Don't Shoot the Messenger

  • Japan’s Exports Collapse In January

    Japan’s exports plunged by 45.7 percent year on year in January, producing a record trade deficit, as recessions in the U.S. and Europe, and a sharp downturn in China crushed demand for the country’s machinery, cars and electronics. A drop of this size is truly staggering.

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  • Let The East Into The Eurozone Now!

    “It’s 20 years after Europe was united in 1989 – what a tragedy if you allow Europe to split again.”

    Robert Zoellick, World Bank president, in an interview with the Financial Times

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  • Europe’s Economic Contraction Intensifies In February

    Hopes that Europe’s battered economies might be about to turn themselves around took another sharp knock today (Friday), as the preliminary flash reading on the purchasing manager survey signaled that activity in both the manufacturing and the services sectors are contracting at a new record pace in February.

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  • Ukraine GDP Down 20% Year on Year In January

    Well, Paul Krugman certainly got it right on this one, the Great Depression may now reasonably be considered to have arrived in Ukraine. Ukraine’s GDP declined 20 percent in January year-on-year, according to Valeriy Lytvytsky chief advisor to the chairman of the National Bank of Ukraine. “The decline in GDP in January was about 20 percent according to my reckoning. It’s the biggest drop ever. It’s a bad start,” he said. According to Lytvytsky the construction and industry sectors have been the hardest hit by the economic crisis.

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  • The EU Bonds Story Rumbles On

    Wolfgan Munchau was complaining only last weekend about the extraordinary narrow-mindedness of Europe’s economic and political leadership in the face of the current financial and economic crisis, from Ireland in the West to Hungary in the East, and from Greece in the South to Sweden in the North. But more than narrow mindedness what we are faced with is innocence and inability to react, and frankly I am not sure which is worst. I say “innocence” because it is by now abundantly clear that they simply haven’t yet grasped the severity of the problems we face (in countries like Spain, or even Germany itself, let alone in the East), and I say inability to react, since they are always and forever moving too little and too late. The initial response to the banking crisis last October was one example (where we saw a landshift-style volte face in the space of only one week) and the way we are now confronting the need to live up to the promises then made about guaranteeing the banking sector, and in particular the “systemic” banks, would be another.

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  • Santander’s Banif Fund Suspends Payments

    “I would now expect several eurozone countries with weak banking sectors to get into serious difficulties as the crisis continues. There is a risk of cascading sovereign defaults. If this was limited to countries of the size of Ireland or Greece, one could solve this problem through a bail-out. But solvency risk is not a problem confined to small countries. The banking sectors in Italy, Spain and Germany are increasingly vulnerable.” Wolfgang Munchau, Financial Times, 15 February 2009.

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  • Japan’s “Unimaginable” Contraction

    Well last week Kazuo Momma, head of the Bank of Japan’s research and statistics department, warned that Japan’s economy now faced an “unimaginable” contraction, and today we can begin to see just what the unimaginable might look like, since the preliminary data are for fourth quarter GDP are now out. What we find is when we come to stare the unimaginable in the face is that Japan’s economy contracted by 3.3 per cent in the three months to December when compared with the previous quarter, effectively the country’s worst economic performance in 35 years.

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  • Germany’s Incredible Shrinking Economy

    The FT says this is worse than feared, and I say it is just what I was expecting (see here, I do hope that doesn’t make me one of those “visionaries” you are all so busy talking about).

    Germany’s economic slump in the final quarter of 2008 proved worse than feared, official figures showed on Friday, with the country posting the sharpest fall in gross domestic product since the country was reunified in 1990.The larger-than-expected 2.1 per cent plunge in GDP in the final three months of the year showed Europe’s largest economy contracting at a faster pace than the UK in the same period and threatening to drag down the performance of the 16-country eurozone.

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  • China – The Begining Of The End, Or The End Of The Beginnining?

    Is China about to lead the charge out of the current slump, or is the Chinese economy about to succumb to it? This appears to be one of the most interesting and most hotly debated questions of the moment. On the one hand the latest manufacturers PurchasingManufacturers Index seemed to suggest the contraction in China’s economy slowed in January, while other data, in particular producer price inflation, loan growth, employment figures and movements in external trade seem to give a rather different impression.

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  • Russian Debt And The Euro

    Keynes’s genius – a very English one – was to insist we should approach an economic system not as a morality play but as a technical challenge. Martin Wolf, Financial Times

    The euro fell again yesterday, by 1.1 percent against the dollar (to $1.2860) and by 1.2 percent against the yen (to 117.52 yen). The change, even if quite large in a short space of time, is hardly dramatic, but what is of more interest is the why. Russian companies announced yesterday that they were thinking of opening negotiations to “restructure” their debt. Bloomberg:

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