Jul 1st 2011, 17:41 by R.A. | WASHINGTON; Courtesy, The Economist
AMERICA’S economic prospects seem to be improving, but it’s very nearly alone in that respect. The latest data from purchasing managers’ indexes around the world provide a snapshot of a global slowdown. While American manufacturing activity grew at a faster pace in June relative to May, most countries saw slowdowns and a few dipped back into contractionary territory. (See this useful interactive at Real Time Economics for an easy comparison.)
Slowing growth in China has grabbed attention, given recent headlines about debt loads and unrest there. China’s PMI dipped from 52 to 50.9, barely in expansionary territory, in June. That’s not entirely a bad thing, however. Chinese inflation has been running uncomfortably high, and the government has been working to slow the economy’s growth. The story is the same in India, where activity also slowed, and in Brazil, where production actually fell in June.
As the chart at right indicates, the Indian and Brazilian economies have been running especially hot. (You can see an interactive chart of the factors that make-up the index here.) Depending on the pace of the slowdown over the next few months, there are sure to be worries about hard landings. Emerging market governments have little choice but to combat destabilising inflation.
The good news for the rich world is that slowing emerging market growth will keep commodity prices. That, in turn, will dampen inflationary pressures and free central banks to respond more appropriately to domestic economic conditions. In Europe, those conditions are weak and getting weaker. Manufacturing activity for the euro zone decelerated sharply in June. The big core economies, Germany and France, weren’t spared. But matters are worse around the periphery.
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