Separating noise from reality

Last week a lack of any major developments allowed us the time to look closer at some of the economic data of the last few weeks.

It has reminded us that we ought to do this more often and ignore the headlines all together. Italy is currently in its third recession in a decade while Germany’s economy shrank in the third quarter of 2018 and stagnated in the fourth quarter.

While it will likely avoid an all-out recession, a global slowdown and retrenchment in world trade is taking its toll. Britain is also slowing down, with growth forecasts cut by 0.5%, although still at a comparatively healthy 1.2%.

Elsewhere the US remains resilient. Despite the longest shutdown in government history, the US economy added a staggering 312,000 jobs in December, exceeding expectations, and is still forecast to grow more than 2% despite the Fed applying the brakes last year. Contrast these numbers to the amount of news coverage and market returns and you’d be forgiven for thinking they were from an alternative universe.