Distressing Economic Data

March 10, 2009

The week is still young, but economic data have been strikingly poor.  Germany and Japan reported further sharp declines in exports.  German shipments fell 18.1% in the three months between October and January, an annualized decline of 55%.  For Japan the drop was 40.7% between October and January or 87.5% annualized.  British industrial production in January was 22.7% weaker than its September level at an annualized rate.  In the twelve months to January, industrial output declined 11.4% in the U.K., as well as by 10.9% in France, 13.3% in Bulgaria, 17.8% in Turkey, 19.5% in Finland and 22.9% in Sweden.

Canadian housing starts in February were 36.4% lower than their October level.  Australian newspaper job ads are 25% lower than a year ago, and business sentiment plunged to a 200-month low last month.  U.S. wholesale inventories as a ratio to sales increased to a 9-year high.  Chinese officials have been defensive in denying any deflationary risk after news of negative 1.6% CPI inflation in the year to February, the first negative reading in 74 months and 10.3 percentage points less than in the previous statement year.  Chinese producer prices fell 4.5% in the year to February, a swing from their 10.1% increase between April 2007 and April 2008.

Some data a month ago, for example the European PMI’s, had suggested that the global recession, although strong, may no longer be intensifying.  More recent figures cast doubt on that glimmer of hope.

Copyright 2009 Larry Greenberg.  All rights reserved.  No secondary distribution without express permission.

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