Geo-Economics and Politics

US jobs and Eurozone inflation: What you need to know about the global economy this week

People inside an ALDI store in Essen, Germany, 5 March 2021.

Food prices have been a driver in pushing Eurozone inflation to record highs. Image: REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay//File Photo

Joe Myers
Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • This weekly round-up brings you the latest stories from the world of economics and finance.
  • Top economy stories: Eurozone inflation hits record high; Global factory output weakens; US job openings fall.

Economy stories from around the globe

German imports grew more than expected in August – up 3.4% – with exports also up slightly more than predicted, rising by 1.6%.

Inflation in Thailand was less than expected in September, slowing from the previous month but still remaining above target at 6.41%.

Philippine annual inflation increased to 6.9% in September – its fastest pace in 4 years.

New Zealand's central bank has raised interest rates to a seven-year high. The bank's policy committee lifted its official cash rate by 50 basis points to 3.5%.

Australia also raised its interest rates – although by less than expected.

South Korean inflation slowed for a second month in September. Economists say this suggests that inflation is at or past its peak, but believe the country's central bank is still likely to raise interest rates next week.

Inflation in Indonesia hit its highest rate since October 2015 last month, largely driven by higher transportation costs following a fuel price hike.

US job openings fell by their biggest margin in nearly two-and-a-half years in August. This suggests that the labour market is starting to cool as the economy grapples with higher interest rates intended to dampen demand and tame inflation.

Sierra Leone's central bank has raised its benchmark interest rate by 100 basis points to 17%, in an effort tackle the pressure of inflation.

Global bond funds faced their biggest outflows in two decades in the first three quarters of this year, as hefty interest rate increases by central banks to counter inflation sparked fears of a recession.

Inflation in the Netherlands hit a record high in September, largely as a result of energy prices, the Dutch statistics agency has said.

Ratings agency Fitch has lowered the outlook for its credit rating for British government debt to "negative" from "stable". It follows the UK government's fiscal statement on 23 September, which led to some government bonds tumbling and sterling falling to a record low against the US dollar.

Central banks ramp up fight against inflation
How central banks are responding to rapid inflation. Image: Reuters Graphics
Have you read?

World factory output weakens in September

Global factory output mostly declined in September, as slowing demand added to persistent cost pressures and tighter monetary policy.

The data clouds the outlook for a sustained recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reports. It could also add to concerns of a global slowdown as major central banks embark on the most aggressive round of interest rate rises in decades to try and tackle soaring inflation.

Those rate hikes have stoked fears of a sharp downturn in global demand, which would hit exports.

Manufacturing activity across the Eurozone declined further last month as a growing cost-of-living crisis kept consumers wary while surging energy bills limited production.

S&P Global's final manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index for the bloc fell to a 27-month low of 48.4 in September from August's 49.6. Scores below 50 represent contraction, and the more the score falls below 50 the greater the level of contraction.

Manufacturing activity also shrank in Malaysia and grew at a slower pace in Japan, India and Viet Nam last month. Data for China's factory and services output also suggest further cooling.

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Eurozone inflation hits record high

Inflation in the Eurozone climbed to 10.0% in September – a new record high that's reinforced expectations for another significant increase in interest rates this month from the European Central Bank.

Price growth in the 19 countries sharing the euro accelerated from 9.1% in August, data from EU statistics agency Eurostat showed. Some Eurozone members saw their fastest price growth since the 1950s.

Inflation was still driven mainly by volatile energy and food prices, but it continued to broaden out, with virtually all categories – from services to industrial goods – showing high readings.

"The September reading for inflation is ugly across the board, with all broad categories experiencing accelerating inflation," ING economist Bert Colijn told Reuters. "This seals the deal on another 75-basis-point hike from the European Central Bank in October."

Euro area annual inflation and its main components September 2012-September 2022
Inflation in the Eurozone. Image: Eurostat

Economics research to read this week

New data explores Eurozone government bonds, and is covered in a VoxEU column.

A new NBER working paper looks at productivity growth in the US before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

US business sector output and labor productivity gaps, 2005-19
A historical look at US productivity. Image: NBER

How can we tackle stagflation? This VoxEU piece looks at one possible option for Europe.

The global food crisis demands rapid action, write Kristalina Georgieva, Sebastián Sosa, Björn Rother for the IMF.

Millions more people face hunger globally as food prices spike.
The global food crisis requires urgent action. Image: IMF
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Geo-Economics and PoliticsEconomic GrowthFinancial and Monetary Systems
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