Wednesday 6th May 2015
NEWS TICKER: WEDNESDAY, MAY 6TH 2015: According to Mineweb, silver prices on average will decline 14% this year as speculation over US interest rates spurs a shift to alternative assets. Silver will drop to $16.50 an ounce from the average fixing price of $19.08 in 2014, Andrew Leyland, manager of precious- metal demand at Thomson Reuters GFMS, told Mineweb in advance of Thomson Reuters'World Silver Survey 2015 on behalf of the Washington-based Silver Institute. Silver futures fell 2.7% last month - The Federal Reserve Bank of New York will release its Q1 2015 Household Debt and Credit Report Tuesday, May 12 at 11:00 am. The Household Debt and Credit Report offers an updated snapshot of household trends in borrowing and indebtedness, including data about mortgages, student loans, credit cards, auto loans and delinquencies. 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Moody's expects to remove the "/LD" suffix after approximately three business days. The outlook on all ratings remains negative - A major new campaign ‘World of Talent in Ireland’ was today launched by the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland and IDA Ireland. The campaign will initially target Ireland’s global graduate community, highlighting abroad the career opportunities that now exist in Ireland, with a view to attracting talent here. Speaking on the launch of the campaign Mark Redmond, Chief Executive of the American Chamber said “For Ireland to continue to grow its economy it will be essential that we attract the best and the brightest talent from across the world. This campaign is about reaching out to anyone who attended college here and therefore has an affinity with Ireland but is currently living and working elsewhere. We want to ensure that they know the great career opportunities that now exist here and how they can avail of them” - Idinvest Partners, the European private equity firm specialising in SMEs, has announced the final closing of its Idinvest Digital Fund II at €140m. The fund is entirely dedicated to financing the growth of developing businesses in the digital and new technology segments (web-based, media, mobile, e-commerce services and software) in France and across Europe. The fund has invested in ten companies so far, including Sigfox, Synthesio and Twenga; 30% of the capital has been called in and the fund is already delivering positive returns. The fund has also gathered prominent investors, such as Bpifrance and Idinvest’s historical partner, Allianz France, who are topping the list. Besides these, there is also a large number of insurance companies, banks, family offices and leading industry players and corporates, such as Lagardère and Up groups - According to local press reports, Botswana’s largest retailer Choppies plans to cross-list its shares at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange by the end of May, as it expand its business in sub-Saharan Africa. The multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer has stores in three Southern Africa countries and is reportedly looking to expand into Zambia and Tanzania this year. The firm will list 10% of its shares and plans to raise about $50m. Choppies commands a market capitalization of about $535mon the Botswana Stock Exchange and has a 32% share of Botswana’s retail market and plans to add five more stores, taking the total to 77 retail outlets, by December, followed by another 20 in the medium term - Credit Agricole Egypt (CAE) reports net profit of EGP236m (+60% YoY and +8% QoQ) in 1Q2015 and net interest income of EGP371m in (+30% YoY and +7% QoQ)over the period, higher than analyst forecasts. No other income statement component was disclosed, with the exception of taxes (around EGP104m for the period, signifying an effective tax rate of around 31%). Full financial statements are not available yet - The European Union is reported to be investigating McDonald's over claims its structure allowed it to avoid more than €1bn (£730m) in tax. It is alleged that the fast food purveyor exploited loophole concerning royalties through Luxembourg, allowing it to pay just €16m of tax on royalties worth €3.7bn between 2009 and 2013. Unions claim McDonald's Luxembourg subsidiary employs just 13 people, yet booked €834m of revenue in 2013 - roughly around €64m per worker - Smith Cooper accountancy and business advisory firm today announced the appointment of Catherine Desmond as partner to enhance the firm's private client services across the Midlands. Desmond joins the firm from the Private Client department of Saffery Champness where she specialised in advising clients across a range of sectors, including predominantly family businesses and landed estates. In her new role at Smith Cooper, Catherine will be concentrating on further developing the range of tax planning services the firm offer their private clients. Her work will focus particularly on the agricultural sector and landed estates, an area Desmond has extensive experience in - Nomis Solutions has appointed Michael DeGusta to lead the architecture and development of the company’s next-generation pricing platform. Working with progressive technology companies such as Apple, eCoverage, and ChoicePoint, DeGusta brings 20 years of experience to Nomis. “Retail banks face unprecedented challenges, and Michael is the ideal leader to architect our future and to bring Nomis and our client banks to the next level of price optimization and profitability management,” says Frank Rohde, Nomis CEO. “The bankers we meet with relate a growing awakening to the opportunities provided by innovative technology and how it can help them thrive in the face of mediocre economies, changing customers, disruptive competitors, and challenging regulators.” -

Blog

The European Review

By Patrick Artus, chief economist at Natixis

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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