Wednesday 26th November 2014
NEWS TICKER, WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 26TH 2014: According to local press reports, the chief of the UAE stock market regulator wants more industrial companies to list their shares on exchanges dominated by property and investment firms. Abdulla Al Turifi, chief executive of the UAE Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), says the regulator is reviewing applications for initial public offerings of up to four companies to list on the UAE bourses and another three applications for a new secondary market for companies that currently trade only OTC. The UAE is seeking to broaden its industrial base and reduce its reliance on hydrocarbons, but the country’s two main stock exchanges are dominated by property and financial listings. Recent IPOs have come from retail, a sector also previously unrepresented on the exchanges. In February this year, the SCA and the Ministry of Economy issued a law requiring private joint stock companies to list their shares on a second market, in the hope that it would encourage firms to eventually move onto the main board- Moody's has placed the B3 corporate family rating, B3-PD probability of default rating and B1 rating on the senior secured facilities of Reynolds Group Holdings Limited under review for downgrade. The review follows RGHL's announcement that it had entered into a definitive agreement to sell its SIG Combibloc business to Onex Corporation for up to €3.75bn. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2015, pending final regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions - Morocco’s House of Representatives yesterday approved a new law authorising the establishment of Islamic banks and private companies to issue Islamic bonds. Since the Islamist-led government took office in 2011, it has been attempting to develop Islamic finance in the country. The bill was passed unanimously - According to Iran’s Fars News Agency (FNA) Iran’s non-oil exports have grown by 28% since the end of March. Iran’s non-oil exports have surged by 28% since the Persian new year (March 21), Fars News Non-oil export revenues, minus gas condensates, were approximately $18bn this year. Roughly $5bn from the non-oil exports revenues were from tourism (up 32%), though the bulk comes from engineering, workforce and transit services. Some 93% of the country’s non-oil export revenue comes from Asian countries. Imports since the end of March have risen 32% to $21.695bn -IXICO the brain health company, today announces that the contracts for two separate clinical trials in Huntington’s disease with two pharmaceutical companies have been extended. As a consequence, IXICO anticipates the revenue from these two contracts to be significantly enhanced to a potential £2.5m over approximately three years – Any announcement around the sale of Japan Post Holding’s projected IPO now looks to be postponed until January, according to the company’s president Taizo Nishimuro, at a news conference earlier today. In October, the government selected Nomura Securities and ten other underwriters for the initial public offering. The IPO is the first leg of the government's plan to sell up to two-thirds of Japan Post's shares. The government is hoping to raise more than $20bn from the sale - The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed notice to revoke the registrations of Altamont Global Partners LLC (Altamont), a commodity pool operator of Longwood, Florida, and John G. Wilkins a principal, managing member and approximate one-third owner of Altamont. The notice alleges that Altamont and Wilkins are subject to statutory disqualification from CFTC registration based on an order for entry of default judgment and an amended Order of permanent injunction. The orders include findings that Altamont and Wilkins misappropriated commodity pool funds and issued false quarterly statements to pool participants. The notice alleges that Wilkins is subject to statutory disqualification from CFTC registration based on his conviction for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. A US District Court has sentenced Wilkins to 108 months in federal prison - The Straits Times Index (STI) ended +0.94 points higher or +0.03% to 3345.93, taking the year-to-date performance to +5.72%. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained +0.08% while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index gained +0.08%. The top active stocks were SingTel (+0.26%), Global Logistic (+1.52%), DBS (-0.40%), OCBC Bank (+1.26%) and UOB (-0.42%).The outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Consumer Services Index (+0.40%). The two biggest stocks of the FTSE ST Consumer Services Index are Jardine Cycle & Carriage (+0.29%) and Genting Singapore (+0.44%). The underperforming sector was the FTSE ST Utilities Index, which declined -0.97% with United Envirotech’s share price declining -0.61% and Hyflux’s share price gaining +1.09%. The three most active Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) by value today were the IS MSCI India (+0.78%), SPDR Gold Shares (-0.22%), United SSE 50 China ETF (+2.33%). The three most active Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) by value were Suntec REIT (+0.26%), Ascendas REIT (+0.87%), CapitaMall Trust (+0.51%). The most active index warrants by value were HSI23800MBeCW141230 (+20.35%), HSI24400MBeCW141230 (+18.67%), HSI23600MBePW141230 (-20.00%) and the most active stock warrants by value today were OCBC Bk MBeCW150413 (+6.38%), KepCorp MBePW150330 (-5.88%), UOB MB eCW150415 (unchanged) - Sentiment in the Italian consumer sector has taken another step backwards according to the latest figures this month. The Italian Consumer Confidence indicator has now fallen for a seventh straight month to produce a November reading of just 100.8, from a peak above 106.0 this sentiment metric reached 101.3 last month, market expectations for today’s reading were for a slight rise to 101.6. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) yesterday published a less than optimistic report for the near term growth prospects of the Italian economy. The previous OECD report projected growth for Italy of 0.5% over the full 2014 year but this has now been revised downwards by almost a full point to forecast a 2014 contraction of -0.4%.

Are there available instruments to stimulate euro zone growth, and are they likely to be used?

Friday, 15 June 2012 Written by 
Are there available instruments to stimulate euro zone growth, and are they likely to be used? A consensus is emerging that euro zone growth must be boosted to prevent several countries from slipping into a depressive cycle where production declines and unemployment increases without the fiscal deficit or the external debt correcting. We have drawn up a list of available instruments to boost euro zone growth (wage increases, fiscal deficits, European investments, a range of actions by the ECB, weakening of the euro) and seek to determine which measures are most likely to be implemented. The risk is that agreement between European countries is only reached on policies that do not provide a substantial boost to growth in the euro zone – faster (spontaneous) wage increases in Germany, increase in investments by the EIB and structural funds, a third VLTRO, a cut in the euro repo rate – and not on policies that would have a much greater impact, such as fiscal stimulus in Germany, purchases of government bonds by the ECB, massive currency purchases (dollars) by the ECB. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

A consensus is emerging that euro zone growth must be boosted to prevent several countries from slipping into a depressive cycle where production declines and unemployment increases without the fiscal deficit or the external debt correcting.

We have drawn up a list of available instruments to boost euro zone growth (wage increases, fiscal deficits, European investments, a range of actions by the ECB, weakening of the euro) and seek to determine which measures are most likely to be implemented.

The risk is that agreement between European countries is only reached on policies that do not provide a substantial boost to growth in the euro zone – faster (spontaneous) wage increases in Germany, increase in investments by the EIB and structural funds, a third VLTRO, a cut in the euro repo rate – and not on policies that would have a much greater impact, such as fiscal stimulus in Germany, purchases of government bonds by the ECB, massive currency purchases (dollars) by the ECB.

There is a consensus over growth stimulus in the euro zone

There is a growing consensus that growth in the euro zone needs to be boosted. The recession is leading to a situation in an increasing number of countries where the fiscal deficit is no longer being reduced (Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece).



Meanwhile, despite the slowdown in domestic demand, the external deficit remains substantial in Portugal and is no longer being reduced in Spain, Greece and France due to the weakening of activity and exports in the euro zone. Indeed, rising unemployment is pushing down real wages in Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal while companies everywhere remain cautious and are investing little.

So a depressive dynamic is emerging: declining activity and falling wages without any improvement in fiscal or external deficits. This has given rise to a growing view that action needs to be taken to boost growth in the euro zone. We will therefore draw up a list of policies that could stimulate growth in this region and gauge the likelihood of these being introduced.

The (possible/likely) policies to stimulate euro-zone growth

1. Faster wage growth in Germany

Rather than an explicit economic policy, this is more the effect that full employment and high corporate profitability have on wage growth in Germany. Indeed, wage agreements reached in Germany mean an annual four per cent rise in nominal wages in 2012, or around two per cent in real terms, is conceivable. Our research suggests that every percentage point annual increase in wages in Germany results in a EUR 14 bn income injection.

2. Fiscal stimulus in Germany

Whereas other euro zone countries are having difficulty reducing their fiscal deficits, Germany has virtually eliminated its deficit. A coordinated fiscal policy in the euro zone, therefore, could involve a more expansionary fiscal policy in Germany. Indeed, a one percentage point of GDP rise in Germany’s fiscal deficit would amount to an income injection of around EUR 30 bn – a bigger boost to euro zone growth.

3. European investments

It is often suggested that, since euro zone countries have no more leeway to boost their economy, stimulus needs to be carried out at the European level, either in the form of additional investments by the EIB or in the form of additional investments by European structural funds. A 10 per cent increase in investments both by the EIB and European structural funds (excluding agricultural policy) would mean an additional EUR 14 bn of investment per year.

4. Driving down long-term interest rates through ECB government bond purchases

Spain and Italy are faced with considerably higher long-term interest rates than their growth rates, which is crippling their economies. Direct purchases of Spanish and Italian government bonds by the ECB would help to drive down their interest rates, so the Securities Markets Programme (SMP) should be reactivated for substantial amounts. Indeed, this has proved successful in the United Kingdom where massive purchases of Gilts by the Bank of England have kept long-term interest rates very low despite the magnitude of the country’s fiscal deficit. Central banks can control long-term interest rates if they are willing to buy the necessary quantity of government bonds.

5. A third VLTRO

The three-year repos in December 2011 and February 2012 enabled Spanish and Italian banks to obtain cheap funding at one per cent and finance massive purchases of domestic government bonds, which resulted in a temporary fall in interest rates on these bonds.

A fresh long-term repo would have two positive effects. It would help to finance the external deficits of Spain and Italy (and also those of other countries) as well as contribute to the financing of the fiscal deficits in Spain and Italy.

6. A cut in the euro repo rate

There is still some room for manoeuvre for a cut in the euro repo rate while maintaining a big enough margin between the repo rate and the deposit rate at the ECB. A 25 or 50 basis point cut in the repo rate would be justified in light of the euro zone’s growth outlook and the muted rise in unit wage costs. The cut would likely lead to a depreciation of the euro and bolster growth. We have projected that a 100 basis point cut in the repo rate would increase euro zone growth by 0.2 percentage point per year for two years with a 50 basis point cut by 0.1 percentage point per year.

7. Sharp depreciation of the euro

Even after its recent fall, the euro is still overvalued by around 10 per cent.

Despite the lack of buyers, the euro is depreciating only slightly because the euro zone has no external borrowing requirement. In order to obtain a sharp depreciation of the euro, the ECB would have to accumulate substantial foreign exchange reserves (mainly in dollars) without sterilising these reserves, i.e. adopting the same policy as emerging countries, Japan and Switzerland.

While a depreciation of the euro would increase activity in the euro zone as a whole, it would do little to benefit the least industrialised euro zone countries (Greece, Spain, and even France).

So which measures are likely to be implemented?

Faster wage growth in Germany is already taking place and an increase in European investments is very likely. Moreover, considering the growth outlook and the rise in long-term interest rates, a third very-long-term repo (VLTRO 3) and a cut (25 to 50 bp) in the refi rate are also likely.

However, we do not believe Germany will introduce a fiscal stimulus package (due to the refusal by the Germans to “pay for the others”), nor will there be a reactivation of the SMP (the monetisation of public debts jars with the ECB and Germany), nor foreign-exchange interventions to drive down the euro (due to the resulting monetary creation, since it would not be sterilised).

Meanwhile, the effectiveness of a VLTRO 3 is questionable: do the banks want to buy more government bonds at a time when interest-rate risk is still high and there will be other stress tests on government bond portfolios in the future?

We are therefore  left with a stimulus consisting in EUR 14 bn in wages in Germany, EUR 14 bn in European investments and a 25 to 50 bp cut in the repo rate, which could add 0.2 percentage points per year to euro zone growth at best.

Patrick Artus

A graduate of Ecole Polytechnique, of Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Adminstration Economique and of Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, Patrick Artus is today the Chief Economist at Natixis. He began his career in 1975 where his work included economic forecasting and modelisation. He then worked at the Economics Department of the OECD (1980), before becoming Head of Research at the ENSAE. Thereafter, Patrick taught seminars on research at Paris Dauphine (1982) and was Professor at a number of Universities (including Dauphine, ENSAE, Centre des Hautes Etudes de l'Armement, Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées and HEC Lausanne).

Patrick is now Professor of Economics at University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. He combines these responsibilities with his research work at Natixis. Patrick was awarded "Best Economist of the year 1996" by the "Nouvel Economiste", and today is a member of the council of economic advisors to the French Prime Minister. He is also a board member at Total and Ipsos.

Website: cib.natixis.com/research/economic.aspx

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