Reuters blog archive
The U.S. government shutdown probably won't hit the economy too hard, say economists. Some point to the fact the shutdown has come right at the start of the fourth quarter, meaning there's time before the year's out for the economy to recoup some of lost output resulting from the downtime. But, the longer it goes on, the worse it will be.
And there is always that debt-ceiling tail risk - the worst-case scenario being that the U.S. Treasury will default on one or more of its obligations. A Reuters poll on Monday put that risk at less than 10 percent.
Here's a selection of comments from economists on the impact of the shutdown:
Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist, JPMorgan:
"We estimate that each week the government is shut down will shave about 0.12 percent off the quarterly annualized growth rate of real GDP. There may be additional knock-on effects through confidence and on into consumer spending which are harder to quantify, though in the last shutdown in 1995-6 these appear to have been minimal. Real consumer spending expanded at a 2.8 percent annual rate in Q4 95 and a 3.8 percent pace in Q1 96."
John Silvia and Michael Brown, economists at Wells Fargo:
"The estimated economic effects of a short-term federal government shutdown on our current forecast are estimated to be minor. Our expectation is that our fourth quarter GDP call would be reduced by 0.0-0.5 percent in the fourth quarter. There would be negative effects on government spending and reduced consumption from the furloughed workers. Historically, following a government shutdown, the federal government boosts consumption and federal workers payroll is restored.
Based on the latest U.S. Treasury flows data, it may be time to ditch the textbook theory that says less monetary stimulus means a stronger currency - at least for now.
The problem may just be that the theory doesn't fully account for the situation when your largest creditors - and they are very large - are trying to beat you to the market.
from Global Investing:
The dog that didn't bark was how the IMF described inflation. But might the fall in emerging market currencies reverse the current picture of largely benign inflation?
Nick Shearn, a portfolio manager at BlueBay Asset Management, sees the rise in inflation as not an if but a when, which makes inflation-linked bonds (linkers in common parlance) a good idea. These would hedge not only against EM but also G7 inflation -- he calculates the correlation between the two at around 0.8 percent. He says linkers outperform as inflation uncertainty increases, hence:
from Ian Bremmer:
How do you solve a problem like Korea? Or Syria? Or the euro zone? Or climate change?
Don’t look to Washington. The United States will remain the world’s most powerful nation for years to come, but the Obama administration and U.S. lawmakers are now focused on debt, immigration, guns and growth. A war-weary, under-employed American public wants results at home, leaving U.S. officials to look for allies willing to share costs and risks abroad.
from Ian Bremmer:
China’s new president, Xi Jinping, gave his big inaugural address last week, talking at length about the “Chinese Dream.” He said: “We must make persistent efforts, press ahead with indomitable will, continue to push forward the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and strive to achieve the Chinese dream of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
All that talk of ‘great this’ and ‘great that’ should sound familiar to Americans—it’s the same exceptionalism that their leaders espouse during any major national address. Both the American Dream and the Chinese Dream are patriotism without the isolationism—clarion calls for the nation as well as the individual. For America, it’s about holding on (or reasserting) its claim as the world’s foremost nation. For China, it’s about wresting that title away—or at least providing an alternative prototype that other nations can follow.
from David Rohde:
The question from a colleague – one whose work I admire – could have come from anyone in the United States.
“So the French,” he asked, “now have their own Afghanistan?”
The answer is yes and no. Western military interventions should be carried out only as a last resort. But Mali today is a legitimate place to act.
from Global Investing:
What will happen first? A U.S. credit rating downgrade or the country's unemployment falling below 7 percent?
Or Spain having no other option but to ask for a bailout?
Bank of America Merrill Lynch asked investors in its monthly fund manager survey what "surprises" they saw coming up first this year.
from Anatole Kaletsky:
The U.S. fiscal cliff was dodged in pretty much the way that seemed most likely after November’s election: a bipartisan deal in which pragmatic Republicans, no longer focused on ending the presidency of Barack Obama, joined moderate Democrats to prevent economic sabotage by extremists from both ends of the political spectrum. On Wall Street, the immediate reaction was euphoria. But among mainstream economists and political commentators in Washington, it was cynicism.
While stock markets around the world approached their highest levels since the 2008 financial crisis, media headlines emphasized grim forebodings: Fresh stand-off looms after US cliff deal (Financial Times); Budget deal passes, debt ceiling looms (Wall Street Journal); Deal done but threats remain (Washington Post); Bigger showdowns loom after fiscal cliff deal (Reuters); House backs tax deal as next fight looms (Bloomberg).
from The Great Debate UK:
Wherever you look – radio and TV, novels, internet - history is all the rage these days. Perhaps a large part of the appeal is the nice warm feeling it gives us of being able to look down on the sheer madness and heartless cruelty of our own ancestors. What did they think they were doing back in the 16th century burning witches? Or 300 years later, locking up poor young girls for getting pregnant? Or sending men to jail simply for being homosexuals, as we did until the 1950s ?
History may seem to be nothing but a catalogue of human folly, but have you ever asked yourself what features of contemporary life will have our own descendants scratching their heads and asking themselves: how could they – meaning us, today - be so crazy?
from John Lloyd:
Socialism – real, no-private-ownership, state-controlled, egalitarian socialism – has been off the political agenda in most states, including Communist China, for decades. The mixture of gross inefficiency and varying degrees of repressive savagery that most such systems showed seems to have inoculated the world against socialism and confined support for it to the arts and sociology faculties of Western universities. But what was booted triumphantly out the front door of history may be knocking quietly on the back door of the present. The reason is inequality.
Pointing out inequality is a political attraction these days, and as good a dramatization of that as any is in the comparison between what Tony Blair, Britain’s Labour Prime Minister, said about it in 2001, on the eve of his second election, and what Conservative leader David Cameron said about it in a speech in 2009, soon before the 2010 election that made him Prime Minister. Blair, questioned about rising inequality, responded that while he was concerned with poverty and its alleviation, he didn’t lose sleep about the rich being rich. “It's not”, he said, invoking Britain’s most popular sports figure, “a burning ambition for me to make sure that David Beckham earns less money.”