“Any customer can have a car painted any colour they want, so long as it is black.”
Reasons to be cheerful….? Can’t really think of anything this morning. Just more snapshots on why we should remain nervous. Nervous is good. Happy would make us complacent.
First up are some very interesting headlines out the otherwise lacklustre HSBC full-year results. CEO John Flint said a number of thing about trade, China and global uncertainty, noting the bank’s lending in Asia has clearly slowed, reflecting not only trade uncertainty, but also real reduction in the rate of growth as he warned how much disruption tariff hikes will cause to global supply chains. China slowdown makes one wonder if Flint’s hackneyed “Pivot to Asia” makes him the man who bet on Red and it came out Black?
Next up are Global auto sales. China numbers y’day were Dismal! Down 18% year on year. If China is driving global auto demand… Oh oh.. we’re in trouble. 2018 saw sales decline for the first time in 20-years. A number of factors are conspiring to make it worse: ongoing trade tensions damaging consumer sentiment is now a long-term discouragement, the Chinese government has pulled subsidies and is pushing domestic, and the threat of tariffs is discouraging any efforts to turn it around by importers.
The effect on global producers is all-too visible. GM China sales are down 10% yoy. Ford has seen an even bigger decline in 2018. Even sales of VW – which the Chinese love – are down 3% in January. Jaguar Land Rover is on the cusp of melt-down as it’s took a £3 bln impairment, a substantial chunk of which is due to weak market conditions in China. Imagine how much better Global Car prospects will get when Trump opens up his second front and declares 25% tariffs on European car makers?