Global Macro Recap 17th August

Global Macro Recap 17th August

   · Turkey has experienced a tumultuous week after US President Trump imposed sanctions on Turkish government officials triggering a currency crisis. The Turkish Lira fell steeply to a low of 0.14 USD/TRY on Monday but has since recovered to a value of 0.16 USD/TRY. Turkey has responded by imposing further tariffs on US imports, with Turkish President Erdogan calling for a boycott of Apple Products. The Turkish Lira has lost 60% of its value year to date. 

 

· India announced their largest trade deficit in July since May 2013 with their gap between imports and exports reaching $18 billion USD. This has worsened the prospects for the Rupee which has already been negatively affected by the crisis in Turkey, the currency has already depreciated 8.6% in 2018 and on Tuesday fell to a low of 70.08 INR/USD.

 

· The Bank of Canada has raised interest rates for the fourth time since July 2017, reaching 1.5%. The low rates since the global financial crisis have resulted in a record level of $1.6 trillion USD in debt, a figure that is mostly made up by mortgages. This level of debt has caused the central bank to gradually increase interest rates in order to avoid dramatically increasing default rates in the economy.

 

· On the 15th of August, Hong Kong intervened to defend its peg to the US dollar for the first time in three months, after the local currency fell to the weak end of its trading band. 

Unlike a floating exchange rate system, where the value of the currency is determined through the private market forces of supply and demand, under a fixed or ‘pegged’ exchange rate, the value of the currency is determined against a major world currency (usually the US dollar) and maintained within a certain range by the central bank. The Turkey-induced turmoil in emerging markets prompted risk aversion among investors and strengthened the US dollar, placing pressure on the Hong Kong dollar.  In response, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority bought HK$2.159 billion (275 million USD) of local dollars to ensure the currency traded within its permitted range of HK$7.75-7.85 against the USD. However, with the Hong Kong dollar likely to remain weak in the near future, further intervention from the monetary authority is expected.

 

·  On the 7th of August the RBA left the cash rate on hold at 1.5% on the back of worrying levels of household debt, stagnant wages and falling house prices. The bank has become more optimistic that the unemployment rate will continue to fall and for inflation to rise towards target as Australia reaches potential output. The bank’s GDP forecast remains unchanged at 3% in 2018 and 2019. However, the market isn't so sure as indicated in the futures curve which now hasn't priced in any rate hike until January 2020.

 

The National Accounts: Analysis of Australia's GDP, Capex, Wages, Inflation, Corporate Profits and Consumption

The National Accounts: Analysis of Australia's GDP, Capex, Wages, Inflation, Corporate Profits and Consumption

The National Income and Product Account (NIPA), is one of the four main financial statements of the economy, which outlines the gross domestic product (GDP) of a country. Typically, the NIPA is released by the statistics authority of a nation, the Australian Bureau of Statistics publishes Australia's NIPA quarterly. We will demonstrate how to read and understand the NIPA, and undertake some analysis of Australia's GDP, capital expenditures, wages, inflation, corporate profits and consumption. 

Click here to read our National Accounts: GDP Analysis report

Bonds: Nominal, Inflation-Linked, GDP-Linked, Social Impact

Bonds: Nominal, Inflation-Linked, GDP-Linked, Social Impact

The bond market is the largest securities market in the world, providing countless investment options. Many people are familiar with aspects of the market, but as the number of new products grow, even a bond expert is challenged to keep pace. While a fixed-coupon bond is the most common type, in this report we will examine three other types of bonds that are generating a lot of attention recently; Inflation-Linked bonds, GDP-Linked bonds and Social Impact bonds. We will showcase some of their unique characteristics and the advantages that they offer for investors and the economy.

Click here to read our bond report to learn about these interesting and emerging bond types

The Yield Curve: What it is & Why it Matters

The Yield Curve: What it is & Why it Matters

The yield curve is watched closely by economists and financial practitioners for its wide implications, from the money markets, capital markets to the broad economy as a whole. We'll walk you through what the yield curve is, how to analyse it, and show historical examples of how the yield curve changes throughout the business cycle. As well as current yield curves in different countries around the world. 

Click here to download the SMIF Yield Curve Report

 

To trade or fade… Analysis into the Trump administration’s tariffs

To trade or fade… Analysis into the Trump administration’s tariffs

Behind the tariffs

On Thursday the 1st of March, U.S. President Donald Trump shocked the world by announcing an intention to impose import tariffs on Steel and Aluminium (STAL). The proposed tariff rates, 25% and 10% respectively, are the result of a report released by the U.S. Department of Commerce on the 16th of February. The report concluded that current steel and aluminium imports “threaten to impair the national security” in their current state of affairs.
 

The key finding of the report pertaining to a national security threat is the domestic production of steel being necessary for “defense requirements and critical infrastructure”. This result led to the recommendation of a minimum 24% global tariff being applied to steel imports, with 12 countries having a tariff rate of at least 53%, including China and Russia.

 

Similar to the findings relating to the steel industry, the aluminium industry decline is considered to be another threat to national security, and is blamed on “foreign government subsidies”. A minimum tariff of 7.7% was recommended by the report, with a 23.6% rate on China, Russia, Hong Kong, Venezuela and Vietnam.

 

A threat to national security

 

The decline of the U.S. STAL  industries has been considered a national threat under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. National security is considered “at risk” due to the inability of the domestic industries to produce sufficient quantities of respective commodities. In turn, they provide the Defense industry with a reliable stream of the materials needed for construction and manufacturing.

 

A greater risk to U.S. national security are the long term economic effects that the tariffs are going to have. The medium-term effects of some companies, such as the U.S. Steel Corporation, promising to recommence operations will be dampened over the long run without appropriate policy management. Protectionist trade measures may increase the amount of production in targeted industries, but this will be to the detriment of those purchasing the materials produced in the form of higher costs passed on. Over the course of modern history, infant industries protected from foreign competition have often failed to innovate and grow enough to sustain operations in a competitive market. They lack the incentive to perform since they hold greater market power as protected oligopolies.

 

Industries lacking innovation and growth lead to upward pressure on prices, the simple solution would be to subsidise the purchase of domestic steel and aluminium. This model, the Import-Substitution model, was employed by many South-East Asian countries prior to the Asian Financial Crisis of the late 1990’s. Without appropriate policy incentivising a robust and sustainable business model, the U.S. steel and aluminium industries will repeat mistakes of the past.

 

Impact on Australia

 

Trump confirmed Australia would be exempt from these tariffs in a March 10 press conference, stating “great flexibility and cooperation will be provided to those countries that are really friends of ours”.  Although Australia remains immune from the protectionist policies put in place by Trump, it is the retaliation of other countries which has the potential to have an impact on Australian trade.

 

Uncertainty surrounding the ultimate outcome of a global response to the tariffs will impact stock markets around the world. The ASX is highly correlated to the NASDAQ and DJI, at around 85% and 87% respectively on a month-to-month basis and as such the Australian stock market will follow trends of the U.S.. Given that protectionist policies will strengthen the U.S. economy, the Australian economy is likely to strengthen as well. However, amid growth in the strength of the U.S. economy, global growth is also likely to fall as exporters of STAL products are affected. The overall effect on the Australian economy can’t yet accurately be predicted.

 

In the event of a trade war being waged, Australia could benefit handsomely at the expense of a great many others. Foreign policy should discourage a trade war due to the larger ramifications. However if it is unavoidable, then Australia could become the trade hub to link U.S. markets to countries such as China facing the tariffs. Yet doing so may risk the strong relationship between Australia and the U.S. as it would be seen as undermining the Trump administration's attempts to strengthen domestic STAL producers. In such an unpredictable global political realm, Australia needs to be cautious and remain impartial so as not to antagonise the economic powerhouses of the world, given our economic ties to them.

 

Global trade war or empty threats

 

The European Commission (E.C.) announced it would propose “ firm and commensurate” counter measures within days, in response to the United States’ decision which it labelled as a “blatant intervention to protect the US industry”. In a statement, the E.C. promised to “not sit idly while the European steel industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk”. The full extent of any retaliatory policies to be put in place by the E.C. remains to be seen, but this does set an example for surrounding nations to follow suit. There has been no update from the E.C. to date on any counter-measures that may be imposed.

 

The risk of a global trade war heightened when China’s foreign minister Wang Yi  guaranteed a “necessary response to counterbalance ” the recent punitive tariffs put in place by America. Trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies have risen since Trump took office in 2017, and although China only accounts for a small fraction of U.S. steel imports, its industrial expansion has helped produce a global glut of steel that has driven down prices.

 

In light of the latest announcement from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, counter tariffs worth $3b will be “imposed to offset its loss incurred by the U.S.’s decision”. Spokesman, Hua ChunYing, of the Ministry also stated that “we want no trade war with anyone, but if our hands are forced, we will not quail nor recoil from it”. This gives the impression that despite some statements suggesting that China will not engage in a trade war, there is still an impending threat.

National Account Overview - December Quarter 2017

National Account Overview - December Quarter 2017

The Australian economy grew by 0.4% in the December quarter and by 2.4% year-on-year. This was below market expectations of 0.7% and 2.9% quarterly and annualised respectively. Growth slowed in comparison to September’s 2.8%. 

Household expenditure drove growth in the economy during the December quarter, increasing from 0.5% to 1%. This was driven by holiday shopping and all components rose except for food and utilities. Trade was the largest drag on growth, in part from a stronger Aussie dollar. The major declines in exports were in rural goods, transport equipment and travel services.

Private investment remained subdued, detracting 0.3% off growth for the quarter, mainly from a decrease in private dwellings and a sharp decrease in new engineering construction. In addition, public investment increased 2.9% for the quarter driven by state and local governments.

Wages ticked up to grow at 1.1%, contributing to 4.8% increase for the year, the strongest since June 2012. The increase in wages is consistent with stronger employment data reported in the labour force. The sector with the largest wage growth was construction at 8%.

Western Australia and the Northern Territory’s GDP contracted for the quarter at -0.2% and -7.6% respectively. The fastest growing state was the ACT at 1.6%.