First publicised in 2005 as part of a press release, a UK travel company claimed to have calculated the most depressing day of the year. A form of pseudo-science, the formula used, incorporated many factors; the weather, debt levels, the time until the next bank holiday and probability of New Year’s resolutions being broken. Usually falling on the Monday of the last full week of January, Blue Monday as it has been christened, kicked off a week that saw many mainstream markets end in the red as a US governmental shutdown and worries over China’s slowing growth stop a 2019 market rebound in its tracks.
In the new order of world power, China is set to surpass the US as the world’s largest economy by 2030, giving its economic data some added significance. Statistics released on Monday showed that the Chinese economy continues to cool, with GDP growth coming in at 6.4%, down from 6.5% a year ago, and fourth quarter readings at their slowest since the Global Financial Crisis. There were a few bright spots however; Chinese industrial output grew 5.7% in December, beating economists’ expectations of 5.3%.
From a country with a famous Great Wall to one with aspirations of building one, US investors were forced to sit and wait on the side-lines this week as a government shutdown rumbled on to become the longest in American history. Due to arguments primarily over a wall on the border with Mexico, parts of the US government continue to remain closed, causing some to believe that US economic growth for the first quarter of 2019 could be flat if the impasse continues. It has also been estimated that $1.3 billion is shaved off the US economy for each day the partial shutdown continues.
On domestic shores, the news was much more positive, especially for the consumer, as data showed that the number of people in work has reached the highest on record. Average hourly earnings also increased by 3.3%, outpacing inflation which had previously fallen to 2.1%. The numbers will make for happy reading both in the City and Westminster, especially as the clock ticks down towards the Brexit deadline.