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US trade policy: steel-ing the show

US President Trump wants to impose trade tariffs of 25% on imports of steel and 10% on aluminium, although the formal announcement and the exact details are yet to be released. The basis for this move is officially ‘national security’, although it is clear that there are also internal political considerations at play. Still, our […]

Italy: Political fragmentation leads to a hung parliament

Italian voters have shifted significantly to the right and towards populist parties in Sunday’s election, with a huge split between the North and the South. More than 50% of the votes went to Eurosceptic parties (Five Star Movement and the Northern League). As no single party or coalition won an absolute majority, negotiations to form […]

SNB confirms record profit for 2017

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) published its 2017 annual result today. The SNB confirmed a profit of CHF54.4bn in 2017. This was more than double the 2016 figure (CHF24.5bn) and its biggest profit ever. Earnings from the SNB’s foreign currency positions amounted to CHF49.7bn, its gold holdings increased in value by CHF3.1bn and its Swiss […]

Europe – ECB preview

The ECB remains on a cautious exit path. At the 8 March meeting, we expect the ECB to drop its commitment to increase QE in terms of its size and/or duration, if needed – a change that is long overdue, in our view, against a very favourable economic background and given that constraints linked to […]

ECB policy is boosting the Bundesbank’s profits

This week the German Bundesbank published its 2017 annual report, which includes a number of interesting figures that are relevant to the broader (monetary) policy debate in the euro area. In particular, the Bundesbank provided details of the amount of securities held on its balance sheet for policy purposes, including QE, at the end of […]

China: February PMIs point to deceleration in industrial activity

China’s official manufacturing Purchasing Manager Index (PMI) for February came in at 50.3, down from 51.3 in January and 51.6 in December 2017. The Markit PMI (also known as the Caixin PMI), however, edged up slightly to 51.6 in February from 51.5 in the previous month. Due to the floating date of the Lunar New […]

Switzerland: So far so good

Switzerland lagged the US and the euro area in terms of annual GDP growth for the third consecutive year in 2017, but today’s data confirm that the Swiss economy is continuing its recovery. Economic prospects for this year look promising. We expect growth in the Swiss economy to accelerate from 1.0% in 2017 to 2.0% […]

US chart of the week – Not nailing it

Productivity is a crucial missing link in US growth. Q4-2017 productivity data was again disappointing: labour productivity was up just 1.1% year-on-year (y-o-y). It averaged only 1.3% in 2017 as a whole, while the five-year average is a lacklustre 0.8% (versus more than 3% in the early 2000s). Low productivity growth remains a front-and-centre worry […]

Fed update-Jerome Powell’s testimony to Congress

Fed Chair Jerome Powell highlighted continuity with Janet Yellen’s monetary policy in his testimony before Congress today. He highlighted “positive developments” since the December meeting. This could be a hint that an additional rate hike could be in the pipeline (The Fed indicated three rate hikes in the December dot plot). Reading between the lines, […]

China: Presidential term limits to be dropped in the constitution

According to Xinhua News Agency, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has proposed a number of amendments to the Chinese constitution, pending ratification at the upcoming National People’s Congress. One important amendment proposed is removal of the term limits for the president and the vice-president of China, which paves the road […]

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