Dairy prices rise for third time; world factory data weak; China bond defaults catch attention; Aussie housing slides further; investors see Fed pause; UST 10yr 2.67%; oil and gold up; NZ$1 = 66.6 USc; TWI-5 = 71.3

Dairy prices rise for third time; world factory data weak; China bond defaults catch attention; Aussie housing slides further; investors see Fed pause; UST 10yr 2.67%; oil and gold up; NZ$1 = 66.6 USc; TWI-5 = 71.3

Here's our summary of key events over the holiday that affect New Zealand, with news of a jittery, uncertain start for 2019.

Firstly, we may all be on holiday, but there was another dairy auction overnight where 31,540 tonnes of product were on offer. 28,651 sold and weighted average prices rose +2.8%, the third rise in a row. WMP was up +1.2%, SMP rose an impressive +7.9% to its highest level in two years, and butter rose a strong +3.9%. Cheese was up as well. Converting these results to NZ dollars also saw a rise, at a stronger +5.7% because the Kiwi dollar is weaker today. But we are still lower that at the recent peak in May (-15%), and lower than the same time last year (-5.4%). At today's prices, we are still -9% below the GDT 10 year average. Today's rise won't much affect farm gate milk payout forecasts. But at least milk volumes are flowing strongly.

Meanwhile, there is still a drought of data from official sources in the US as the shutdown drags on. We were expecting detail on new home sales which were very weak last time they were available for October (-12% year-on-year). Markets are expecting a lesser decline for November, but we just don't know.

In fact, a US non-farm payrolls report for December is due to be released this Saturday, but that is clearly not going to happen now. Tomorrow's ADP survey will take on more importance this month as a market signal.

We do know about manufacturing PMIs however. The US reading in the comprehensive Markit survey was quite weak, coming in at a 15 month low on a new-order flow that is slowing sharply. And the Dallas Fed's survey was startlingly weak. Their general business activity index plummeted 23 points to -5.1, hitting its lowest level since mid-2016. The company outlook index also fell markedly, dropping 17 points to -3.4, also a two-and-a-half-year low. More than 20% of manufacturers noted their outlook worsened this month.

US vehicle sales won't be much part of the Dallas Fed index, but they are part of the overall US manufacturing base, and the first reports for December suggest levels weaker than for November and weaker than the same month a year ago.

Canada factory PMIs were weak also, and at a two year low.

Mexico's PMI's were in contraction territory in November and recorded another (small) contraction in December.

Likewise, China's factory PMI's have now slipped from a minor expansion to a minor contraction in their latest survey. Production was up marginally, but new orders fell, dragging their index lower.

And a small but rising flow of corporate bond defaults in China are gaining the attention of investors. The breathless doomsters (AEP for example) are overstating the trend, but although still tiny, it is something to watch, and is concerning. And now we learn that the Chinese central bank is to 'adjust' reserve ration levels to encourage more lending.

None of this helped the Shanghai stock market. Equities fell -1.1% yesterday, starting 2019 on a weak note. But that was restrained compared with Hong Kong, which fell -2.6%.

In Australia, their factory sector rounded off 2018 on a solid note, expanding moderately even if it was just a little slower than for November. Rising export orders are helping.

But their housing market isn't in such positive shape. Corelogic reports that housing market conditions ended the 2018 calendar year on a weak note, with the rate of decline consistently worsening over the year. National dwelling values were down -2.3% over the December quarter; the largest quarter on quarter decline since the December quarter of 2008.

That Chinese PMI data had a negative effect on the ASX200 which fell -1.6% yesterday.

Today on Wall Street, the S&P500 started out lower, but in mid-day trade is showing a minor gain (+0.4%). Still, global trade spats, rising interest rates and Brexit uncertainty have helped most stock indices to their worst year in a decade. Recession fears for 2019 could mean more significant drops, especially for tech stocks.

Investors are now betting that the US Fed will hold its policy rate at current levels, abandoning 2019 rate rises.

The UST 10yr yield is starting the New Year weakly, now at 2.67%, and -7 bps lower than where we left it on New Year's eve. Their 2-10 curve is slipping and now at +16 bps. The Australian Govt. 10yr is now a lot lower at 2.23% which is -14 bps below the New Year's eve level. The China Govt. 10yr is also sharply lower at 3.20% (-10 bps), while the New Zealand Govt. 10yr has held better at 2.39% and only -4 bps lower.

Gold is still rising and is now at US$1,283, another +US$6/oz gain. We haven't seen gold at this level since June 2018.

US oil prices are rising today by more than +US$1/bbl and are now at just over US$47/bbl while the Brent benchmark is just under US$55/bbl. OPEC output cuts have started.

The Kiwi dollar starts today noticeably lower against the greenback at 66.6 USc (!). On the cross rates we are at 95.2 AUc, and at 58.8 euro cents. That puts the TWI-5 down to 71.3.

Bitcoin is a little higher to start 2019 at US$3,845. This rate is charted in the exchange rate set below.

The easiest place to stay up with event risk today is by following our Economic Calendar here ».

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"Buy & Hold in China, oh my!
Buy-and-hold did a magic job in China. The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 24.6% in 2018, closing the year at 2,494. That’s quite an accomplishment. The index is down 52% from its last bubble-peak on June 12, 2015, and down 59% from its all-time bubble-peak in October 2007. It’s now back where it had first been in December 2006.

Here’s the magnificent double-bubble and the destruction it has wreaked on buy-and-hold investors. Note that the index would have to skyrocket by 150% just to get back to where it had been at the peak in 2007:

https://wolfstreet.com/2019/01/01/long-term-buy-hold-stocks-loses-in-lar...

China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reports that the country’s official manufacturing PMI in December 2018 dropped below 50 for the first time since the summer of 2016. Many if not most associate a number in the 40’s with contraction. While that may or not be the case, what’s more important is the quite well-established direction.

Coming in at 49.4 in December, it’s down in a straight line from 51.3 in August.
https://www.alhambrapartners.com/2018/12/31/more-unmixed-signals/

A prophetic interview with Sir James Goldsmith in 1994 Pt1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PQrz8F0dBI

Man, he was bang on wasn't he?

Really good link, ta.

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Crikey

Prophetic alright - the NZ Story in a nutshell - instead of shifting NZ businesses to the subcontinent and manufacturing where labour is dirt cheap - NZ does it in reverse - importing the labour instead

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AND we exported a bunch of the jobs. We f**ked ourselves both ways.

NAFTA decimated communities all thru the states and many have never recovered.

Just finished watching the Goldsmith interview. Goodness me! Immediately went to look at the US balance of trade history to match the discussion. It was stable till 1974, it began decreasing then but from the mid 90s when all the free trade deals started occurring and global trade picked up in earnest, the balance of trade fell off a cliff. So Laura Tyson (the woman arguing against Goldsmith) was utterly wrong.

and when we started borrowing to fill the hole.

Japan was closed yesterday? Exchange Day.

The Housing Bust in Sydney & Melbourne, Oh My

But it wasn’t the central bank that pricked the bubble; its interest rate is at a record low!
https://wolfstreet.com/2019/01/02/housing-bust-in-sydney-melbourne-gains...

Martin North and Peter Schiff. Time will tell, but they seem to be calling it.

Well Peter Schiff has been calling it for like 20 years. Only thing he ever says really. So of course every 10 years or so he's right.

Last time he said the US dollar would crash, it's value went up against other currencies, so you can't really rely on him.

yeah I know what you are saying. In truth, there are so many views that in hindsight, there is always one economist that has called it. And the one that did is hailed a genius, when in fact he as just lucky.

Don't know Schiff beyond 6 months or so, but he in this time he's been pretty much on the mark (bitcoin being one of those calls)..

Like Nouriel, he has been railing against bitcoin and saying investors would lose all their money etc, since bitcoin was about $30. Just like the property nay-sayers who were saying property will crash and never recover 10 years ago. Schiff is actually a gold bug (surprising that given he owns a gold selling business!!!!!). Until about 2 months go gold has been in a terrible 10 year bear market, so you would have done poorly to follow his advice.

...his bitcoin commentary has been that its based on nothing and will end up a nothing. Property/asset bubbles should have crashed years ago, but has been spruiked up by you know what.

So I wouldn't cane him on these calls.

Shaping up to be another fantastic year!

In other news it's good to see that the net neutrality rules thing has been stymied. Common sense prevailing for once. Just because it has neutrality in the title doesn't necessarily mean it is a good thing folks! People are so dumb though..

Agreed, Ajit Pai is an idiot who wants to kill internet access to ordinary American.

No, he wants the Internet to benefit from further investment in infrastructure by players who will do it for profit. It's just not going to develop properly unless companies are confident they can make money by investing in new technology. Consumers of the new technology will happily pay for it if it is good.

I don’t think you understand the issue. Net neutrality is about people (consumers) paying for a service - the internet - and the expecting all their traffic to reach them equally fast.

What the republican led FCC want to do is allow cable companies to then make content providers pay more with the threat of their content being throttled if they don’t.

Consumers have no control over this process. Because most places only have one or two cable companies it’s not like people have any choice. So if their cable company are being dicks there is nobody else to switch to.

The worst part is many states have laws forbidding publicly owned networks. So where a city gets annoyed at their cable company they can’t even develop a public network to compete.

The situation in the US is terrible and the only reason it persists is that republican voters are too old to understand the internet and how outrageous this is.

One of the worst policy mistakes in the USA and NZ is applying free market economic theory to markets that are clearly not competitive. In telecommunications we did it for a long time before our government woke up. Remember 20cents per text? Yeah that was because we let Telecom and Vodafone decide how much to charge each other. Economic theory tells us how a duopoly will operate but we pretend that the market is always right. When the price was regulated down, suddenly we all get unlimited text messages and unlimited minutes. The electricity sector has the same issues. Generation is clearly not a competitive market and yet we persist with a market model. We should have listened to David Shearer and kiwi power - the government buys all the power at different prices based on bids at the time its built and consumers pay a single low price. It would have been great but people were too thick to understand how it worked for consumers and stripped the generators of their market power.

Legendary comments, thanks Hardly

I'm not the only one who disagrees with this net neutrality thing, It's not like I'm a lone voice here, quite a few companies and experts are deeply concerned about it.

Haha, I’d be interested in a list of non cable/internet providers who are anti net neutrality.

Having said that though, one interesting thing I have read is that there is a pull up the ladder streategy here. I’ve read places that Netflix and Google might be advantaged from the removal of net neutrality. How you ask? Well, they have bucket loads of cash and when the ransomers (cable companies) come knocking they will be able to pay them off. But if you are a small emerging Netflix or YouTube competitor you won’t have the cash to pay the hostage takers. So it benefits incumbents and prevents new entrants into any data heavy internet businesses.

Here you go, from Wikipedia:

Opponents of net neutrality regulations include Internet service providers (ISPs), broadband and telecommunications companies, computer hardware manufacturers, economists, and notable technologists. Many of the major hardware and telecommunications companies specifically oppose the reclassification of broadband as a common carrier under Title II. Corporate opponents of this measure include Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, IBM, Intel, Cisco, Nokia, Qualcomm, Broadcom, Juniper, D-Link, Wintel, Alcatel-Lucent, Corning, Panasonic, Ericsson, Oracle, Akamai, and others.[116][117][118][119] The US Telecom and Broadband Association, which represents a diverse array of small and large broadband providers, is also an opponent.[120][121]

Nobel Memorial Prize-winning economist Gary Becker's paper titled, "Net Neutrality and Consumer Welfare", published by the Journal of Competition Law & Economics, argues that claims by net neutrality proponents "do not provide a compelling rationale for regulation" because there is "significant and growing competition" among broadband access providers.[122][123] Google Chairman Eric Schmidt states that, while Google views that similar data types should not be discriminated against, it is okay to discriminate across different data types—a position that both Google and Verizon generally agree on, according to Schmidt.[124][125] According to the Journal, when President Barack Obama announced his support for strong net neutrality rules late in 2014, Schmidt told a top White House official the president was making a mistake. Google once strongly advocated net-neutrality–like rules prior to 2010, but their support for the rules has since diminished; the company however still remains "committed" to net neutrality.[125][126]

Individuals who oppose net neutrality rules include TCP/IP inventor Bob Kahn,[127][128], Netscape founder Marc Andreessen,[129] Sun Microsystems founder Scott McNealy,[130] PayPal founders Peter Thiel and Max Levchin,[122][131] "Grandfather of the Internet" David Farber,[132][133] Internet pioneer David Clark,[134][135] packet switching pioneer Louis Pouzin,[136] MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte,[137] Nokia's CEO Rajeev Suri,[138] VOIP pioneer Jeff Pulver,[139] entrepreneur Mark Cuban[140] and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

Nobel Prize laureate economists who oppose net neutrality rules include Princeton economist Angus Deaton, Chicago economist Richard Thaler, MIT economist Bengt Holmström, and the late Chicago economist Gary Becker.[141][142] Others include MIT economists David Autor, Amy Finkelstein, and Richard Schmalensee; Stanford economists Raj Chetty, Darrell Duffie, Caroline Hoxby, and Kenneth Judd; Harvard economist Alberto Alesina; Berkeley economists Alan Auerbach and Emmanuel Saez; and Yale economists William Nordhaus, Joseph Altonji and Pinelopi Goldberg.[141]

Several civil rights groups, such as the National Urban League, Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH, and League of United Latin American Citizens, also oppose Title II net neutrality regulations,[143] who said that the call to regulate broadband Internet service as a utility would harm minority communities by stifling investment in underserved areas.[144][145]

The Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, told the Washington Post that it has a "complicated relationship" with net neutrality.[146] The organization partnered with telecommunications companies to provide free access to Wikipedia for people in developing countries, under a program called Wikipedia Zero, without requiring mobile data to access information. The concept is known as zero rating. Said Wikimedia Foundation officer Gayle Karen Young, "Partnering with telecom companies in the near term, it blurs the net neutrality line in those areas. It fulfills our overall mission, though, which is providing free knowledge."[147]

A number of other opponents created Hands Off The Internet,[148] a website created in 2006 to promote arguments against Internet regulation. Principal financial support for the website came from AT&T, and members included BellSouth, Alcatel, Cingular, and Citizens Against Government Waste.[149][150][151][152][153]

Robert Pepper, a senior managing director, global advanced technology policy, at Cisco Systems, and former FCC chief of policy development, says: "The supporters of net neutrality regulation believe that more rules are necessary. In their view, without greater regulation, service providers might parcel out bandwidth or services, creating a bifurcated world in which the wealthy enjoy first-class Internet access, while everyone else is left with slow connections and degraded content. That scenario, however, is a false paradigm. Such an all-or-nothing world doesn't exist today, nor will it exist in the future. Without additional regulation, service providers are likely to continue doing what they are doing. They will continue to offer a variety of broadband service plans at a variety of price points to suit every type of consumer".[154] Computer scientist Bob Kahn[155] has said net neutrality is a slogan that would freeze innovation in the core of the Internet.[128]

Farber has written and spoken strongly in favor of continued research and development on core Internet protocols. He joined academic colleagues Michael Katz, Christopher Yoo, and Gerald Faulhaber in an op-ed for the Washington Post strongly critical of network neutrality, essentially stating that while the Internet is in need of remodeling, congressional action aimed at protecting the best parts of the current Internet could interfere with efforts to build a replacement.[156]

Lol, I wonder what the common element in that list is. Let me thing. I’ve got it - vested interest.

They are either telecommunications providers - turkeys don’t vote for Christmas! Or hardware suppliers who would benefit from more duplication. I don’t see any actual consumers advocating for this change nor media companies who don’t also provide broadband.

You're not even trying to think about this Hardly. That list includes many Internet pioneers. We need less regulation not more regulation.

I got some more bad news, tourism in NZ is starting a downturn, this will be reported in 3 months time

Hi Yvil, thanks for that.

Source?

Guwop, I own motels, Backpackers and Airbnb houses in multiple locations in NZ. We just had the worst December in years and poor bookings for January so I spoke to other accommodation providers who confirmed the same.

with the dollar down i thought it would have headed the other way, how much of it do you put down to weakness overseas so people not spending and the other curly one too many tourists in NZ and reports going back about too crowded at venues ala
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-16/americans-sleep-in-ma...
https://www.dw.com/en/a-crowded-paradise-new-zealands-tourism-boom-faces...

Well its not the case on the streets..carparks here in Wellington overflowing with campers..perhaps its the Chinese now they cannot buy property time to go somewhere else?

Oh well, so much for landlords pulling their houses off the regular rental market and putting them on AirBnb then. :)

An unbelievable start to the fx new year.Staggering

It is insane today!

AUD-USD dropped from 69.7 to 67.4 in a few minutes!!!!!!!!!!

What was that about?

Yes, flash crash. Look at the JPY crosses. Yen reacting more than the gold price. Anyone who follows currencies will understand that this is not a sign of positivity.

Anyone who's been in 'one of these' knows how terrifying it is. It's not just 'numbers on a screen' anymore.
That parcel of 50 (million) that your favourite, 'trusted' client just gave you at 70 cents ( he did the same to another 10 or 20 people at the same time without letting on!), is now worth whatever the next bid; ANY bid might be, and at 68 cents, you're $1,500,000 down on that deal alone; let alone anything else you had on the go - with no apparent way out.
Lives are changed by this sort of happening. Both ways; A few are made and many more are destroyed, in seconds...

Here are some fascinating and seemingly well informed opinions based on geopolitics. Will Australia, Britain, Canada and the USA become closer? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc1cpfVn2rg

iPhone Sales Croak, China’s Economy Deteriorating Faster than Expected, Apple Warns. Shares Plunge
“We did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration.” Oh dude, starting the year out on the right foot.
On Wednesday after the market closed, Apple released a letter to shareholders in which it said that revenues are going to be a lot worse in the quarter ended December 29 than its guidance two months ago, that iPhone revenues have dropped year-over-year, that China’s economic problems are deeper than expected, and that iPhone revenues are hurting elsewhere too.
https://wolfstreet.com/2019/01/02/iphone-sales-croak-china-particularly-...

Aussie treasurer enters panic mode about house prices. Calls for "all hands on deck" from the banks to stimulate lending. You couldn't make this s*&t up. Of course, most people should know that this is not really about house prices, it's about the perceived impact on consumer spending and how they want the existing govt's legacy to be perceived.

https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_5985357926001

Why would they intervene? I mean I know why they want to intervene but you need to allow the correction. If you try and prop up asset prices the next correction will just be more severe.

I see the difference between the US 1yr and 10yr treasuries is down to 0.03%.. and eveything between is lower.. 2,3,5 and 7 year all less than the 1year

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The Aussie house prices news is a major especially SYD. There is no doubt about it now it’s in crash mode. This will ripple into AKL and NZ and anyone still denying this now is a utter lunatic.

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...NZ Herald must be due to run one of their stories .... the 23 yrd old with 20 properties and a porsche type drivel. It'll be all to the pump on the 7th.

they ran a story about hosking and hawkesby instead
https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/homed/latest/109707637/hosking-and-ha...

In what some have suggested is a chained liquidation stemming from the collapse of AAPL shares after-hours, multiple FX pairs are flash-crashing across the globe amid still low liquidity conditions in what appears to have been the unwind of a pair trade where an AAPL long was "hedged" with a basket of FX carry longs.
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-01-02/multiple-fx-pairs-suddenly-fla...

This is phenomenal, even if it's communicated by ZH and that 99% of the population would shrug their shoulders.

Is there any chance this could be a deliberate move by china? taking advantage of the low liquidity to get a bit of holiday panic going? Scare the Trump back to the negotating tbale kind of thing?
I have no idea how much money would need to be traded at once to trigger this sort of action in the holiday season.

The Japanese were on holiday weren't they? Somebody left hid password were the kids could find it?

..is this part of a campaign to get the Fed to back off?

David P Goldman in Asia Times thinks that the Fed will 'backtrack out of a [Deflation] minefield'. Of course, if the mine-laying has continued in the meantime......

Most analysts have tended to dismiss the collapse in inflation expectations as a one-off event due to a drop in the oil price. But what if the drop in the oil price is not the result of supply and demand imbalances, but reflects a tightening of credit conditions leading to deflation?

Are they "analysts" or simply fantasists?? There was barely any inflation after almost a decade of barely any inflation.

talking about inflation, have you bought that house yet?

AndrewJ. Nope. Why are you asking? Is this an attempt at saltiness?

I figure when you buy a house it will be on a falling market

Yeah, that's a distinct possibility. We've sold up everything recently and just sitting twiddling our thumbs with a load of cash. . There is nothing whatsoever on the market we are interested in atm but we realise if something comes up that we really want, we may lose value on it later. We captured a huge amount of capital gain on other assets over the last 5 years so mustn't grumble. If we were buying in Auckland I would worry more, but I honestly don't think Wellington is particularly overpriced. I consider the recent price escalation to be catch up growth after nearly a decade of flat prices. But as we're also looking for a house in need of a major renovation or maybe even a knock down and rebuild, we will add a lot of value for ourselves with that hopefully. But if there is a global financial Armageddon incoming though, all bets are off!

I would imagine a time will come when you are obviously better off to buy than rent. I just don't know what will happen around the new tax changes regards housing or even what chance they have of being implemented.

Andrewj last year, we had a property in the UK earning a really great yield (our ex home) so it was better financially for us to rent in NZ and have various other investments with our savings. Also, getting to know Wellington and settle in a new country and trying out different locations has been priceless. However, once we'd sold the UK house and cashed up other investments it has now become much better for us to own rather than rent. We have funds enough to buy a house cash, so will have no mortgage interest. I know some people will think we are mad to consider doing that ("the magic of leverage" and the opportunity cost of doing other stuff with the money etc) but what is the point of money other than giving your security, stability and happiness? We have two young kids, we want a family home and no mortgage to worry about. Everyone's financial situation is different, some people could be wiped out by buying at the wrong time, but we will be fine even in a really bad economic scenario.

Plus then an even bigger chunk of our income will be disposable and we can save and invest that. We have zero debt. But there is definitely a risk that house prices could slide and that we could otherwise have spent our cash waiting out the market longer and buying at cycle bottom in property and shares. As it stands now there is record low inventory in Wellington so nothing we would want to buy and live in anyway. But if the perfect property opportunity comes up we are likely to buy.

Building in NZ is like opening the biggest can of worms you ever saw, I've done it twice. Now I think I'd just buy a good house but then I'm older, if I was younger and wanted something special it would be different. I keep thinking the past isn't going to be an indicator of future trends but all my knowledge was earned in the past. I'm getting very conservative, especially now it looks like Mr market is going to be demanding higher interest and wheres that going to come from?

Andrewj oh yeah, I haven't heard differently from a single person who has built a house in NZ! My brother in law and parents in law have both just finished building a home too and my dreams have certainly soured further hearing about their experiences!

In the two years that i have been looking at houses in Wellington I haven't seen any houses that I would consider "good", in the sense that they were renovated in a style that I liked, were within our price range, the right location or ticking various other boxes in regards to parking, storage, earthquake safety etc etc. I love Wellington and I love living here, but it has an extremely complicated housing market and compromised housing stock! In addition, both my husband and I, are extremely particular about what we want.

We've both moved around a lot, we've both worked and saved like crazy and we've both made many compromises with property purchases before. But now we want a long term house that ticks most of our boxes. The only way we think we can do that is to buy an old house in the right location, that is in really banged up shape and spend a couple of hundred thousand doing it up ourselves. I have yet to see an old house in a good location that has been renovated in a way that I would be happy with and we don't want to pay for someone else's renovation or style. So we are just waiting and twiddling our thumbs!

I think the past is usually as excellent predictor of future in terms of human behaviour. The problem is, all the variables that humans are responding to. We are rarely ever aware of all the factors and influences at any one time. And many of the variables (now in effec)t have never occurred before (ie level of globalisation and market synchronisation, speed of communication, QE, sustained global historically low interest rates etc). We've had plenty of asset bubbles, periods of instability and wealth inequality before but Mr Market is a stranger to me at the moment. I have no sense of what he will demand. I think there are several perfectly possible scenarios that could play out. Almost all are bad to a greater or less extent. Some are awful and only a few are even remotely positive. If the massive pile of debt governments, corporations and households have is somehow managed and we see a "beautiful deleveraging" I will be very surprised indeed.

A gong for Danske Bank -https://www.occrp.org/en/poy/