First, a potential Grexit avoided. Next, a Chinese stock market crash with a Chinese government that intervenes one minute and withdraws the next. Now, persistent volatility on global equity and commodity markets, mass migration into Europe, and subdued growth in all advanced global economies.
And another day, another new Prime Minister for Australia!
We are indeed in unprecedented and inherently uncertain times. But what does this mean for credit managers, Australian businesses and the credit industry?
Together with the AICM, Dun & Bradstreet identified an opportunity to host a unique event to update and educate AICM members and our customers on specifically this question.
On Thursday September 3rd, we delivered the inaugural Dun & Bradstreet Quarterly Economic Update with Stephen Koukoulas. We were proud to host this event in conjunction with the AICM's Nick Pilavidis as part of their National Partners Webinar Series.
This first event was incredibly timely given it was delivered two days after the monthly RBA Board meeting and interest rate decision, and immediately following a week of particular volatility on global markets. Further, recently released research by Dun & Bradstreet added a richness to the event's content and insight that was unique to credit managers.
Stephen Koukoulas, Economic Advisor to Dun & Bradstreet, discussed a broad range of research and economic indicators affecting Australian businesses. On a global level, he canvassed the slowing Chinese growth and production indicators that are so critical for Australian given China is our largest trading partner. While China is undoubtedly slowing – the elephant in the room remains exactly how far it will slow.
Over in the United States, the picture is brighter with their economic recovery clearly gaining traction. As the world's incumbent economic powerhouse, the sustained GDP, consumption and employment growth they are experiencing will have significant and positive repercussions for the global economy.
Closer to home, the outlook is one of cautious positivity. Dun & Bradstreet's Business Expectations Index, which has a strong track record as an accurate leading indicator of domestic business sentiment, is tracking at historic highs.
In similarly positive news, business sales, profit and employment/hiring expectations are all strong in this historically low interest rate and inflation environment. For the credit industry specifically, Stephen canvassed further good signs with bad debt levels and average payment times staying remarkably low, all while we are seeing a broad-based upturn in credit growth.
Concerns for the domestic economy include unemployment edging higher, multi-speed economies persisting across our states (growth in NSW and Victoria while the other states struggle), and sluggish business investment.
Looking ahead, Dun & Bradstreet is predicting economic growth to remain subdued in the near term while picking up in 2016, with unemployment to remain in the 6-6.5% band. We see interest rates on hold for the long term, with the RBA content to sit and wait for fresh news from the larger global economies. Finally, we predict the Australian Dollar to remain under persistent pressure in the 60-70 US cent range, but could bounce if the domestic growth outlook improves.
And with 2016 an election year under a new Prime Minister seeking to quickly make his mark, we may see significant policy changes that could impact the economy. Feedback from this webinar has been consistently excellent, such that we are delighted to announce that we will continue to partner with the AICM to host this ongoing economic webinar series on a quarterly basis going forward.
We invite all AICM members to join us for the next Quarterly Economic Update webinar in early December which will be an event not to be missed. Look out for your invitation email to be sent to you in November.
Darin Milner is Director, Risk Management Solutions, Dun & Bradstreet Australia and New Zealand.