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Shipping containers are unloaded from a ship at a container terminal at the Port of Long Beach-Port of Los Angeles complex, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 7, 2021. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Charting the Global Economy: Weak Trade Shows China Struggling

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June 12, 2023

By Vince Golle and Molly Smith (Bloomberg) —

Fresh trade data out of China added to evidence that the world’s second-largest economy is struggling for traction.

In Germany, another decline in orders placed with manufacturers suggested a lack of momentum in Europe’s largest economy. Meanwhile, consumers in the euro zone became much more sanguine about the inflation outlook, a development that feeds into the debate about how long interest rates must rise.

After US lawmakers agreed to suspend the debt limit, the Treasury said it expects a significant rebuilding of its cash balance by month’s end.

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


China’s economic recovery showed further signs of weakening in May, clouding the outlook for the rest of the year and fueling calls for more central bank stimulus. Trade figures this week were the latest to show the economy’s weakening outlook. Both exports and imports contracted in May from a year ago, a sign of subdued global and domestic demand.

Foreign tourists packing flights to Japan are helping the economy climb out of a recession with spending power that is also fueling upward pressure on hospitality-sector pay and prices.

In the over three decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia held on to its spot as the biggest trading partner for Kazakhstan even as China made inroads across much of the region. But financial and economic sanctions that have sidelined Russia and diverted trade flows are creating an opening for China.


Consumer expectations for euro-zone inflation eased significantly in April, adding to the case for the European Central Bank’s historic ramp-up in interest rates to conclude this summer.

German factory orders unexpectedly fell in April, further dimming prospects for Europe’s largest economy after it endured the first recession since the pandemic over the winter.

US & Canada

The Bank of Canada defied expectations by restarting its interest-rate tightening campaign, saying the economy is running too hot. Policymakers raised the overnight lending rate to 4.75%, the highest since 2001.

The US service sector nearly stagnated in May as business activity and orders downshifted, while a measure of prices paid slid to a three-year low.

The Treasury expects its cash pile — already showing signs of recouping lost ground after the deal to suspend the statutory debt limit — will reach around $425 billion at the end of June.

The biggest shipping gateways on the US West Coast are enduring the longest labor-related disruptions since 2015 as talks between port employers and dockworkers close in on one year without a contract. The two sides are clashing over how to divide carriers’ pandemic-era profits in a market that’s returned to rock-bottom freight rates.

Emerging Markets

Brazil’s annual inflation slowed much more than expected in May, hitting the lowest level in two and a half years and piling pressure on the central bank to ease monetary policy in coming months.

Saudi Arabia’s plan to slash oil production by around 10% may hit its finances hard. The decision by the kingdom to lower crude output to 9 million barrels a day next month and perhaps beyond, has failed to boost prices much. Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, who announced the unilateral cut after an OPEC+ meeting, described it as a “lollipop” for other members of the producers’ cartel.


The global economy is in a precarious situation and heading for a substantial growth slowdown as sharp interest-rate increases hit activity and stir vulnerabilities in lower-income countries, according to the World Bank.

Australia’s central bank unexpectedly raised its key interest rate and kept the door open to further hikes. The Bank of Canada also surprised by boosting rates. Poland, India, Peru and Russia stood pat.

–With assistance from Laura Curtis, Toru Fujioka, Nariman Gizitdinov, Alexandra Harris, Erik Hertzberg, William Horobin, John Liu, Abeer Abu Omar, Jana Randow, Andrew Rosati, Augusta Saraiva, Zoe Schneeweiss, Randy Thanthong-Knight, Emi Urabe, Fran Wang and Alexander Weber.

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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