Real Time Economics: Dollar Strengthens as Turkey’s Troubles Rattle Currency Markets

This is the web version of the WSJ’s newsletter on the economy. You can sign up for daily delivery here. Good morning! Today we look at a wild ride for currency markets, the economic outlook for the U.S., U.K. and Japan, and one high-class problem for a resurgent manufacturing sector—American factories are running short of parts. CURRENCY CRASH The dollar rose to its strongest point in more than a year while Turkey’s lira, Russia’s ruble and other currencies tumbled. Turkey: The lira has lost more than 20% over the week as international markets soured on the country’s capacity to repay its foreign-currency debts. Concerns about the health of Turkey’s financial system are rippling through global markets, Mike Bird writes.
Russia: U.S. sanctions roiled Russia’s currency and blue-chip stocks. Since 2014, Western sanctions have taken a severe toll on Russia’s economy, wiping out half of the ruble’s value, investment in the energy sector and crippling aluminum giant United Co. Rusal.
It’s not just countries with home-grown problems. The Australian dollar, South African rand, Hungarian forint and other currencies also stumbled. U.S.: When investors are worried about geopolitical tensions, American assets look like a safe bet. But a stronger dollar is a complication for any other country with dollar-denominated debt or that buys dollar-denominated commodities, like oil. Domestically, a stronger dollar can help hold down inflation but makes life tougher for exporters and stretches the trade deficit.
Do you think a stronger dollar will help or harm the U.S. economy? Write to Jeffrey Sparshott at realtimeeconomics@wsj.com, tweet to @WSJecon and visit wsj.com/economy for the latest news. (Please include your full name and hometown, or a title and company. Responses may be quoted in this newsletter.) WHAT TO WATCH TODAY The U.S. consumer-price index for July is out at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists expect both the overall rate and the core, which excludes food and energy, to rise 0.2% from the prior month. That would put the headline measure on track for a 2.9% year-over-year rise, and core at 2.3%, unchanged from the prior month.
The U.S. federal budget deficit for July is expected to widen to $76 billion from $42.94 billion a year earlier. TOP STORIES STRONGER FOR A LITTLE LONGER Economists are raising 2018 growth projections after a strong second quarter, but disputes with U.S. trading partners, a fading boost from fiscal stimulus and rising short-term interest rates lead many to believe the boom won’t last much beyond that. The average estimate for economic growth this year increased to 3%, up from projections of 2.9% last month and 2.4% a year ago, according to The Wall Street Journal’s monthly survey of private economists. They also see the unemployment rate falling to 3.6% by June, which would be the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 50 years, Josh Zumbrun reports. “The tax cuts and jump in federal spending will keep the economy buzzing for another 12 months. Beyond that, however, I expect to see dark clouds forming that would signal a recession is near.” – Bernard Baumohl, chief economist of the Economic Outlook Group
JAPAN REBOUNDS Japan returned to solid growth in the second quarter. The world’s third-largest economy expanded at an annualized pace of 1.9%. The growth trend is likely to continue on the back of higher wages and consumer spending—unless trade conflicts with the U.S. worsen, Megumi Fujikawa reports. Japan’s economy had hit a soft patch in the first quarter, contracting 0.9%.
U.K. TOO The U.K. economy accelerated in the second quarter as warm weather and the buzz surrounding soccer’s FIFA World Cup fired up consumer spending. The U.K. economy expanded at an annualized rate of 1.5% during the period, Jason Douglas reports, a sharp pickup from 0.9% in the first quarter. The figures suggest the economy is poised for another year of slow but steady growth—provided that Brexit negotiators can agree to terms for withdrawal from the European Union. DEMAND IN SEARCH OF SUPPLY American factories are running short of parts. Suppliers of everything from engines to electronic components aren’t keeping up with a boom in U.S. manufacturing driven by strong economic growth. As a result, some manufacturers are idling production lines and digesting higher costs, Doug Cameron and Austen Hufford report. Deliveries from suppliers have slowed for 22 consecutive months through July. Machinery was the hardest-hit sector. “The good news is that demand is really strong,” said Tom Derry, chief executive of the Institute for Supply Management. “The irony is we reached the limits of our ability, in the current configuration we have, to keep up with demand.”
TWEET OF THE DAY [wsj-responsive-sandbox id = "0" ] WHAT ELSE WE’RE READING Countries are giving up on taxing multinational corporations. “Between 1985 and 2018, the global average statutory corporate tax rate fell by more than half. This column uses new macroeconomic data to argue that profit shifting is a key driver of this decline. Close to 40% of multinational profits were artificially shifted to tax havens in 2015,” Thomas Tørsløv, Ludvig Wier and Gabriel Zucman write at the Center for Economic Policy Research. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. But it helps. “[S]uccessful outcomes stem in large part from investing in the right places at the right times; VC firms do not persist in their ability to choose the right places and times to invest; but early success does lead to investing in later rounds and in larger syndicates. This pattern of results seems most consistent with the idea that initial success improves access to deal flow. That preferential access raises the quality of subsequent investments,” Ramana Nanda, Sampsa Samila, Olav Sorenson write in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper.

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