Manufacturing Recession on Both Sides of the Atlantic

October 1, 2019

The manufacturing sector is very sensitive to the strength of export demand. Consequently, the trends of the U.S. and euro area manufacturing purchasing manager indices provides good empirical evidence to test President Trump’s oft-repeated assertion that the United States will win a trade war and incur minimal collateral damage along the way.

Euroland’s IHS-compiled PMI fell 1.3 index points to an 83-month low of 45.7 in September. The PMI slipped under the 50 level, which separates improving conditions from deteriorating ones, last February and dropped 7.5 index points over the year between September 2018 and September 2019.

The ISM-compiled U.S. purchasing managers index also dropped 1.3 index points in September’s reading, matching Euroland’s PMI drop and leaving the differential between the two data series unchanged at 2.1 points. The U.S. PMI had not been as low as September’s 47.8 reading since it was 46.3 in June 2009. That’s 123 months ago and coincidentally the final month of the U.S. Great Recession. Moreover, the U.S. PMI declined by 11.7 index points between September 2018 and September 2019, or 4.2 points more than the slide of Euroland’s PMI over that period.

Taken together, the two data series corroborated what economic theory suggests, which is that trade wars tend to be a lose-lose conflict for both combatants. And in relative terms, it seems that Trump’s trade war has in fact hurt the United States more than Europe. This in fact makes sense. As a safe haven among major paper currencies, the dollar has strengthened against the euro in the face of geopolitical uncertainty caused by the trade war. Relative to the euro and measured by monthly averages, the dollar strengthened almost 6% between September of 2018 and last month, and the U.S. currency had advanced twice that amount since February-March of 2018. That appreciation erodes the price competitiveness of exports and import-competing goods, all other things being the same.

Mfg PMIs U.S. Euroland Spread EUR/USD
Jan 2013 53.1 47.9 +5.2 1.330
February 53.1 47.9 +5.2 1.334
March 51.5 46.8 +4.7 1.295
April 50.0 46.7 +3.3 1.301
May 50.0 48.3 +1.7 1.299
June 52.5 48.8 +3.7 1.319
July 54.9 50.3 +4.6 1.309
August 56.3 51.4 +4.9 1.331
September 56.0 51.1 +4.9 1.335
October 56.6 51.3 +5.3 1.364
November 57.0 51.6 +5.4 1.349
December 56.5 52.7 +3.8 1.370
Jan 2014 51.3 54.0 -2.7 1.361
February 54.3 53.2 +1.1 1.366
March 54.4 53.0 +1.4 1.380
April 55.3 53.4 +1.9 1.380
May 55.6 52.2 +3.4 1.374
June 55.7 51.8 +3.9 1.360
July 56.4 51.8 +4.6 1.354
August 58.1 50.7 +7.4 1.332
September 56.1 50.3 +5.8 1.290
October 57.9 50.6 +7.3 1.268
November 57.6 50.1 +7.5 1.247
December 55.1 50.6 +4.5 1.232
Jan 2015 53.5 51.0 +2.5 1.162
February 53.3 51.0 +2.3 1.135
March 52.3 52.2 +0.1 1.083
April 51.6 52.0 -0.4 1.081
May 53.1 52.2 +0.9 1.116
June 53.1 52.5 +0.6 1.123
July 51.9 52.4 -0.5 1.101
August

September

October

51.0

50.0

49.4

52.3

52.0

52.3

-1.3

-2.0

-2.9

1.114

1.123

1.121

November

December

Jan 2016

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Jan 2017

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Jan 2018

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Jan 2019

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

48.4

48.0

48.2

49.7

51.7

50.7

51.0

52.8

52.8

49.4

51.7

52.0

53.5

54.5

56.0

57.6

56.8

55.3

55.5

56.7

56.5

59.3

60.2

58.5

58.2

59.3

59.1

60.7

59.3

57.9

58.7

60.0

58.4

60.8

59.5

57.5

58.8

54.3

56.6

54.2

55.3

52.8

52.1

51.7

51.2

49.1

47.8

52.8

53.2

52.3

51.2

51.6

51.7

51.5

52.8

52.0

51.7

52.6

53.5

53.7

54.9

55.2

55.4

56.2

56.7

57.0

57.4

56.6

57.4

58.1

58.5

60.1

60.6

59.6

58.6

56.6

56.2

55.5

54.9

55.1

54.6

53.2

52.0

51.8

51.4

50.5

49.3

47.5

47.9

47.7

47.6

46.5

47.0

45.7

 

 

-4.4

-4.8

-4.1

-1.5

+0.1

-1.0

-0.5

0.0

+0.8

-2.3

-0.9

-1.5

-0.2

-0.4

+0.8

+2.2

+0.6

-1.4

-1.5

-0.7

-0.1

+1.9

+2.1

0.0

-1.9

-1.3

-0.5

+2.1

+2.7

+1.7

+3.2

+5.1

+3.3

+6.2

+6.3

+5.5

+7.0

+2.9

+6.1

+4.9

+7.8

+4.9

+4.4

+4.1

+4.7

+2.1

+2.1

1.076

1.090

1.087

1.111

1.114

1.134

1.130

1.124

1.106

1.120

1.121

1.103

1.078

1.054

1.063

1.064

1.069

1.072

1.106

1.124

1.153

1.182

1.191

1.176

1.174

1.184

1.220

1.234

1.234

1.227

1.181

1.167

1.169

1.155

1.166

1.148

1.136

1.138

1.142

1.135

1.130

1.123

1.118

1.130

1.121

1.112

1.101

 


Copyright 2019, Larry Greenberg. All rights reserved. No secondary distribution without express permission.

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