, in 2023 there’s a catch — a boost to inflation at exactly the moment central banks race to bring it back under control.
South Korea posted a record trade deficit in January as exports weakened further, raising concerns the economy may fall into recession amid deteriorating semiconductor demand and persistently elevated energy prices. The shortfall swelled to $12.7 billion, almost triple the month-earlier figure, as exports slumped 16.6%.
China’s economy showed a few signs of improvement in January as the country charted a path through its second month without Covid Zero curbs, though a major holiday season kept a lid on some activity. Bloomberg’s aggregate index of eight early indicators showed a slight uptick in activity in January.
Mexico’s economy expanded slightly more that analysts expected at the end of 2022, as resilient demand powered Latin America’s second-biggest economy to a fifth straight quarter of growth. Gross domestic product expanded 0.4% from the previous three months.
--With assistance from Philip Aldrick, Maya Averbuch, Enda Curran, Jill Disis, William Horobin, Sam Kim, Eric Martin, Jana Randow, Augusta Saraiva, Alexander Weber, Zoe Schneeweiss, Tom Orlik (Economist), Björn van Roye (Economist) and Chang Shu (Economist).
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