Category Archives: Brics

14/2/16: Ifo WorldEconomic Climate Index: 1Q 2016

Global growth leading indicators are screaming it, Baltic Dry Index is screaming it, PMIs are screaming it, BRICS are living it, and now Ifo surveys are showing it: global economy is heading into a storm.

The latest warning is from the Ifo World Economic Climate Index.

Per Ifo release: “The Ifo Index for the world economy dropped from 89.6 points to 87.8 points this quarter, drifting further from its long-term average (96.1 points). While assessments of the current economic situation brightened marginally, expectations were less positive than last quarter. The sharp decline in oil prices seems to be having no overall positive economic impact. Growth in the world economy continues to lack impetus.”

In numbers, thus:

  • Headline World Economic Climate Index is now averaging 88.7 over the two quarters through 1Q 2016, which is statistically below 97.7 average for the 2 quarters through 3Q 2015 and 93.2 average for 4 quarters through 1Q 2016. Current 2 quarters average is way lower than 8 quarters average of 98.4. Historical average is 94.9, but when one considers only periods of robust economic growth, the index average is 98.9. Again, current 2 quarters average is significantly below that.
  • Present Situation sub-index 2 quarters average is at 87.0, which is woefully lower than 2 quarters average through 3Q 2015 at 91.6 and is well below 96.0 average for the historical series covering periods of robust economic expansions.
  • Expectations for the next 6 months sub-index is at 90.4 on the 2 quarters average basis, down from 103.5 2 quarters average through 3Q 2015 and below historical (expansion periods only) average of 101.5.

Geographically, per Ifo release: “The economic climate deteriorated in all regions, except in Oceania, Asia and Latin America. In Oceania the climate index stabilised at a low level, and in Asia and Latin America it edged upwards. The indicator is now below its long-term average in all regions, with the exception of Europe. The climate in the CIS states and the Middle East clouded over, especially due to poorer economic expectations. In Europe WES experts are slightly less positive about future economic developments than in October 2015. In North America and Africa, by contrast, the slightly less favourable economic situation led to a deterioration in the economic climate.”

You can see my analysis of the European index data here:

6/1/16: Debt Pile: BRICS v BRIS

When it comes to debt pile for the real economic debt (Government, private non-financial corporates and households), China seems to be in the league of its own:

Per chart above, China’s debt is approaching 250 percent of GDP, with second-worst BRICS performer - Brazil - sitting on a smaller pile of debt closer to 140 percent of GDP. The distance between Brazil and the less indebted economies of South Africa and India is smaller yet - at around 12-14 percentage points. Meanwhile, the least indebted (as of 1Q 2015) BRICS economy - Russia - is nursing a debt pile of just over 90 percent of GDP, and, it is worth mention - the one that is shrinking due to financial markets sanctions.

17/5/15: Two Asias and the U.S. European Incentives

If you want to see the context to the ongoing geopolitical re-distribution of power that is threatening the world order, do not look at the margins of the European realm, like Ukraine. Look at Asia.

Here is an excellent discourse that supports the thesis of the emergence of two Asia:

  • Asia dominated (already) economically by China; and
  • Asia dominated (for now) military-wise and geopolitically by the U.S.

Europe has already decoupled with the U.S. on the issue of Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, while BRICS have decoupled from the U.S. on a vast range of initiatives. But European signals of willingness to engage with the new Asia are going to continue being half-hearted, principally because of the second bullet point above - economic cooperation will not resolve the growing tension on geopolitical stage. Sooner or later, the U.S. dominance in Asia Pacific will be weakened to the point of the Western block playing a second (albeit not insignificant, by any means) role.

There are two levers for retaining direct and active links to the Asia Pacific centre of power that are currently available to Europe: India and Russia. Alas, both are lost to Europeans for now, one for the reason of perpetual neglect and the other for the reason of perpetual antagonisation.

Oh, and one last piece of 'food for thought' breakfast: as the U.S. is being squeezed in Asia Pacific, is it more or less likely that the U.S. will need to amplify cohesion of its allies around the Atlantic? And if you think the answer to this question is 'more likely' (as I do), what other means can the U.S. find to doing so other than by playing centuries old angsts across EU's Eastern borders?