Chinese trade data ring a bell
The latest batch of Chinese trade figures shows an unexpected decline in exports and imports. On the surface, the data can be dismissed as a statistical blip caused by importers reacting to Sino-American trade tensions. Drill down a little deeper, however, and one begins to see bigger problems for China’s economy.
2019 Global Outlook: The economy we left behind
2018 was not a bad year for the world economy, and 2019 should be only a little worse. Consistent with our forecasts, last year brought no disasters: no recession in the West, no major slump in China, no public finance crisis in Europe or global trade wars. Instead, there was satisfactory growth and a long overdue cleanup on financial markets. 2019 will be more sluggish as China keeps slowing and the U.S. administration spurs commercial tensions. Yet the biggest brake will be applied by the world economy’s silent actor – lagging productivity growth.
Brexit and trade
Brexit negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom were supposed to be concluded at the EU summit on October 17. But the deadline passed with no breakthrough, and no plans for a new meeting. With the clock to a “hard Brexit” ticking down, this could be the salutary shock needed to pave the way for a compromise — or point to a future in which the UK’s diminished weight in international trade encourages a drift toward protectionism.
Opinion: Dilemmas of development aid
Like other areas of public policy, development aid has had its recurrent fads. The pendulum has swung from socialist-style big-push schemes to pro-market reforms and their latest iteration, results-based aid. This micro-oriented approach has recently come under attack for neglecting the wider “macro” environment of states and institutions. Decades after the flaws of the traditional aid model were exposed, economists are still casting about for a better alternative.
Rough waters ahead for Chile’s new government
Chile faces economic uncertainty as global trade alliances are thrown into disarray. The new government in Santiago, led by free-market conservative Sebastian Pinera, has a weak position in the legislature. On top of the daunting challenge of diversifying Chile’s copper-based economy, President Pinera must deal with social unrest at home. This situation calls for first-rate leadership that ventures beyond routine governance.
Brexit scenarios: Toward the endgame
Prime Minister Theresa May has bowed to economic reality and unveiled a Brexit model that would keep the United Kingdom close to the European Union. The move provoked an immediate cabinet crisis and the resignations of leading Brexiters. Fear of a Labour government will probably keep other Conservatives in line, but Ms. May’s survival also hinges on the EU accepting her new strategy. Otherwise, a hard Brexit is plausible.
GIS Dossier: Europe as a global player – the basics
As tensions increase within the transatlantic alliance, Europe has begun to reconsider its own place in the world. With the U.S. continuing a long-term strategic retrenchment, its allies across the Atlantic may need to grow beyond their role as Washington’s junior partners. From the migrant crisis to the Iran nuclear deal, from trade wars to dealing with Vladimir Putin, Europe is being forced to declare itself. Will it act like a great power or an imposter?
Opinion: Ready for the next recession?
Economists enjoy delivering bad news. The current favorite being shared by academics and financial experts is that the world is headed for a recession, in 2020 or 2021 at the latest. But we regard this as unlikely, unless there is a major political accident – such as a trade war or turmoil in China. While a slowdown is always possible, especially in Western Europe, that does not make a recession.
Where the United States and global trade are heading
The U.S. is the world’s largest open economy and pillar of the global trading system. Yet its economic challenges today – government debt, wealth inequality, and labor force participation – cannot be reliably addressed through more open trade. One should therefore expect more U.S. steps to change the terms of trade and pressure leading exporters over the next two years.