Book Bits | 16 February 2019

Trade and American Leadership: The Paradoxes of Power and Wealth from Alexander Hamilton to Donald Trump
By Craig VanGrasstek
Summary via publisher (Cambridge University Press)
From the days of Alexander Hamilton to the trade wars of Donald Trump, trade policy has been a key instrument of American power and wealth. The open trading system that the United States sponsored after the Second World War serves US interests by promoting cooperation and prosperity, but also allows the allies to become more independent and China to rise. The case studies in Trade and American Leadership examine how the value of preferential trade programs is undercut by the multilateral liberalization that the United States promoted for generations, and how trade sanctions tend either to be too economically costly to impose or too modest to matter. These problems are exacerbated by a domestic political system in which the gains from trade are unevenly distributed, power is fragmented, and strategies are easily undermined. Trade and American Leadership places special emphasis on today’s challenges, and the rising danger of economic nationalism.
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Weak Retail Spending In December Weighs On US Q4 GDP Outlook

The unexpected drop in retail sales in December has raised uncertainty about the upcoming report on fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP). Prior to yesterday’s update on consumer spending for the final month of 2018 most estimates of the Q4 economic activity reflected moderate growth in the mid-to-high 2% range. But the St. Louis Fed’s GDPNow model slashed the Q4 outlook to a sluggish 1.5% after the release of retail sales data. That GDP estimate is an outlier on the downside at the moment. The question is whether nowcasts from other sources will fall in the days ahead as the latest retail data factors into the calculus?
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Macro Briefing: 15 February 2019

Congress sends legislation to Trump to avoid shutdown: Bloomberg
Legal challenges await Trump’s decision to call a nat’l emergency: Reuters
US-China trade talks set to continue, but no deal so far: SCMP
As federal debt rises to record, politicians are mum: NY Times
China’s banks lend record amount in Jan in bid to stimulate economy: Reuters
Amazon cancels plans to build a New York City headquarters: WSJ
US jobless claims rose last week, remaining at relatively elevated level: Bloomberg
Business inventories in US slipped in November: MW
Producer price index for US fell for a second month in January: Reuters
US retail spending fell sharply in December–biggest slide in over 9 years: CNBC

Macro Briefing: 14 February 2019

Washington waits to see if Trump will sign law and avert gov’t shutdown: CNN
Trump considering 60-day extension for China tariff deadline: CNBC
Germany’s economic performance was flat in 2018’s Q4: Bloomberg
China reports better-than-expected news on trade data for Jan: CNBC
House passes bill to end US support of Saudi Arabria’s war in Yemen: The Hill
Business inflation expectations in Feb eased to 1.9%: Atlanta Fed
Headline consumer inflation slowed to a 1.6% annual pace for US in Jan: MW

Macro Briefing: 13 February 2019

Trump considers delay on China tariffs set for March 2: CNBC
China’s President Xi to meet US trade officials on Friday: SCMP
Trump will agree to spending plan to avert shutdown… maybe: Politico
Fed Chair Powell: US economy remains “strong”: MNI
Eurozone industrial output’s slide accelerated in December: Reuters
Rising global oil supply on track to outpace demand in 2019: Reuters
UK inflation fell to 2-year low in January: Reuters
Small US business optimism fell to lowest level since late-2016: NFIB
US job openings rise to record high (since 2000) in Dec: CNBC

Macro Briefing: 12 February 2019

Congressional legislators announce deal to avert gov’t shutdown: Politico
Will Trump accept less than he’s demanded for border wall? Bloomberg
Upbeat outlook on trade supports market sentiment: Reuters
China’s economic slowdown is modest but widespread: WSJ
Proxy voting records: big money managers favor short-term corp proposals: II
The evidence is weak in favor of factor timing for equity investing: ETF.com
The idea of a Federal wealth tax is topical, but is it constitutional? New York
Wall Street analysts have been cutting corporate earnings projections: NY Times