If you want to understand what's happening with the global economy right now, then all you need to do is look at some of the data that came out in the last 24 hours.
As it stands, there are two, big opposing trends in the world economy. The first is that much of the world, particularly China and the emerging markets, is currently in slowdown mode. The other is that the U.S. domestic economy, particularly the consumer, is a beast.
Let's talk about the global growth story first.
Here's a messy chart that has five data points. The line in white is Caixin China PMI Manufacturing. Red is Vietnam PMI Manufacturing, yellow is Eurozone PMI Manufacturing, purple is the U.S. ISM and green is South Africa electricity consumption. The last one, South African electricity consumption is a nice extra measure to take the pulse of the emerging world, and as you can see it's incredibly ugly, having plunged 5.4 percent year-over-year. The U.S. and the Eurozone are still above 50 (signaling expansion) but the trend is not impressive. Every line -- including U.S. manufacturing in purple -- is heading down.
But as we noted, there is some strength in the U.S.
Auto sales in the U.S. appear to have trounced expectations for September, based on manufacturers' early estimates. These are big-ticket purchases that people made after August's bout of market volatility. Despite the market plunge, it looks like people are buying cars at the fastest pace since the financial crisis (we'll get the official September number later).
Also this morning we got the latest reading of the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort index, which shows a sharp rebound in recent weeks, with the index rising to its highest levels since mid-July.
In addition to these indicators of consumer strength, we also saw Private Residential Construction (housing) spending climb to its highest level since the crisis.
So there's your world economy in a nutshell. Emerging markets, China, manufacturing, etc. don't look very hot, but the twin engines of the U.S. economy -- consumers and housing -- continue unabated.