Charting the Global Economy: Fed, ECB Policies May Diverge

The Federal Reserve and European Central Bank forged ahead with interest-rate hikes this week, though Washington policymakers signaled they’re in the final round of their inflation fight.

(Bloomberg) — The Federal Reserve and European Central Bank forged ahead with interest-rate hikes this week, though Washington policymakers signaled they’re in the final round of their inflation fight.

The tale of the tape: ECB President Christine Lagarde acknowledged there is “more ground to cover” and the central bank isn’t pausing because of “significant” inflation. Fed Chair Jerome Powell hinted officials may have room to stand pat and assess the impact of their policy tightening against a backdrop of stress in the banking system. 

Here are some of the charts that appeared on Bloomberg this week on the latest developments in the global economy:


Besides hikes by the Fed and ECB, Australia signaled further policy tightening ahead after unexpectedly raising interest rates. Norway’s central bank lifted borrowing costs to the highest level since 2008 and signaled more to come. The Czech central bank kept its benchmark rate at 7%, Malaysia unexpectedly boosted its rate and Brazil held rates steady, resisting calls from the government for looser policy.

Oyu Tolgoi, in southern Mongolia just north of the Chinese border, is key to Rio Tinto Group’s efforts to expand in copper, the metal that underpins the clean energy transition. But analysts at Wood Mackenzie estimate a greener world will be short about six million tons of copper by next decade, meaning 12 new Oyu Tolgois need to come online within that period. BloombergNEF estimates appetite for refined copper will grow by 53% by 2040, but mine supply will climb only 16%. 


Powell hinted the Fed’s latest interest-rate increase could be the last one, but stopped short of declaring victory on its battle against rapid price increases. The Fed chief said there was strong support for raising rates by 25 basis points. But he suggested officials may pause their tightening campaign in June to assess how the economy is responding to tighter credit conditions and recent stress in the banking sector.

Anyone looking for signs of an imminent downturn for the US economy won’t find it in the latest employment data. That’s the takeaway from the latest monthly jobs numbers, which showed an acceleration in hiring and pay gains last month as working-age Americans continued streaming back into the labor market.

Washington’s ability to avert a catastrophic US debt default risks coming down to as few as seven days in May, underscoring the enormous threat of the ongoing partisan impasse. Time is short and it’s unlikely the two parties will strike a grand bargain before the potential X-date advised by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen — raising the likelihood of a short-term fix.

American consumers are still eager to spend, giving companies that cater to them room to push through more price increases. That’s a key takeaway midway through earnings season. Companies in the consumer staples segment, which includes such household names as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and Hershey, stood out, with 90.5% reporting first-quarter results through May 2 that beat analyst expectations, versus 80% for the entire S&P 500.


The ECB delivered the smallest interest-rate increase yet in its battle with persistently strong inflation but insisted that the move won’t be the last. Officials raised the deposit rate by a quarter-point to 3.25%, the highest since 2008. In what may be seen as a concession to hawkish officials, to win their backing for the smaller rate increase, the ECB also said it expects to halt reinvestments under its Asset Purchase Program as of July.

Britain’s economy is showing signs of unexpected resilience, firming up the case for another interest-rate increase. Figures on inflation expectations also indicated firms expect an even sharper rise in their own prices over the next year.

Britain’s acute housing shortage, snarled planning departments and local protectionism are combining to divide a nation where homeownership was once seen as a rite of passage. But beyond the thorny issues is a quieter reality: a decade of budget cuts have left local governments with too few people to keep up with approving new homes.


China’s economic recovery remains patchy, with latest indicators pointing to a contraction in manufacturing, while consumers splurge over the holidays and the housing market continues to rebound. Purchasing managers’ indexes showed an unexpected decline in factory activity in April, weighed down by weaker global demand for Chinese exports.

Emerging Markets

The International Monetary Fund expects Saudi Arabia won’t balance its budget if oil is below $80 a barrel, a revision that means the kingdom will move back into fiscal deficit after its first surplus in almost a decade.

–With assistance from Abeer Abu Omar, Matthew Boesler, Enda Curran, Steven T. Dennis, James Fernyhough, John Liu, Yujing Liu, Jonnelle Marte, Reade Pickert, Jana Randow, Tom Rees, Zoe Schneeweiss, Damian Shepherd and Alexander Weber.

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