Connect with us

Economics

How the Pandemic Widened Global Current Account Balances

By Martin Kaufman and Daniel Leigh 2020 was a year of extremes. Travel all but ceased for a period. Oil prices wildly fluctuated. Trade in medical products reached new heights. Household spending shifted to consumer goods rather than services and savings.

Published

on

By Martin Kaufman and Daniel Leigh

2020 was a year of extremes. Travel all but ceased for a period. Oil prices wildly fluctuated. Trade in medical products reached new heights. Household spending shifted to consumer goods rather than services and savings ballooned as people stayed home amid a global shutdown.

If not for the crisis, global current account balances would have continued to decline.

Exceptional policy support prevented a global economic depression, even as the pandemic took a heavy toll on lives and livelihoods. The global reaction, as seen in major shifts in travel, consumption, and trade, also made the world a more economically imbalanced place as reflected in current account balances—a record of a country’s transactions with the rest of the world.

In our latest External Sector Report we found that the global reaction to the pandemic further widened global current account balances—the sum of absolute deficits and surpluses among all countries—from 2.8 percent of world GDP in 2019 to 3.2 percent of GDP in 2020. Those balances are set to widen further as the pandemic continues to rage in much of the world.

If not for the crisis, global current account balances would have continued to decline. While external deficits and surpluses are not necessarily a cause for concern, excessive imbalances—larger than warranted by the economy’s fundamentals and appropriate economic policies—can have destabilizing effects on economies by fueling trade tensions and increasing the likelihood of disruptive asset price adjustments.

A year like no other

The dramatic fluctuations in current account deficits and surpluses in 2020 were driven by four major pandemic-fueled trends:

  • Travel declined: The pandemic led to a sharp decrease in tourism and travel. This had a significant negative impact on the account balances of countries that rely on tourism revenue, such as Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and even larger consequences for smaller tourism-dependent economies.
  • Oil demand collapsed: The collapse in oil demand and energy prices was relatively short lived, with oil prices recovering in the second half of 2020. However, oil-exporting economies, such as Saudi Arabia and Russia, saw current account balances decline sharply in 2020. Oil-importing countries saw corresponding increases to their oil trade balances.
  • Medical products trade boomed: Demand surged by about 30 percent for medical supplies critical for fighting the pandemic, such as personal protective equipment, as well as the inputs and materials to make them, with implications for importers and exporters of these items.
  • Household consumption shifted: As people were forced to stay home, households shifted their consumption away from services toward consumer goods. This happened most in advanced economies where there was an increase in the purchase of durable goods like electrical appliances used to accommodate teleworking and virtual learning.

All of these factors contributed to some countries seeing a wider current account deficit, meaning they bought more than they sold, or a larger current account surplus, meaning they sold more than they bought. Favorable global financial conditions, with the unprecedented monetary policy support from major central banks, made it easier for countries to finance wider current account deficits. In contrast, during past crises where financial conditions sharply tightened, running current account deficits was harder, pushing countries further into recession.

On top of these external factors, the pandemic led to massive government borrowing to finance health care and provide economic support to households and firms, creating large uneven effects on trade balances.

The outlook

Global current account balances are set to widen even further in 2021 but this trend is not expected to last. The latest IMF staff forecasts indicate that global current account balances will narrow in the coming years, as China’s surplus and the US’ deficit falls, reaching 2.5 percent of world GDP by 2026.

A reduction in balances could be delayed if large deficit economies like the US undertake additional fiscal expansions or there is a faster-than-expected fiscal adjustment in current account surplus countries, like Germany. A resurgence of the pandemic and a tightening of global financial conditions that disrupt the flow of capital to emerging markets and developing economies could also affect balances.

Despite the shock of the crisis and possibly due to its worldwide impact, excessive current account deficits and surpluses were broadly unchanged in 2020, representing about 1.2 percent of world GDP. Most of the drivers of excess external imbalances pre-date the pandemic and include fiscal imbalances as well as structural and competitiveness distortions.

Rebalancing the world economy

Ending the pandemic for everyone in the world is the only way to ensure a global economic recovery that prevents further divergence. This will require a global effort to help countries secure financing for vaccinations and maintain healthcare.

A synchronized global investment push or a synchronized health spending push to end the pandemic and support the recovery could have large effects on world growth without raising global balances.

Governments should step up efforts to resolve trade and technology tensions and modernize international taxation. A top priority should be the phasing out of tariff and non-tariff barriers, especially on medical products.

Countries with excess current account deficits should, where appropriate, seek to reduce budget deficits over the medium term and make competitiveness-raising reforms, including in education and innovation policies. In economies with excess current account surpluses and remaining fiscal space, policies should support the recovery and medium-term growth, including through greater public investment.

In the years to come, countries will need to simultaneously rebalance, while ensuring that the recovery is built on a solid and durable foundation.

 

We want to hear from you!

Click here for a 3-question survey on IMFBlog.

 

Read More

Continue Reading

Spread & Containment

Costco Stock Forecast and Review

When looking at a Costco stock forecast, there are a few things to watch out for. The predictions for growth continue for investors.
The post Costco Stock Forecast and Review appeared first on Investment U.

Published

on

Costco (Nasdaq: COST) is currently the world’s 3rd largest retailer by revenue (behind Walmart and Amazon) and is well known for offering wholesale prices to its members. To start with a Costco stock forecast, it’s important to understand the business…

For just $60 per year ($120 if you go with the “Executive Member” plan), Costco members can save money on gas, groceries and just about every product in between. Costco also owns the highly-coveted title for “The World’s #1 Seller of Rotisserie Chickens.”

Costco opened its first store in Seattle in 1983 and today has grown to 815 warehouses. From the get-go, its strategy has been to eliminate all the “frills” associated with retailers in order to cut costs. By cutting its operating costs to the bare minimum, it’s able to save money and pass these savings on to its customers. Common retail expenses that you won’t find at a Costco location are salespeople, fancy buildings or delivery options (groceries excluded).

Costco Saves for Customers and Investors

Over the years, Costco has become popular for saving its members tons of money. However, to shop at Costco you need to join its membership program which currently sits at just under 110 million cardholders. This equates to at least $6.6 billion in annual recurring revenue for Costco. However, the loyalty that this membership builds is worth much more than $6 billion.

When you sign up for a Costco membership, Costco automatically becomes your de facto place to purchase goods. Almost without thinking, you’ll pick Costco over Target, Walmart or Amazon because you know that you’ll save money by shopping at Costco. On top of the savings, you also want to make sure that your $60 per year commitment doesn’t go to waste. When it gets a new member, Costco wins twice. It gets $60 in annual recurring revenue and it also gets a large chunk of that person’s daily spending, potentially for the rest of their life.

Programs like Amazon Prime and American Airlines’ AAdvantage program have been successful for similar reasons. After signing up, Amazon Prime members will slowly get in the habit of ordering everything from Amazon. They want to take advantage of free 2-day shipping. Also, some diehard AA members will not even consider booking with another airline because they want to ensure that they’re getting rewarded for flying (through AA miles).

With this in mind, should you include Costco stock in your portfolio, even if you don’t have a membership card at home?

Let’s take a quick look at a Costco stock forecast as well as a few predictions for the stock moving forward.

Costco Stock Price Forecast

Note: I’m not a financial advisor and am just offering my own research and commentary. Please do your own due diligence before making any investment decisions.

Costco is scheduled to announce earnings on September 23, 2021.

In today’s investing environment, so much relies on the coronavirus pandemic. Did the company have a business model that thrived during the pandemic? Did it capitalize on this position? Will this success continue now that the pandemic is mostly over? In Costco’s case, these answers are yes, yes and yes.

Costco was undeniably a Coronavirus winner (check out these telemedicine stocks as well). People were prepping for the COVID-19 quarantines like it was the apocalypse and Costco’s wholesale-style business is literally designed to help people save money while prepping for the apocalypse. What’s surprising, however, is that Costco is actually getting more traffic now than it was B.C. (Before-COVID).

According to foot traffic data from Placer Labs, Costco’s monthly visits were up 13.8% in July 2021 as well as 12.8% in August 2021 (when compared to 2019 numbers). During its December 2020 earnings report, it reported that revenue from memberships rose 7%. It’s likely that many people opened a new Costco membership in hopes of saving money while it stockpiled quarantine supplies. Now, even though the pandemic is over, this buying habit remains.

Notably, Costco’s success is not an outlier within the industry. Other wholesalers like Sam’s Club and BJ’s have also experienced higher traffic.

Costco Stock Predictions

Costco is scheduled to announce earnings on September 23, 2021. Analysts are expecting EPS of $3.54 and revenue of $61.45 billion. Both of these numbers are higher than the previous quarter where analysts were expecting EPS of $2.28 and revenue of $43.28 billion.

Costco has beaten its last four revenue predictions as well as three out of four of its EPS predictions. However, since investors have set a higher bar for Costco, it may be more difficult for it to reach it. It’s very possible that Costco reports an increase in revenue but still falls short of investors’ expectations, which could result in a lower stock price.

In 2020, Costco posted total revenue of $166.7 billion and a net income of $4 billion. This completed five years in a row of growing revenues with an average yearly growth rate of 7.57%. Costco also has a dividend yield of close to 1% and razor-thin profit margins of 2.4%.

Costco’s stock was up about 30% in 2020 and is up 200% over the past five years.

Is Costco Stock a Buy?

When making a Costco stock forecast, there are a few things to watch out for.

Mainly, record inflation numbers recently could hurt Costco’s profitability in the short term. Since Costco is known for low prices, it will likely do its best to avoid raising prices even as inflation pushed its costs higher. A similar situation happened with Kroger recently. Higher costs with the same prices would mean less profit for Costco, who already operates on razor-thin margins.

If you’re looking for stocks that can profit on inflation, check out these agriculture stocks. They can pass along increasing costs to customers over time.

On the bright side, Costco was able to use the pandemic to thrive in both the short term and (potentially) the long term. Costco added more memberships during the pandemic, which should result in more loyal shoppers and higher revenues for the years to come. When looking at the long-term Costco stock forecast, the outlook certainly looks rosy. This is especially true since Costco dominates the wholesale retail industry as it faces little competition from Sam’s Club and BJ’s.

The increase in Costco’s membership is also important because Costco is due to raise the price for its membership fee. On average, Costco increases its membership fee by about 10% every 5-6 years. Its last increase was a few years ago, so this fee should be coming in the next 18 months or so. Due to the immense size of this program, even a 10% price increase would boost revenue from memberships by at least $660 million.

Its membership fee is a significant contributor to its gross margin, so this extra revenue could have a big impact on profitability as well as Costco’s stock price. Of course, this is assuming that the membership price increase doesn’t also lead to a drop in total memberships.

As usual, assigning a Costco stock price prediction in the short term is always difficult. This is especially true because there are plenty of other factors that could hurt the market overall. Market-wide moves could hurt Costco stock.

For example, there are rumors that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates. This increases concerns over inflation, as well as a stock market that has run 90% since its March 2020 low. These are all things to keep in mind when determining whether or not to buy Costco stock in the short term. With that said, Costco stock is certainly positioned well for continued success in the years to come.

Investing Beyond Costco Stock

I hope that you’ve found this Costco stock forecast to be valuable in helping you determine a Costco stock prediction! As usual, all investment decisions should be based on your own due diligence and risk tolerance.

If you’re looking for even better investing opportunities, sign up for Wealthy Retirement. It’s a free e-letter that’s packed with tips and tricks. You’ll hear directly from bestselling author Marc Lichtenfeld. He’s an income expert who literally wrote the book on getting rich with dividends.

The post Costco Stock Forecast and Review appeared first on Investment U.

Read More

Continue Reading

Economics

MLB trade rumors and news: Padres DFA Arrieta, Severino pitches for first time since 2019

Photo by Jeff Curry-USA TODAY SportsThis could be the end of the road for the 2015 NL Cy Young winner. The MLB Daily Dish is a daily feature we’re running here at MLBDD that rounds up roster-impacting news, rumors, and analysis. Have feedback or have s…

Published

on

Photo by Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

This could be the end of the road for the 2015 NL Cy Young winner.

The MLB Daily Dish is a daily feature we’re running here at MLBDD that rounds up roster-impacting news, rumors, and analysis. Have feedback or have something that should be shared? Hit us up at @mlbdailydish on Twitter or @MLBDailyDish on Instagram.

Read More

Continue Reading

Economics

Why Monday’s Decline Was So Shocking

It’s no secret that investors had become accustomed to a historic level of calm. We’ve been looking at this since the spring, it usually doesn’t last, and yet it did for months.Even with a late-day recovery on Monday, the loss in the most widely-benchm…

Published

on

It's no secret that investors had become accustomed to a historic level of calm. We've been looking at this since the spring, it usually doesn't last, and yet it did for months.

Even with a late-day recovery on Monday, the loss in the most widely-benchmarked index in the world was a rude awakening to those who believe that stocks only travel in one direction. Monday's session was more than two standard deviations from the average daily change over the past year. The only other day with a -2 z-score over the past year was May 12, which marked the bottom for that pullback.

It had been nearly 90 days since that "shocking" decline in May, which is a relatively long time. Over the past decade, this ranked as the 10th-longest stretch between shocking drops.

Most of us are concerned with the question of "so what?" To help give a clue, the table below shows every time since 1928 when the S&P 500 was within 5% and no more than three weeks removed from a multi-year high, then suffered its first -2 standard deviation move in at least four months. These show the times when reality paid investors an unwelcome visit.


What else we're looking at

  • Full returns after stocks suffer a shocking drop
  • What the risk/reward of all precedents suggest about the coming week(s)
  • Potentially ways to manage a couple of options trades that are now profitable
  • A quick update on copper
  • Looking at several mean reversal signals that have set up (but not yet triggered)

Stat box

Put option trading volume in equities and indexes across U.S. exchanges neared 22 million contracts on Monday. That was the 6th-highest reading in the past 5 years.

Etcetera

Heavy industry. Recent losses are weighing on sentiment in industrial stocks. Over the past 10 days, the average Optimism Index on the XLI Industrials fund has been below 25%, the 2nd-lowest in two years. These stocks tend to do well once sentiment starts to recover from a very low level.

xli industrial sentiment optimism index

Oscillators oscillate. The McClellan Oscillator for industrial stocks has plunged below -100, showing quick and severe internal selling pressure. It was above +50 as recently as the end of August. The current reading is on par with the most severe reactions in the past year.

xli industrial mcclellan oscillator

Sell (almost) everything. Heavy selling pressure is also evident in the 10-day advance/decline line for industrials. It's showing an average of nearly 20 more stocks declining than advancing, nearing the most lopsided selling pressure since the pandemic crash.

xli industrial advance decline line

Read More

Continue Reading

Trending