Wednesday 25th May 2016
News ticker: Chubb today announced the appointment of Joe Fernandez, formerly D&O and Financial Institutions Product Manager for legacy ACE in Continental Europe, to the new role of financial lines product manager for Eurasia and Africa for Chubb, as it continues to invest in building its insurance capabilities in its newest business region. In his new role, Joe will be responsible for the development and implementation of financial lines underwriting strategies in Eurasia and Africa. He will also be responsible for employee financial lines products training. Joe will continue to be based in London, reporting to Grant Cairns, financial lines manager for Chubb in the UK and Ireland. His appointment is effective immediately. Fernandez has 18 years of insurance industry experience. He joined ACE in 2004 as corporate manager for Commercial D&O. Previously he held the position of corporate manager for Commercial D&O at AIG— Commenting on Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s Annual General Meeting, Ashley Hamilton Claxton, corporate governance manager at Royal London Asset Management, said: “The senior executive pay awards last year are not sufficiently justified by the company’s financial performance. We remain disappointed that the chief executive received very close to the maximum possible bonus in a year when overall financial performance was weak. Whilst the board did exercise some discretion in reducing the awards, we believe they could have done more. We also think the peer group of four companies that Shell uses to benchmark its long term incentive plans (LTIPs) is too narrow. However, we do acknowledge that despite a tough operating year, the company has had several successes in 2015, including the completion of the BG Group deal. We also appreciate that Shell has made very positive steps in responding to the concerns raised by its investors and we will be engaging with the company going forward.” Royal London Asset Management holds shares in Royal Dutch Shell worth £936m - UBS AG has opened a stock-index futures brokerage service in China. The brokerage will support clients wanting to trade on futures on the CSI 300, SSE 50 and CSI 500 indexes as well as treasury futures say local press reports - Tuesday, May 24th: Pakistan reportedly plans to sell a 40% stake in its stock exchange according to its managing director Nadeem Naqvi who announced the sale at an investment conference organised by Renaissance Capital in London yesterday. The exchange has approached the London, Shanghai, Istanbul and Qatar stock exchanges he said, explaining that a further 20% share will be sold in the local stock market. The sell-off is part of a government led privatisation program, involving some 70 companies following the disbursement of a $6.7bn IMF rescue package back in 2013. The terms of the loan end in September - Moody's Investors Service (Moody's) has confirmed the Ba3 corporate family rating (CFR) and Ba3-PD probability of default rating (PDR) of Russian vertically integrated steel and mining company Evraz Group S.A. (Evraz), and the B1 (LGD 5) senior unsecured ratings assigned to the notes issued by Evraz and Raspadskaya Securities Ltd. The outlook on all the ratings is negative – According to defence title Janes, The China Nuclear Engineering and Construction Corporation (CNEC) - one of China’s 10 key defence industrial enterprises - has entered an agreement with China's Minsheng Banking Corp to support its impending initial public offering (IPO) of 2.6bn shares on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, which is expected to raise around $250m. China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND), which oversees the development of the country's aerospace and defence industry, said on 23 May that the agreement with the bank will support CNEC's "leap forward" towards "strategic development" - Thailand-based developer of integrated e-logistics trading and e-business service solutions Netbay says it is planning to offer 40m shares, equivalent to 20% of the registered and paid-up capital, in an initial public offering (IPO) and expects to get listed on the Market for Alternative Investment (MAI) next month. The company has the registered capital of THB200m. The firm has reportedly s appointed Maybank Kim Eng (Thailand) as financial advisor and underwriter. Netbay CEO Pichit Viwatrujira-pong says that the proceeds would be used to expand its business and increase the working capital. It targets the revenue growth of 20% this year, up from THB223m last year – Old Mutual has moved closer to the IPO of Old Mutual Wealth next year as it confirmed in a JSE announcement today that it was close to selling its stake in Old Mutual Asset Management (OMAM) to Affiliated Managers’ Group in a deal valued at $1bn - Zhouheiya Food Co. is expected to file an application for a Hong Kong listing in the next couple of weeks, looking to raise up to $500m, reports the Wall Street Journal today - UK operator Vodafone has announced its Group Chief Commercial Operations and Strategy Officer, Paolo Bertoluzzo, is going to step down after 17 years with the company to take a CEO role at payment and general financial services company Istituto Centrale delle Banche Popolari Italiane (ICBPI). Vodafone says it will announce a successor in ‘due course’ - The number of money laundering convictions and confiscations is relatively low given the size and characteristics of Jersey’s financial sector according to the latest report on the UK’s Crown Dependency of Jersey from the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), adopted in December 2015. Apparently, this is the last in a cycle of MONEYVAL evaluation reports based on methodology set out by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in 2004. MONEYVAL is currently evaluating its members according to the FATF’s updated 2013 methodology.

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France needs supply-side policies to stimulate growth

Tuesday, 14 February 2012 Written by 
France needs supply-side policies to stimulate growth France’s ailing economy urgently requires stimulation – and this must come from supply-side policies. Previously buoyed by borrowing, the strength of real estate and an increase in fiscal deficits, France is now suffering from significant economic weaknesses that can only be overcome by a stimulation of supply via institutional, tax and labour market reforms. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

France’s ailing economy urgently requires stimulation – and this must come from supply-side policies. Previously buoyed by borrowing, the strength of real estate and an increase in fiscal deficits, France is now suffering from significant economic weaknesses that can only be overcome by a stimulation of supply via institutional, tax and labour market reforms.

 

The French economy is experiencing a decline in investment, an inability to rebuild exports, continuing market share losses and a rapid rise in unemployment. Although previously bolstered by an increase in private sector indebtedness, growth in residential construction (until 2008), and a temporary increase in fiscal deficits, economic growth has fallen to virtually zero as of the second quarter of 2011.



However, unlike similar situations in Spain and the UK, France’s underperformance is due to a deterioration of supply rather than a decline in demand. Certainly, France’s weak economy cannot be blamed on a rapid correction in the fiscal deficit, nor to a decline in real wages. In fact, there has been a worsening of supply-side conditions since the late 1990s, highlighted by a decline in profitability, the tightening of profit margins (particularly in the industrial sector) and the distortion of income sharing in favour of wages and to the detriment of profits, itself the equivalent to an economy-wide fall in profit margins.

The result is a country where companies are hampered by poor levels of investment. Indeed, the economy has become stuck in a mid-market product range, as portrayed by the sharp drop in French exports caused by an appreciation in the euro. Furthermore, France is exhibiting advanced deindustrialisation (in the past decade both manufacturing employment and manufacturing volume as a proportion of GDP have steadily decreased), weak growth of companies (limiting the number of companies big enough to export) and a high proportion of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) that are prematurely sold to large groups. 

Reforms to restore the economy

Supply-side reforms are urgently required: in particular, tax reform to reduce companies’ welfare contributions, labour market negotiations to take into account both wages and employment, and institutional reforms to encourage the growth of innovative SMEs.

Firstly, France must reduce welfare contributions, especially those paid by companies. It is well known that welfare contributions negatively affect employment. Therefore to boost the supply of goods, and the demand for labour, there needs to be a reduction in government expenditure on wages and welfare benefits, or (as happened in Germany and the UK in 2007 and 2011 respectively) an increase in VAT.

Secondly, the country’s labour market lacks a corrective force in periods of rising unemployment. Current pay talks are purely wage-based and do not take into account the need to reduce unemployment and create new jobs. The result is that increasing unemployment does not have a significant impact on wages and therefore unemployment levels can remain high for long periods without reducing wages.

Therefore the government needs to ensure that pay talks involve both wages and jobs, in order to create a trade-off between wage increases and job creation. Certainly, the close link between unemployment and wage increases can be seen in Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK – a labour market scenario that France must replicate.

Finally, institutional reforms are needed to boost SME growth. France’s already weak export levels are compounded by the low proportion of companies big enough to export their goods. In order to stimulate growth among SMEs, France should create a Small Business Act and Small Business Administration to improve relationships between large groups and their subcontractors, simplify administrative paperwork and improve cooperation between companies and the education system.

Going forward

In the short term, these reforms (government spending cuts, a VAT hike, reduction in wages in exchange for additional jobs, etc.) would inevitably lead to a fall in demand. But the current view – that the solution to the economy’s woes lies in stimulating demand – must be abandoned in favour of supply-side policies if a recovery is to be achieved. 

The acute question remains in play: Is there a political party ready to carry out this programme after the presidential elections?

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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