United Kingdom – The Debt to Income Ratio is now too High

In a recent post I was worried by the potential weakness of UK domestic demand after the fall of the real disposable income for three quarters in a row and by the downturn of the saving rate (see here). I also said in this post that consumer credit was growing too quickly. This post is a complement.
We can go further by looking at all the households’ financial liabilities.
The graph below shows the ratio of the households’ total liabilities to the disposable income. This ratio is now higher than the level that triggered the 2008 financial crisis.
When we go into details we see two divergent trajectories for  the debt and the  disposable income. These profiles are a source of constraints for households.  Debt is growing too fast and a rebound in disposable income is necessary to avoid a further weakness first on consumption and after on real estate.




Sustained growth in the Eurozone since the beginning of the year

Growth has been robust since the beginning of 2017. In the second quarter, the economic activity was up by 2.5% after 2% during the first quarter and 2.4% in the last three months of 2016 (annual rates). Compared to the second quarter of 2016 the GDP level is 2.15% higher and the carry over growth for 2017 at the end of the second quarter is 1.7% (in other words, if growth is 0% in the third and the fourth quarters than the average growth for 2017 will be the same than in 2016). The graph shows this with a strong acceleration during the last three quarters.
Corporates surveys suggest that the growth momentum is strong so the Euro Area GDP growth will be above 2% on average for 2017 (2.1% for Natixis AM) Continue reading

British economy falls behind since referendum

The comparison of industrial activity in the European economy is very instructive when we consider the period after the British referendum on Brexit.
Despite the acceleration of world trade, British industrial production is lagging behind the various countries of the Eurozone. This is shown in the graph below.
The profile of industrial activity in Italy flies across all the major European countries, while the United Kingdom is clearly lagging behind, especially since the beginning of 2017. The gap is significant with the index of the euro zone as well as with France, Germany and Spain.
Continue reading

A graph to illustrate the US structural problem

This graph illustrates an article by David Leonhardt (NY Times) on the US income distribution.

It shows how the income distribution has changed between 1980 and 2014.
In 1980, there was a catch-up effect for low incomes. Their growth rate was higher than the average and higher than high incomes. For the lowest 20%, the 1980 income growth was higher than the average (2.5% inflation adjusted growth)
In 2014, every percentile has an income growth that is lower than percentiles higher on the distribution. There is no more catch-up but divergence.
For the highest 20%, the 2014 income growth was higher than the average (1.4% inflation adjusted growth).
The proposal made by Donald Trump and the Republicans to lower tax rates would accentuate the divergence of the income distribution. It would be negative for the economy.
« Most Americans would look at these charts and conclude that inequality is out of control. The president, on the other hand, seems to think that inequality isn’t big enough. »

Is the strong euro set to last?

Trading at 1.18/1.19 to the dollar, the euro has become a pricey currency. But the European currency has also gained against all other currencies as its effective exchange rate has returned to levels unseen since the end of 2014. So we can no longer count on the euro losing value. This makes the ECB’s job harder as a strong euro allows for importing disinflation, thereby pushing back the chances that inflation in the euro area will swiftly converge towards the 2% target set by the central bank.

We can make three initial remarks on this situation.
The first is that the euro’s swift rise looks like a monetary restriction. Monetary policy has become more restrictive and the ECB’s stance must confirm its aim for accommodation in the long term so as not to increase potential expectations on a change in course. The second remark is that a strong euro is coherent with the euro area’s very high external surplus. The decline in the euro was not compatible with this surplus. The last remark is that the dollar is weak. Its effective exchange rate is at its lowest since the end of 2016: America is not doing well.

Following on from these three remarks, we can derive three explanations to understand this currency movement. Continue reading