Wednesday 10th February 2016
NEWS TICKER: KPMG has appointed Adrian Stone as its UK head of audit with immediate effect, succeeding Tony Cates who now leads KPMG's international markets and government practice. Stone joined KPMG's Sheffield office in 1984 and has been an audit partner since 1997. He previously held several senior roles in KPMG's audit practice including head of audit for the north of England and Scotland, chief operating officer for the UK audit practice, head of internal audit and head of KPMG's department of professional practice. He has been KPMG's interim head of audit since November last year - Bridge Bank says it has provided faith based Spark Networks with a $10m revolving credit facility - BNP Paribas Securities Services has been appointed by Sampo Group, the Finnish financial services group, to provide global custody and settlement services for Sampo’s €25bn of insurance assets held globally - Saudi Arabia is reportedly reconsidering the requirement for foreign companies setting up in the country to have a local partner. A committee led by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Labour, will look at ways to spur additional inward investment into the realm, according to newspaper Asharq Al Awsat. The committee is expected to ease the bureaucratic barriers for foreign firms that want access to the Saudi Arabian economy. Foreign direct investment is vital as the kingdom looks to make up foreign exchange losses and balance its $98bn budget deficit – European president Donald Tusk met with Georgian premier Giorgi Kvirikashvili today. Discussion focused on continued reforms of the Georgian judiciary, rule of law and human rights are important priorities and I underlined the EU's readiness to assist. It is crucial that criminal investigations and prosecutions be evidence-based, transparent and impartial, in line with the commitments of the Association Agreement. “I share Georgia's concerns about the continued implementation of the so-called “treaties" between Russia and Abkhazia and South Ossetia. I saw for myself the situation at the administrative boundary line, including the "borderisation" [sic] process, during my last visit to Georgia,” said Tusk following the meeting. The European Union will continue to give its firm support for the territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders.” - February 9th 2016: The Polish Financial Supervision Authority (KNF) at its meeting today confirmed the appointment of Małgorzata Zaleska as President of the Management Board of the Warsaw Stock Exchange, following her appointment as president on January 12th. Zaleska is the director of the Institute of Banking, Warsaw School of Economics; the Chairperson of the Committee of Finance Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences; a member of the NBP Economic Research Committee; a member of the Central Commission for Degrees in Finance – Today’s equity markets tell a tale of fears of a global slowdown with even the US considered a candidate for recession. The US session yesterday was not pretty, with the S&P500 down 1.42%. The index has lost around 9% of its value this year and is now 13% below the nominal high that it reached last year. The DJIA was down 1.1% and Nasdaq100 fell 1.59%. The Nasdaq100 is now 17.92% below the nominal high that it reached last year. Swissquote says: “The sentiment is risk-off at the moment, with gold reaching $1,200 for the first time since June. Gold’s bullish momentum continues yet commodity linked currencies such as the AUD and NZD failed to gain the advantage as outside precious metals and other commodities broadly fell. In particular, WTI Crude is now back around below $30 a barrel over continued oversupply concerns. Markets are now fearing that this period of lingering low oil prices could last a long time”. – In the Asian session Japanese stocks fell more than 5% and the yield on the benchmark government bond dropped into negative territory for the first time. The decision by the Bank of Japan to introduce negative interest rates looks to have pushed down yields for both short and longer termed bonds. In afternoon trading in the Asian session, the benchmark 10-year government bond was yielding minus 0.025; in other words, investors were willing to lend the over-indebted Japanese government money for 10 years and get back less than they put in. Remember that Japanese sovereign debt is more than double the country’s GDP. The question is now, how far down can yields go? Moreover, when will central banks stop flirting with negative interest rates. It is a dangerous policy. The stock market took the brunt of investor fears today, as the Nikkei Stock Average closed y down 5.4%, falling 918.86 points to finish at 16,085.44. This is a sizeable drop and the largest one-day fall for about two and a half years. Yet again, the yen did well, rising against the US dollar to 114.80. Financial shares took the brunt of today’s pain with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. (MTU) shares closing down 8.7%, and Nomura Holdings losing 9.1%. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 ended the session 2.9% lower, and New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 was down 1.3%. India's Sensex was 1.2% lower. Chinese, Singapore and Korean markets are closed today. In Europe, equity futures are mixed. The CAC40 has dropped 0.22%, the DAX is down 0.21% while the FTSE100 is unchanged, but there’s still half a day’s trading to go.

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The European Review

By Patrick Artus, chief economist at Natixis

Avoid investing in German financial assets

Wednesday, 09 May 2012 Written by 
Avoid investing in German financial assets It may seem tempting to invest in German financial or property assets: Germany's economic and financial situation is at present far better than that of the other euro-zone countries, and German assets have outperformed those of the other euro-zone countries. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

It may seem tempting to invest in German financial or property assets: Germany's economic and financial situation is at present far better than that of the other euro-zone countries, and German assets have outperformed those of the other euro-zone countries.

But it should be realised that: German assets are overvalued because the euro zone's monetary policy is too expansionary for Germany and because German investors have a very significant domestic bias while the supply of assets is small and Germany risks economic and financial overheating which could lead to a correction in asset prices in the medium term.

German financial assets might seem attractive
German financial and property assets might seem attractive for two reasons. First, because the present economic and financial situation in Germany is far better than in other euro-zone countries. This is reflected in its public finances, current-account balance, the size of its industry and export capacity, its cost-competitiveness, corporate profitability and investment drive, and in its labour market - which is now experiencing rises in real wages, compared to falling real wages in the rest of the euro zone. All in all, given that Germany does not need to reduce its fiscal deficit, and given the rise in real wages, better export performance, increasing business investment and job creation, the growth outlook is at present far better in Germany than in the other euro-zone countries.



The second reason why German assets could seem attractive is that their recent performance has been strong. This is true for government bonds, equities, corporate bonds, bank debts and residential real estate (but not commercial real estate), since 2008.

But in reality, investment in German assets should be avoided, because they are too expensive and Germany could start overheating

German assets are too expensive
Since 2006, Germany has witnessed and will continue to maintain stronger growth than the euro zone as a whole. This means that the euro zone's current monetary policy is too expansionary for Germany, as it was for the rest of the euro zone from 2002 to 2007. This of course tends to cause a rise in asset prices.

Also, Germany has excess savings (by households and companies, as shown by its external surplus) with an increasing bias for investing domestically, while at the same time the supply of assets is small: meaning the fiscal deficit has almost disappeared, companies are self-financed and issue few bonds and residential construction is at a low level. There is therefore ex ante excess demand for German assets, which has driven up asset prices, especially for safe-haven government bonds.

Germany could start overheating in the medium term
Germany is practically in a situation of full employment, and since its companies are very profitable, wage growth is accelerating. In 2012-2013 an increase in the unit wage cost approaching 3% can be expected, with productivity gains that are fairly low. This will probably lead to a rise in underlying inflation towards 2%, and hence to even more abnormally low long-term interest rates, which will continue to push up the prices of other assets.

It is well known that such a situation of overheating (full employment and interest rates that are too low relative to growth) is potentially unstable and can lead to a downward correction in asset prices (as it occurred in Spain, Ireland and the United States, for example).

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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