When steering through an economic recovery that has been defined by fits and starts and lackluster performance, what everyone searches for are clear signs of a break from that trend.
Asia’s second-largest economy may have expanded a lot quicker than expected in the first three months of the year, but past experience suggests an economic contraction isn’t far off if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe moves ahead with a second sales tax hike in April 2017.
China’s growth outlook has turned ever so slightly for the better, according to one of the more pessimistic independent forecasters of the world’s second largest economy up until now, but because they think Beijing is about to do a lot more of the same.
British economic growth slowed to 0.4 percent at the start of the year, a preliminary release showed as expected on Wednesday, but the real picture may well be better.
U.S. first quarter economic growth, if there is any, is set to be disappointing once again, with private forecasters providing the most pessimistic first-take view for the start to the year since the recovery from financial crisis began.
Gordon Brown has added one more to the already lengthy list of Brexit scenarios: an independent Scotland that could be forced to join the euro zone.
The “Panama Papers” revelations continue to seep into domestic politics in various countries. Seeking to take back the initiative after being on the defensive over his late father’s financial activities, British PM David Cameron will today announce legislation making companies criminally liable if employees aid tax evasion. Some commentators suspect pro-Brexit backers and media are playing the whole business up to damage Cameron and his standing as the main face of the “remain” camp. Elsewhere, after the departure of the Icelandic prime minister, Maltese premier Joseph Muscat is feeling the heat after the leaked papers showed two of his political allies had offshore accounts. Several thousand people took to the streets in Malta’s capital on Sunday to demand his resignation. Muscat says he is looking into the allegations before he takes any further steps.
It’s no secret that Wolfgang Schaeuble has a dim view of how the ECB has conducted monetary policy. For years he has been sending out warnings about Mario Draghi’s cocktail of low interest rates, bond purchases and generous liquidity for banks. Euro zone inflation may be in negative territory, but for Schaeuble, the ECB’s extraordinary measures are unjustified. He has said repeatedly that they risk creating new financial bubbles. Still, until the past few days, Schaeuble’s criticisms were mostly polite and indirect. Now, suddenly, the gloves appear to be off.