Heralding a new normality | Financial Times


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Hello and welcome to the first full working week of the new year.

How is your 2023 going? Amid the economic gloom and ongoing conflict in Ukraine, there are signs of a return to normality. The Golden Globe Awards ceremony is back this week in its Los Angeles home, after boycotts over a lack of diversity led to the cancellation of the event last year. Looking further ahead, world leaders, business leaders and economic thinkers will begin arriving in the Swiss resort of Davos this Sunday for the World Economic Forum the following week.

The next seven days also sees the official start of the fourth-quarter earnings season, beginning with Wall Street banks and British retailers. This will of course remind us that we are far from back to normal for the global economy — more details below.

For the UK, normality at the moment means widespread industrial action. Ambulance workers and driving instructors stage further walkouts this week, while strike ballots close for teaching unions in England and Wales.

Normality has been restored at least in Congress. Attention can now focus on the economic challenges this year will bring — more about the data announcements coming this week below.

Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida will be touring the capitals of the G7 nations this week, consulting his counterparts to agree themes for this year’s summit in May, something he has made a key item of his political agenda this year. Kishida personally advocated for the summit to take place in his home town of Hiroshima.

Could things be looking up? Yes, if you’re in Cornwall. Monday promises to be a historic day for the UK county — at least according to the Virgin Orbit press release — with the first space satellite launch from mainland Britain. It could perhaps better be described as a bit of classic British eccentricity since the nine satellites will be shot into orbit using a rocket launched from a repurposed Boeing 747, due to take off from Newquay airport on Monday night. It certainly shows a degree of creativity and should at least lift some British spirits.

Thank you to those who responded to last week’s alternative guide to the year ahead and for your comments about the regular newsletter. Email me at jonathan.moules@ft.com or by hitting reply if you received this via email (see the sign-up details here).

Economic data

Expect consumer price index (CPI) and other inflation data over the coming days from the US, China, Japan, Australia, Brazil and Mexico.

The British Retail Consortium updates its monthly UK high street sales survey on Tuesday, while on Friday the Office for National Statistics publishes the monthly GDP estimate giving a sense of where the country stands in terms of recession.

Monetary policy comes this week from the Bank of Korea, which is expected to increase the base rate a further 25 basis points to 3.50 per cent on Friday.

Companies

Who likes interest rate rises? Banks, that’s who. That will be made clear this week when several of Wall Street’s biggest lenders report fourth-quarter numbers on Friday.

These companies have made money on Fed tightening by raising rates for loans more than deposits. Analysts estimate JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo to report collective net interest income for the final three months of 2022 of almost $60bn, up 30 per cent year on year, according to consensus data compiled by Bloomberg. The concern is that this revenue-raising party cannot last and that net interest margins have reached a peak.

Line chart of Net interest income in $bn showing Sharp rise in big US banks' income from lending

The flip side of rate rises is the problem of high inflation, which brings me to the other theme of the corporate calendar this week: retailers.

Increased checkout prices might seem like a good thing for retailers. Not when inflation hits double digits, it isn’t. We will find out exactly how bad it has been over the Christmas period — or indeed whether stocking up for World Cup viewing provided any sort of fillip — through trading updates from British high street and online brands this week.

Consumer spending could of course be better than expected, as Next showed last week. Games Workshop, which reports first-half results on Tuesday, is creating a lot of excitement (and not just among Dungeons and Dragons obsessed teenagers) about growth opportunities owing to a spike in role-play gaming during the pandemic. Investor (as well as teenager) expectations have been raised further at the fantasy games producer’s recent Amazon TV and film deal.

Key economic and company reports

Here is a more complete list of what to expect in terms of company reports and economic data this week.

Monday

  • Germany, monthly industrial production data

  • Mexico, December consumer price index (CPI) inflation rate data

  • US, monthly consumer credit figures

  • Results: Tata Consultancy Services Q3

Tuesday

  • World Bank launches the winter edition of its Global Economic Prospects report, its semi-annual global economic forecast

  • France, monthly industrial production figures

  • UK, Office for National Statistics publishes interactive maps for data from the 2021 Census in England and Wales down to local authority and community level

  • UK, Barclaycard consumer spending data

  • UK, British Retail Consortium-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor

  • UK, Recruitment & Employment Confederation-KPMG jobs report

  • US, the brother of a former Coinbase product manager, Nikhil Wahi, is due to be sentenced today after pleading guilty in September to an insider trading charge

  • Results: Games Workshop H1, Robert Walters Q4 trading update

Wednesday

  • Italy, monthly retail sales figures

  • Mexico, November industrial production data

  • UK, Heathrow December monthly traffic figures

  • Results: Barratt trading update, Ferrexpo Q4 production report, Grafton trading update, Jaguar Land Rover sales update, JD Sports Christmas trading statement, PageGroup Q4 trading update, Sainsbury’s Q3 trading statement, Topps Tiles Q1 trading statement

Thursday

  • China, December CPI and producer price index (PPI) inflation rate data, plus December trade balance data

  • France, December CPI and harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) inflation rate data

  • Germany, unemployment claims figures

  • India, December CPI inflation rate data

  • Japan, November trade balance data (AM local time)

  • US, December CPI inflation rate data

  • Results: Asos trading update, Fast Retailing Q1, Halfords Q3 trading update, John Wood FY trading update, Marks and Spencer Christmas trading update, N Brown Q3 trading statement, Persimmon trading update, Tesco Q3 and Christmas trading update, TSMC Q4, Whitbread Q3 trading update

Friday

  • France, final monthly CPI inflation rate and industrial production figures

  • Germany, flash annual GDP figures

  • South Korea, monetary policy committee rate-setting meeting

  • UK, November GDP estimate and goods trade balance figures

  • Results: Bank of America Q4, Bank of New York Mellon Q4, BlackRock Q4, Citigroup Q4, Delta Air Lines Q4, DFS Furniture H1 trading statement, JPMorgan Chase Q4, Taylor Wimpey trading update, UnitedHealth Group Q4, Wells Fargo Q4

World events

Finally, here is a rundown of other events and milestones this week.

Monday

  • Japan, Coming of Age Day public holiday, celebrating those turning 20 in the 12 months to April 1 this year.

  • Mexico, president Andrés Manuel López Obrador hosts the North Summit with his counterparts from the US and Canada at the National Palace in Mexico City. The event will conclude on Wednesday with a bilateral meeting between López Obrador and Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau.

  • UK, members of the Public and Commercial Services Union at the Rural Payments Agency and DVLA in Swansea are to strike in an ongoing dispute over pay, pensions, job security and redundancy terms. Separately, teaching union NASUWT closes a strike ballot among members working in schools and sixth form colleges in England and Wales, recommending that they vote for a walkout over pay.

  • UK, the first orbital launch from mainland Britain is due to take place from Cornwall Airport Newquay, with Virgin Orbit using a repurposed Boeing 747 to launch a rocket carrying nine satellites into space.

Tuesday

  • Sweden, Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey chairs a panel discussion on central bank independence and potential future risks at an event hosted by Sweden’s Riksbank.

  • US, the 80th Golden Globe Awards return after a year off air. The Los Angeles ceremony took place privately in 2022 amid boycotts by actors and media companies over the lack of diversity in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s membership.

Wednesday

Thursday

  • EU, president Ursula von der Leyen leads a European Commission visit to Sweden to discuss the country’s priorities during its bloc presidency, which began this month.

  • UK, NHS England publishes figures for November and December, along with quarterly waiting time data for A&E attendances and emergency admissions.

  • UK, further rail strikes over pay, this time by members of the TSSA union at Rail for London Infrastructure, operator of London’s new Elizabeth Line service.

Friday

  • Czech Republic, first of the two-day election to decide the country’s next president and head of state. Incumbent president Miloš Zeman will not be able to run again having served two five-year terms, but former prime minister Andrej Babiš has confirmed his candidacy.

  • UK, National Education Union closes a strike ballot over pay among about 300,000 teachers and support staff in England and Wales.

  • US, The Trump Organization due to be sentenced after the former president’s real estate company was convicted in December on tax fraud charges.

  • US, Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida meets US president Joe Biden at the White House ending a week of visits to five G7 nations building consensus for the economic group’s annual summit this year hosted by Japan in May.

Saturday

Sunday

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