Friday, November 11, 2016

Trump may signal major policy shift; Opec oil gushes ahead of talks; Chinese splurge in world's biggest shopping event

1 Trump may signal major policy shift (Andrew Walker on BBC) The new US President-elect Donald Trump could be signalling a major shift in economic policy. He wants tax cuts and increased spending on infrastructure. In other words more stimulus to the economy from the government budget.

Could that mean less for the Federal Reserve to do in supporting the recovery? That in turn could mean a more rapid return to normal interest rates. The aftermath of the financial crisis was an important part of the background to Mr Trump's election success.

The subsequent recovery has not been particularly strong. Many Americans, especially in former industrial areas, have felt that it has passed them by. The Fed has maintained a policy of ultra-low interest rates.

The Fed also ran a programme of "quantitative easing", buying financial assets with newly-created money. That may have helped add to the downward pressure on interest rates paid by businesses and households.

Perhaps Donald Trump's election signals a new direction. Infrastructure spending is something to which he is committed and so are tax cuts. That means more borrowing by government - unless he really does manage to double the rate of economic growth, as he said he would, presumably on the strength of his plans to reduce business regulation.

On the face of it, Mr Trump's plans so far suggest a stimulus to the US economy from the Federal government budget. That means the Federal Reserve is likely to feel less need to continue providing its own stimulus in the form of its exceptionally low interest rates.

2 Opec oil gushes ahead of talks (Gulf News) Opec has said that it pumped oil at record levels last month even though the group aims to agree a production cut in less than three weeks in an effort to boost prices.

The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed in September in Algiers to trim production but the accord still has to be finalised on November 30 in Vienna. In its November monthly report, Opec said that its 14 members pumped 33.64 million barrels a day (m bpd) in October, 236,000 barrels more than in September.

Saudi Arabia’s output fell 51,700 bpd to 10.5 m bpd but Iraq and Iran, the next biggest producers, registered increases, as did Libya and Nigeria, the report said. Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch foe, in particular is keen to keep the taps open following the lifting of international sanctions under last year’s landmark nuclear deal.

3 Chinese splurge in world’s biggest shopping event (Benjamin Haas in The Guardian) Chinese consumers were expected to spend $20bn in the Singles’ Day shopping splurge that claims to be the world’s biggest shopping event.

In less than seven minutes after midnight on Friday, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said 10bn yuan ($1.47bn) of products had already been sold through its platforms as consumers indulged the now annual celebration of the country’s lonely hearts.

Three years ago it took Alibaba six hours to reach that number. Less than halfway into the day this year, sales surpassed last year’s total, the company said on its blog. Analysts expect $20bn in sales, smashing 2015’s record haul of $14.4bn, in a day that has eclipsed both Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two biggest shopping days in the US.

The majority of that money goes to the brands and sellers, with Alibaba making profit on a small commission and fees from advertising. The company flew in David and Victoria Beckham and Kobe Bryant to make appearances and the band One Republic to perform at a televised gala in Shenzhen. Last year, a bewildered-looking Daniel Craig, introduced as James Bond, was a gala highlight.

The shopping day was supposedly started by university students in the 1990s, celebrating their bachelordom by buying themselves presents, while November 11 – double eleven – was chosen for its collection of lonely ones. When Alibaba launched the annual online sale on Singles’ Day 2009, just 27 merchants took part, offering steep discounts for a 24-hour period.

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