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Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, January 29-30, 2019

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The Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Open Market Committee on Wednesday released the attached minutes of the Committee meeting held on January 29-30, 2019.

The minutes for each regularly scheduled meeting of the Committee ordinarily are made available three weeks after the day of the policy decision and subsequently are published in the Board's Annual Report. The descriptions of economic and financial conditions contained in these minutes are based solely on the information that was available to the Committee at the time of the meeting.

FOMC minutes can be viewed on the Board's website at https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/fomccalendars.htm

For media inquiries, call 202-452-2955

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Weakness in Paris and the South West weighs on French service sector

Output contraction accelerates in January, driven byservicesFurther weakness potentially caused by regional 'gilets jaunes'disruptionDivergence with INSEE business survey emerges in January, butPMI often acts as a leading indicator

January data from the IHS Markit France PMI surveys pointed tothe fastest contraction in private sector output since November2014. This was shown by the seasonally adjusted Composite OutputIndex registering below the neutral 50.0 mark at 48.2 in January,down from 48.7 in December. January's weak performance was drivenby the service sector, with firms recording a sharper fall inbusiness activity compared to December, and the fastest overalldecline for almost five years. Meanwhile, manufacturers saw outputcontract only fractionally in January, after the quickest downturnfor over three-and-a-half years in December, which represented amove towards stabilisation.

PMI shows regional disparities

The latest results may appear surprising, given that thenationwide 'gilets jaunes' protests were a key reason behind theinitial downturn in December, and have become less widespread atthe start of 2019. However, an experimental regional breakdown ofthe France services PMI indicated that sharp and accelerated fallsin business activity were largely confined to two main geographicalareas. Notably, these regions appear to be where protests are stillat their most intense, namely in Paris and the South West. Thecontractions seem to have more than offset a rebound seen in otherparts of France, suggesting that lingering protests can explainsome of the weakness seen in the service sector at the start ofthis year.

Divergence from INSEE survey

A divergence with the INSEE Business Climate Indicator alsohighlighted the surprisingly weak PMI results during January. Theindices are strongly correlated over the past two decades, but inthe first month of 2019 resilience in the INSEE composite indicatorcontrasted with the contraction seen in the Composite Output PMI.Underlying data suggested that the divergence was due to differingservice sector results, as there was a slight improvement in theINSEE services indicator, while the rate of contraction signalledby the PMI accelerated.

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Production in construction down by 0.4% in euro area

In December 2018 compared with November 2018, seasonally adjusted production in the construction sector decreased by 0.4% in the euro area (EA19) and by 0.9% in the EU28, according to first estimates from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In November 2018, production in construction grew by 0.3% in the euro area and by 0.4% in the EU28.Original link
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Press Release: Expectations Remain Almost Unchanged While Situation Worsens

The ZEW Indicator of Economic Sentiment for Germany recorded an increase of 1.6 points in February 2019, and now stands at minus 13.4 points. Although the indicator has improved slightly, it is still in negative territory and remains well below the long-term average of 22.4 points. The assessment of the current economic situation in Germany once again decreased considerably in February, with the corresponding indicator falling by 12.6 points to a level of 15.0 points.Original link
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ZEW Discussion Papers DP No. 19004: Do Voluntary Environmental Programs Reduce Emissions? EMAS in the German Manufacturing Sector

Voluntary environmental management programs for firms have become an increasingly popularinstrument of environmental policy. However, the literature’s conclusion on the effectiveness of suchprograms is ambiguous, and for the European region there is a lack of evidence based on a large controlgroup. We seek to fill this gap with an evaluation of the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme ,introduced in 1995 by the European Union as a premium certification of continuous pro-environmentalefforts above regulatory minimum standards. It is more demanding than other voluntary programsdue to annual public reports of the environmental performance and targets for improvements. We useofficial firm-level...Original link
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Global copper users output index nears ten-year low prompting growth worries

Global copper users output falls at fastest rate in almost tenyears in JanuaryHistorical trend suggests worldwide manufacturing output maydeclineFurther headwinds to GDP growthCopper prices predicted to fall

Heavy users of copper saw a solid decline in output in January,boding ill for future demand for the metal in coming months. TheGlobal Copper Users PMI Output Index hit a near ten-year low at thestart of 2019, indicating a downturn of the scale not seen sincethe financial crisis.

This gives worrying indications of the health of themanufacturing sector and suggests a marked weakening of demand forcopper from manufacturers in the months ahead, as well as providinga potential early warning signal for slower global economicgrowth.

The IHS Markit Global Copper Users PMITM is acomposite indicator giving an overview of operating conditions atmanufacturers identified as heavy users of copper and is based ondata provided by companies around the globe.

As many copper users are producers of primary manufacturinggoods, the index measuring output levels has a strong correlationwith worldwide manufacturing output, and can offer projections forglobal economic growth in the near-to-medium term.

Falling output paints gloomy picture for first half of2019

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Global copper users output index nears ten-year low prompting growth worries

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Aktuell: “Legislation of Institutional Committees Offers a High Degree of Predictability”

Power and decision-making authorities concerning the European tax system are distributed among various institutions. In their own way, they influence the design of a common European tax system and are equally faced with the challenge of taking national tax policies into account. In a lecture organised as part of the First-Hand Information on Economic Policy series at the ZEW – Centre for European Economic Research in Mannheim, Professor Ferdinand Kirchhof, Vice-President of the Federal Constitutional Court until November 2018, addressed this complex relationship between the different actors of tax policy in a talk on 14 February 2019.Original link
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Aktuell: ZEW Economist Bucher-Koenen to Provide Expertise Regarding Future Social Security Systems

How does the future social security system in Germany have to be designed in order to be sustainable? Current discussions on the welfare state and long-term demographic developments underline the need to address this issue. Dr. Tabea Bucher-Koenen, head of the ZEW Research Department “International Finance and Financial Management”, has been appointed as an expert advisor to the newly established commission of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations on questions regarding the future of social security systems in Germany.Original link
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Week Ahead APAC Economic Preview: Week of 18 February 2019

Flash PMI surveys to provide early clues to economicperformance in Q1Trade data from Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, SingaporeThai GDP and Bank Indonesia's policy meetingSpecial report on US-Vietnam bilateral ties

Flash February PMI surveys will provide important steers ofeconomic activity and price trends during the first quarter of2019. January PMI data indicated thatthe growth slowdown has gathered pace at the start of the year,pushing the global PMI down to a 28-month low.

In Asia, a number of countries are reporting trade figures, withthe focus on Japan's exports and Taiwan's export orders. Thailandwill meanwhile report fourth quarter GDP figures, while Indonesiasets its monetary policy. The Reserve Bank of Australia publishesits policy meeting minutes. Other notable data releases includedinflation figures in Japan, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Elsewhere, US durable goods orders will be watched, alongside UKjob and earnings data, as well as final estimates of inflationnumbers across the Eurozone.

Our special report this week examines the improving bilateralrelationship between the US and Vietnam.

Download the article for a full diary of key economicreleases.

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