With 2018 upon us, we look at the most important political and economic events taking place in 2018 that you should add to your economic calendar.
January 14th/21st – Deadline for Congress report on steel and aluminium import prices
Investigations began last year into the pricing of steel and aluminium imports into the US, mainly from China. Our major risk to the world economy in 2018 is a trade war between China and the US and should the investigations show that China has been manipulating their prices to the detriment of the US then the Trump administration could easily impose tariffs or quotas on such imports.
January 23 – NAFTA talks
US President Trump last year said that if NAFTA members can’t renegotiate a trade deal, “it’ll be terminated and that will be fine.” Trump added that the US would pursue a separate trade deal with Canada or Mexico if a deal couldn’t be reached with both countries.
Feb/Mar – Foal Eagle/Key Resolve U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises
Typically the US and South Korea conduct military exercises in February but with the heightened tensions between North and South Korea and the Winter Olympics taking place in 2hrs east of Seoul, these could be postponed.
February 3rd – Janet Yellen term ends as Fed Chair
We think that the Federal Reserve will raise rates twice in 2018 but the nomination of Jerome Powell as the new Fed Chair limits the likelihood of a policy surprise anytime soon and with the labour market as tight as it is we look for moves in core inflation measures to delineate whether the central bank needs to drive rates higher.
Feb 15th – Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is always a strange time for markets and the Chinese yuan. Typically markets can become more volatile as the Chinese government imposes new controls or laws during the week off.
March 4th – Italian General Elections
According to Italian media, the next general election will take place on March 4th and represents the next big political risk for the Eurozone. The populist Five Star Movement is set to gain the most votes although the party no longer centrally plans to leave the single currency.
April – US Treasury currency manipulation reports
Every 6 months the US Treasury releases a paper on foreign currency detailing whether any of the US’s trade partners are close to manipulating their currency. It is not the Chinese who should be worried by these moves however with both Korea and Taiwan seen as more earnestly interfering with their currencies.
May 3rd – UK local elections
While there is seemingly always a chance of a general election here in the UK on May 3rd we have local elections with all 32 London boroughs, 34 metropolitan boroughs and 74 district councils up for grabs.
June 14th – European Central Bank meeting
The European Central Bank’s latest policy meeting saw them keep benchmark interest rates unchanged (no surprises there) while they slowed down the pace of their asset purchase program. From January 2018, the ECB will buy €30 billion per month in corporate and government bonds, down from the €60 billion per month they currently buy. We believe this meeting in June will see the European Central Bank announce they are ending their asset purchase program.
July 1st – Austria takes over the EU Presidency
Late in 2017 Austria became the only western European state with a far-right presence in government. In July, Austria will hold the EU presidency for 6 months. Back in 2005 when the Freedom Party were also part of the Austrian Government, diplomatic relations between Austria and the wider EU were frayed. We see the reaction this time round as being significantly more muted.
Autumn – Brexit negotiations come to an end
Although we are still waiting on the announcement of a transitional arrangement which extends the time that the UK will remain a member of parts of the European Union, the UK still, as it stands, will leave the EU on March 29th 2019. For all plans to be voted on in time for that date then those negotiations must be ratified by this autumn.
November 6th – US midterm elections
All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate, alongside 39 State Governorships are up for grabs. Legislation has been one way of strangling the Trump administration but revoking their hold over both parts of Congress will go some way to stopping his reform agenda. We think it very unlikely that the Democrats will be able to meaningfully change the Senate but they need only 25 seats to flip in their favour to take back the House.