Haver Analytics
Haver Analytics

Economy in Brief: September 2022

  • Financial instability has risen meaningfully over the past few days as global equity markets have slumped to new lows for this year while US bond yields have spiked to new highs. As our first chart this week underscores, more hawkish rhetoric and policy activism from central banks – and the Fed in particular – have been key triggers for these moves. Another trigger, however, can be traced to the UK, where heightened concerns about debt sustainability and inflation have – as our second chart suggests – perhaps unsurprisingly soured demand for UK assets. Higher US interest rates appear to now be souring the outlook for the housing market too, as evidenced in our third chart this week. As for Europe, our fourth and fifth charts this week underscore how its dependence on Russian energy remains a key source of downside risk for the economy. Finally, Asia’s heavy dependence on world trade and lingering pandemic restrictions are additionally taking their toll on regional GDP growth, as evidenced in our final chart this week.

    • Spending gain mostly reflects higher prices.
    • Income increases, but wage growth slows.
    • Prices rise moderately as core inflation surges.
    • Production and new orders plummeted during September.
    • Employment weakened and supplier delivery speeds eased.
    • Price index softened.
  • Inflation in the Euro Zone continues to move ahead fast enough to churn up a cloud of dust. In September, the flash HICP for the monetary union rose by 1.1% taking the 12-month increase up to a 10% pace underlining the problems of inflation that lingers in the European Monetary Area. The September figure was an escalation from 0.6% increase in August in a 0.7% increase in July. However, all those numbers are excessive compared to the inflation target of around 2% at the ECB runs.

    Sequentially inflation's trend is still somewhat ambivalent at a 9.7% annual rate over 3-months, up from an 8.3% annual rate over 6-months but that's down from the 10% annual rate over 12-months. The trend for inflation is not cemented, however, these three growth rates for prices are all exceptionally high and the 3-month inflation rate does exceed the 6-month inflation rate leaving little for optimism as far as the inflation trend is concerned.

    In Germany, the inflation rate rose by 2.4% in September from a 0.8% increase in August and after a 0.6% increase in July. The sequential growth rates for Germany show a 16.2% annual rate over the recent 3-months up from a 10.6% pace over 6-months and that compares to an 11% annual rate over 12-months. Inflation in Germany has really heated up and stayed hot.

    Some deceleration outside Germany For France, inflation was flat in September; it rose by 0.1% in August, and by 0.5% in July. The sequential growth rates have disinflation in play with prices rising at a 6.2% pace over 12-months, falling off to a rise at a 5.3% pace over 6-months and down to a pace of 2.5% over 3-months. France shows clear deceleration in the pace of headline inflation.

    Prices in Italy rose by 0.6% in September, the HICP index gained 1.2% in August and 0.2% the month before that, in July. Italian sequential inflation also is deflating as annual rates of increase progress from a 9.6% pace over 12-months to a 9% pace over 6-months to an 8.4% annual rate over 3-months.

    Spanish prices backtracked with the HICP price index falling by 0.5% in September after rising 0.3% the month before and 0.9% the month before that in July. Sequentially, Spanish inflation is also decelerating; it cooks at a 9.3% annual rate over 12-months but then slides to 4.3% pace over 6-months and runs at a 3.2% annual rate over the most recent 3-month period.

    Environmental factors Apart from the headline and, apart from Germany, there are clear signs of inflation decelerating in the European Monetary Union. And that's probably because growth is slowing down and because there are concerns about energy availability as well as uncertainty over the ongoing war in Ukraine. There are lots of things to worry about to undermine confidence. Consumer confidence has weakened sharply in countries that have released early consumer confidence figures. Most importantly, commodity price pressures are easing. The situation in Europe is difficult and we also see it in the currency market where the dollar has been rising strongly against the European currency, the euro, as well as against the British pound-that has its own special problems.

  • The EU Commission index for EMU in September fell to 93.7 from 97.3 in August. This is another sharp monthly drop as the index has fallen to its 26.7 percentile. That means the index has been weaker than this only about 26% of the time.

    All the sector assessments in the month have weakened. The industrial reading fell to zero from +1, consumer confidence fell to -28.8 from -25, the retailing reading fell to -8 from -7, construction fell to + 2 from +3, and the services reading fell to + 5 from +8.

    The percentile standings for the sectors are low as well; the industrial sector reading is firm with a 70th percentile ranking. The one strong reading on the table is for the small construction sector which has an 87.4 percentile ranking. Retailing comes in with a ranking above its median at 53.0. However, the consumer confidence ranking shows that that index is at the weakest level that it has seen on this time horizon. And the all-important services sector that is the major job creator has the 37.8% standing, well below its median. Rankings below their 50% mark are below the medians for each of these rank metrics.

    An assessment of changes across all EU members shows that declines in the last three months have been extremely broad-based with a month-to-month increase being the exception rather than the rule. Only three countries showed month to month increases for their overall indices in September, in August only two showed increases and in July only three showed increases -this among a total monthly count of 18 changes The country rank standing is extremely weak as well. Only Greece and Cyprus have country level indices with standings above their historic medians (above 50%). All the other countries in the table show EU index readings that stand below their historic medians. This is widespread weakness. Nine countries have ranking below their 20th percentile. Another seven are below their 40th percentile (and above their 20th percentile).

    In addition, all countries show changes in their EU indices that reveal weakness compared to their January 2020 levels before the COVID virus struck. All the sector metrics how below their January 2020 levels except for the industrial sector that is higher by 5 points. The overall EMU metric is lower on balance by 11 points.

    Pooling all these signals together, what we see is an area in which the index standings are weak. They are weak across the board for nearly all countries. Readings are weak or moderate in most sectors. The readings are extremely weak in the job creating sector. And there has been substantial weakening in recent months.

    • Consumer spending revised slightly higher.
    • Business spending revised lower.
    • Corporate profits increased modestly.
    • Price index raised.
    • Smallest number of initial claims since mid-April.
    • Continued weeks claimed fall again.
    • Insured unemployment rate holds at 1%.
    • Sales are lowest since April 2020.
    • Sales decline in most of the country.