Economic Growth Remains on a Positive Trajectory, For Now - During December, payrolls rose by 223K while the unemployment rate fell to 3.5% and average hourly earnings eased 0.3%. Job openings (JOLTS) edged down to 10.46 million in November. ISM manufacturing fell to 48.4 in December, while the services index unexpectedly dropped to 49.6. Construction spending increased 0.2% in November. The U.S. trade deficit narrowed to $61.5 billion in November.
Fiscal Policy Has Brazil Off to a Rocky Start - Enhanced government spending has the potential to place Brazil's sovereign debt burden on a more unsustainable trajectory. With Brazil's public finances already in a precarious position and Lula now officially sworn into office, concerns regarding a lack of fiscal discipline are starting to materialize and shake confidence.