Australia has suffered its largest quarterly GDP decline in 20 years. India’s economy, while still growing, has sharply decelerated — well below analyst estimates. Manufacturing in China has slowed to its slowest pace of growth in nine months, while manufacturing in South Korea hit a six-month low. Japan’s economy, still recovering from a natural and nuclear disaster, shrank at a 3.7% annual pace in the first quarter, and has been warned by Moody’s its credit rating may soon be downgraded.
Such has befallen Asia, the world’s growth engine. Since the economic crisis that has mainly imperiled the United States and eurozone economies, the world has looked to Asia as the last redoubt of economic buoyancy. What can the still struggling economies of the West expect when Eastern economies show clear signs of slowing?
Meanwhile, back in the sickly West, Moody’s has further downgraded already junk-level Greek government bonds. And the Chicago regional Fed branch reported the biggest one-month deceleration in manufacturing in two and half years, following other recent reports from across the U.S. of declining manufacturing. Confirming the apparent downtrend, the Conference Board released its survey of consumer confidence, which fell sharply in May to 60.8, though economists expected the leading indicator to rise from its April index level of 66 to 67.5.