Category Archives: exports

5/6/21: Ireland PMIs for May: Booming Growth and Inflation Signals

 Both inflationary pressures and economic activity indicators are going through the roof in May, signaling a roaring run for 2Q 2021 growth. 

  • Manufacturing PMI for Ireland is up at 64.1 in May, compared to 60.8 in April. This is a historical high for the series, for the second month in a row.
  • Services PMI for Ireland moved up from April's 57.7 to May reading of 62.1. This marks third consecutive month of above 50 readings, with all of these being statistically above 50.0 line. 
  • Construction Sector PMI (data through mid-May) improved, but remains (at 49.3) still in the contracting activity territory. 
  • Markit's Composite PMI, based on Manufacturing and Services sectors activity indices, rose from 58.1 in April 2021 to 63.5 in May, setting a new all time high. Again, this is the third consecutive month of above 50.0 readings for the Composite PMI.
The chart above plots my own 3-Sectors Activity Index which is based on all three indices reported by Mrkit and uses Value Added contributions by each sector as weights. 3-Sectors Activity Index rose from 58.69 in April to 62.58 in May, setting an all time high. 

In line with robust economic growth, we are witnessing - just as is the case around the world - continued build up of inflationary pressures. Per Markit release: "Input price inflation accelerated for the fifth successive month in May, reaching the highest since July 2008. Manufacturers continued to see much steeper increases in input prices than service providers, although the differential narrowed in the latest period. Companies passed on higher costs to customers, with output prices increasing at a record pace in May (since September 2002)." Emphasis is mine.


10/5/21: Ireland PMIs for April: Rapid Growth and Inflation Signals

Ireland's PMIs have accelerated across all two key sectors of Services and Manufacturing in April, while Construction Sector continued to post declining activity (through mid-April).

Irish Manufacturing PMI rose from 57.1 in March to 60.8 in April as larger multinationals boosted their activities and increased pass-through for inflation. This marks third consecutive month of increasing PMIs for the sector. Meanwhile, Irish Services PMI rose from 54.6 in March to 57.7 in April, marking second consecutive month of above 50 PMIs readings. 

In line with the above developments, official Composite PMI rose from 54.5 in March to 58.1 in April. 

Irish Construction Sector PMI, reported mid-month, was at 30.9 (significantly below 50.0, signaling strong rate of contraction in activity) in mid-April, a somewhat less rapid rate of decline relative to mid-March reading of 27.0. All in, Irish Construction Sector PMI has been sub-50 for four consecutive month now.

In contrast to Markit that publishes official Composite PMI, I calculate my own GVO-shares weighted index of economic activity across three sectors: my Three Sectors Index rose from 55.0 in March 2021 to 58.3 in April. 


In terms of inflation, Services PMI release states that "Cost pressures remained strong in April, linked by survey respondents to labour, insurance, fuel, shipping and UK customs. The rate of input price inflation eased slightly from March's 13-month high, however. To protect profit margins, service providers raised their charges for the second month running. The rate of charge inflation was the strongest since February 2020, albeit modest overall." The indications are that Irish services firms are operating in less competitive environment than their global counterparts, with stronger ability to pass through cost increases into their charges. However, this feature of Irish data most likely reflects the accounting complexity within major multinationals trading through Ireland. 

Similar situation is developing in Manufacturing: "Supply chains remain under severe pressure, with longer delivery times owing to new UK Customs arrangements, transport delays and raw materials shortages. These factors, combined with strengthening demand, are leading to a heightening of inflationary pressures. Input prices increased at their fastest pace in ten years, while output prices rose at a series-record pace."

All in, we are witnessing signs of continued inflationary pressures across a number of months now, with even multinationals - companies using Ireland as primarily a tax and regulatory arbitrage location for their activities - feeling the pressures. This is an indication that inflation is building up globally and, as time drags on, starting to feed through to final prices of goods and services.


7/4/21: Ireland PMIs for March: Growth and Inflation Pressures

 

Ireland PMIs for 1Q 2021 are out this week, so let's take a closer look at monthly activity data. 

  • March services PMI came in at a surprising 54.6 - up on 41.2 in February and 36.2 in January. Given the country is in a phase 5 lockdown, and there has been little change on that in recent months, the new reading is a bizarre one. Per Markit: "Three out of four monitored sub-sectors registered higher business activity in March. The strongest rate of expansion was in Financial Services, followed by Business Services and Technology, Media & Telecoms respectively. Activity in Transport, Tourism & Leisure declined for the eighth month running, but at the slowest rate since last August." A lot of hope-for vaccines and 'getting back to normal' as well as exports rise behind these figures. Services PMI is now at its highest reading since February 2020.
  • March Manufacturing PMI also performed well, rising to 57.1 from 52.0 in February. Manufacturing index has been more volatile in the pandemic than Services, so this rise is less of a surprise, given the global economic recovery and demand for Irish exports.
  • We do not have full March data for construction sector PMI, which is reported mid-month, so all we do have is mid-March reading of 27.0. 
Official Composite PMI published by Markit was pretty upbeat in march 2021, rising to 54.5 - signaling strong growth, having previously posted 47.2 in February and 40.2 in January 2021. My own, Three Sectors Activity index - a weighted average of three sectors PMIs based on their share of gross value added - rose even more sharply: from 41.8 in January and 45.0 in February to 55.0 in March. If Construction sector PMI were to come in on-trend mid-April, the Three Sectors Index will be closer to 55.1-55.2 range.


As an aside, it is worth noting that Irish economic activity is showing similar trend to global activity when it comes to inflationary pressures (see: https://trueeconomics.blogspot.com/2021/04/5421-heating-up-inflationary-risks.html). Per Markit: "March data indicated soaring cost pressures. The Composite Input Prices Index posted a record one-month gain and signalled the fastest rate of inflation since July 2008. Cost pressures were much stronger at manufacturers than service providers." In other words, even small open economies with massive distortions coming from the multinationals' financial and tax engineering sides are now showing signs of heating up inflation. 

26/8/20: Germany’s Exports Expectations: Some Bad News

 ifo Institute's latest exports expectations for Germany are out and the data is quite interesting:


Firstly, expectations moderated in August, compared to July, although on balance, there are still more positive sentiment responders as opposed to the negative ones. This moderation is surprising, because of the sharpness of prior COVID19-related collapse and because August saw more global relaxation of COVID19 restrictions. 

Secondly, it appears that expectations for exports growth are now starting to revert back to pre-COVID19 'norm' of anaemic growth. This can be best seen by looking at longer term expectations data:


For those nostalgically inclined, 2019 was a woeful year for global trade, as reflected in the 2019 average in the chart above. And this was before COVID19 pandemic. In fact, exports outlook has been deteriorating from around mid-2018, on. 

A return to the pre-COVID19 'normal', if confirmed, is not the good news, given that German exports did not recover from the knock-down they sustained during the COVID19 pandemic.


26/6/20: Trade Restrictions: European Companies


BOFIT newsletter out today highlights the scale of restrictive trade measures applicable to the EU exporters across a number of significant markets:


Of eleven countries included, three managed to lower trade and investment barriers applying to the EU companies over 2017-2019 period, two countries had unchanged barriers, and six showed increasing barriers to trade and investment. In a way, this reflects a shift away from trade and investment globalization focus on the last three decades toward more regionalized and even protectionist policies.

COVID19 pandemic is likely to accelerate this trend.