Beaufort Analysis No. 314 – Groundhog Day
While it’s not quite Groundhog Day yet, it certainly feels like it. Last Monday supposedly marked the most depressing day of the year, when quite coincidentally, Brexit was very much the subject du jour. While there was little to speak of following May’s address to the House of Commons, whilst she ruled out a second referendum she is very much still pushing plan A and hinted she would be more “flexible” in how the government engage with Parliament going forward.
The World Economic Forum took place in Davos last week with several key leaders missing from the line-up. Trump, Jinping, Putin and May were all absent, leaving the atmosphere flat. Key themes at the forum were the future of globalisation and of work in a robotic age with world leaders defending free markets and multi-lateral institutions. All in all, there was little of note.
In the US, the government remained partially shut down at US market close. The US Senate failed to pass two bills to reopen government, continuing its stint as the longest shutdown in US history. While there was some movement on negotiations, Democrats expressed a willingness to increase border control spending, they refuse to contemplate funding for Trumps wall. An 11th hour funding package was signed in to law on Sunday, which will allow some parts of US government to reopen for 3 weeks, which will end on 15th February.
The Bank of Japan (BoJ) and the European Central Bank (ECB) met last week to discuss increasing interest rates; there was no change. The BoJ has the most accommodative monetary policy of all the key central banks around the globe and shows no signs of reducing liquidity or increasing interest rates. The ECB on the other hand is a little further down the road of normalisation, having ceased there quantitative easing program at the end of 2018.
Friday marked key data releases from Europe. Momentum clearly shows signs of weakening with PMI data coming in below expectations. Germany and France, key contributors to the Eurozone PMI, delivered sub-par data in the services and manufacturing sectors respectively. France’ reading fell below the expansionary territory of 50 to 47.5, its lowest in 5-years and German manufacturing fell marginally below 50, its lowest in 4-years.