This weekend served up a heaping helping of my entire personal stew of economic nightmares. So here it is, your global economic news for the weekend:
LA Times: Commodities tumble on fears that China will try to slow its economy. “The fast-running bull market in commodities hit a wall Friday as prices plunged on fears that China will try to slow its economy to tame inflation. Rumors of another Chinese interest-rate hike started a chain reaction of selling across financial markets worldwide….”
Financial Times: Concern grows as Dublin spurns help. “Irish officials insisted on Sunday that they did not need fiscal assistance from the European Union, even as pressure mounted on Dublin to accept aid and present plans to restructure its banking system….Behind the scenes, the ECB has put pressure on Dublin to take steps within days that would provide an urgently needed boost to confidence in Ireland’s public finances and struggling banking system.”
Wall Street Journal: Credit Fears, QE2, Elections Prompt Muni Selloff. “Investors sold off long-term municipal bonds in the past week, sending a shiver through a normally stable market….In recent months, with reports of financial woes in Harrisburg, Pa., and of some municipal borrowers walking away from debts, some investors have begun to question whether government borrowers are as reliable as investors’ presumed about repaying loans.”
Financial Times: Nervousness as bonds braced for Greek tests. “Eurostat, the Commission’s audit unit, is set to revise upwards Greece’s 2009 budget deficit figure to about 15.3 per cent of gross domestic product from the current estimate of 13.6 per cent of GDP….This could spark a sell-off in the Greek and other peripheral bond markets as investors are increasingly nervous about the ability of the weaker eurozone economies to turn round their economies and restore growth…..David Owen, chief European financial economist at Jefferies, the investment bank, said:  ‘If investors start to sell bonds of Spain and Italy in the way they have been selling Greek, Irish and Portuguese bonds, then the crisis will take on a whole new dimension.'”
All of these are trouble spots for the world economy. Throw in Eastern Europe and hot money flows into developing countries and you’ve got an even half dozen shocks that could send us into another tailspin. Hopefully none of them will happen. But all it would take is for one or two of them to unfold badly. Keep your fingers crossed.