Economic data from France last week was so bad that one analyst simply wrote "?!" on a chart measuring confidence in the service sector. The survey in question was the INSEE services confidence poll. It showed a cliff-edge drop in expectations from France's non-manufacturing companies.
Here it is:
"The crash in the French services PMI looks completely out of whack compared with the INSEE data," Pantheon Macroeconomics analyst Claus Vistesen told clients.
That index isn't the most crucial economic indicator in Europe, but its collapse was an extreme version of a number of negative-looking charts coming out of the continent this week. The ECB said midweek that risks to the economy in Europe had "moved to the downside" largely due to a reduction in international trade caused by political uncertainty (ie Trump and Brexit).
Among the bad news:
There is some good news for the longer term. The broad consensus among analysts is that Europe will avoid a recession in 2019 but that growth will be weak. There may be a stronger pickup toward the end of the year.
But this is a continent wracked by a trade war with the US, a slowdown in China (one of its major trading partners) political paralysis around Brexit, a currency crisis in Turkey, and recession in a debt-ridden Italy. One small example: Romania, with a population of just 20 million, doesn't usually make headlines in the economics world but over the last 12 months its currency, the leu, lost 11% of its value against the US dollar. That is not as extreme as the losses in Turkey, Argentina and Venezuela, but it's not a good sign either.
It's hard to put this all together and conclude that Europe will be regaining altitude anytime soon.
"The Eurozone economy needs solid growth in its core manufacturing sector to perform at its best, and at the moment, it seems like growth here is falling off a cliff, almost that is," Vistesen says.
Also from Business Insider South Africa: