Thursday 26th November 2015
NEWS TICKER, THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 26TH: In the last six months River and Mercantile Group (R&M) says has been appointed to design, execute and provide ongoing management of over £1.7bn of structured equity options mandates for pension clients, including the Royal Mail Pension Plan and another FTSE 100 company’s pension scheme. James Barham, global head of Distribution at R&M, says, "With increased volatility in equity markets, we have seen a growing number of clients that are taking advantage of our market leading derivative capabilities to manage the downside exposure in their equity portfolios. The derivatives team at R&M has an exceptional long term track record in designing and managing structured equity solutions for clients over the last ten years. We continue to see significant demand from pensions and institutional clients for structured equity to actively manage the profile of their equity investment returns while maintaining their allocation to equities. The design and execution of these mandate demonstrates R&M’s ability to design innovative, outcome oriented solutions for our clients, which are delivered to meet their governance requirements.” - Demand to borrow Asian stocks surged in the wake of the recent market volatility reports Markit. While short sellers have since pulled back slightly, the current demand to borrow shares across the region is still up by a fifth since the start of the year. Short interest across Asia is up by 18% year to date, reaching 2.7% of free float. However, says Markit, Japanese short selling has been relatively flat since the start of the year. The firm adds that consumer sectors have made Australia the most shorted country in the region - Trayport, a provider of energy trading solutions to traders and exchanges, says Power Solutions Enerji Ticaret ve Danışmanlık Anonim Şirketi has chosen Trayport’s GlobalVision Broker Trading SystemSM (BTS) for trading in the Turkish power market. Power Solutions, founded in Turkey in 2015, provides OTC Brokerage services in the Turkish electricity market.. The Trayport BTS offers brokers access to a growing network of traders using Trayport’s trading technology - The Dutch residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) market remained strong during the three-month period ended September 2015, according to the latest indices published by Moody's The 60+ day delinquencies of Dutch RMBS, including Dutch mortgage loans benefitting from a Nationale Hypotheek Garantie, continued to decrease to 0.73% in September 2015 from 0.81% in June 2015. The 90+ day delinquencies also continued to decrease to 0.56% in September 2015 from 0.64% in June 2015. Cumulative defaults increased to 0.78% of the original balance, plus additions (in the case of master issuers) and replenishments, in September 2015 from 0.70% in June 2015. This compares to cumulative defaults of 0.49% in September 2014. Cumulative losses increased to 0.15% in September 2015 from 0.14% in June 2015. Moody's has assigned definitive credit ratings to two new transactions since the last publication of the Index on September 9th, including five classes of notes issued by STORM 2015-II BV. and two classed of notes issued by Hypenn RMBS IV BV. As of the end of September, the 107 Moody's-rated Dutch RMBS transactions had an outstanding pool balance of €217.9bn, representing a year-over-year decrease of 4.8% - Thanksgiving holidays in the US has coloured trading today. In the Asia-Pac, low commodities prices are weighing on the Australian economy. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.3% in thin trading volumes across the whole Asia-Pac region. With the exception of the Australian dollar, trading volumes were ridiculously small EUR/USD traded within a 10 pips range between 1.0615 and 1.0625. Similarly, GBP/USD traded sideways between 1.5115 and 1.5131. According to Yann Quelenn, market analyst at Swissquote: “When commodities price lower, there is a transfer of wealth between exporters (producers) and importers of commodities. The decline favours industries that need commodities as primary source for manufacturing products. Australia is on the exporters’ side. Indeed, an important part of the Australian’s revenues accounts for the revenues on the extraction of gold, silver, platinum and other metals. Materials shares fell 1.3%, and are down 4.6% so far this week, with commodities like copper and nickel having tumbled to multiyear lows. In Japan, The Nikkei Stock Average ended the day up 0.5% at 19944.41, while and South Korea's Kospi rose 1.1%. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.3% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed flat. Japan shares have posted one of the strongest rebounds in the region since September. The Nikkei is the second-best performing market in Asia year to date with a gain of 14%. China's Shenzhen Composite Index is up 65% year to date. The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 6.89 points or 0.24% lower to 2884.69, taking the year-to-date performance to -14.28%. The top active stocks today were OCBC Bank, which declined 0.91%, SingTel, which gained 0.26%, UOB, which declined 1.79%, DBS, which declined 0.36% and Global Logistic, with a 1.91% fall. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index declined 0.05%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index declined0.84%.In Brazil, the BCB left rates unchanged at 14.25% yesterday in spite of rampant inflation. The latest economic survey by the central bank showed that inflation expectations are not anchored yet as it is expected to reach 10.33% by year-end and 6.64% by the end of 2016. Broadly, expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in December has pushed the yen weaker. The currency has weakened 3.1% against the U.S. dollar in the past three months. Japan shares nevertheless remain vulnerable to global central bank moves and geopolitical tensions - The London Metal Exchange's three-month copper contract closed down 1.3% at $4,549 a metric ton on Wednesday. Copper last traded at $4,692.50 a metric ton, up from the opening price of $4,538 a ton on Thursday. Overnight, the latest U.S. report on jobless claims pointed to a strengthening employment picture, pushing the dollar higher. U.S. stocks ended mostly unchanged as consumer discretionary and health-care shares offset losses in other sectors on the last full trading day of the week before the Thanksgiving holiday. Brent oil futures fell 0.2% to $46.06 a barrel. US crude-oil futures rose 0.2% to $43.13 a barrel. Gold prices were up 0.3% at $1,073.50 a troy ounce.

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The European Review

By Patrick Artus, chief economist at Natixis

France’s industrial crisis: predictable and set to last

Friday, 03 August 2012 Written by 
France’s industrial crisis: predictable and set to last France’s industrial sector is in the midst of a steadily worsening crisis. There has been a decline in production, employment and productive investment, the external deficit remains significant, and export market shares are declining rapidly. We would argue that this situation was foreseeable, particularly if we add up issues with supply, domestic and external demand, and the impact of the eurozone crisis. Unfortunately, not a lot can be done about the weakness of demand, and the remedies to the supply problem are difficult to implement rapidly.

France’s industrial sector is in the midst of a steadily worsening crisis. There has been a decline in production, employment and productive investment, the external deficit remains significant, and export market shares are declining rapidly.

We would argue that this situation was foreseeable, particularly if we add up issues with supply, domestic and external demand, and the impact of the eurozone crisis. Unfortunately, not a lot can be done about the weakness of demand, and the remedies to the supply problem are difficult to implement rapidly.

Let’s go through these issues, their causes and their implications.

Cause no. 1: The supply problem

Supply conditions for goods and services continue to deteriorate in France. The low profitability of companies discourages investment hence the production capacity of French industry is on the decline.

Since 2001, French industry sales prices have been falling relative to unit wage costs. Such falls reflect the excessive level of unit wage costs compared to the sophistication of industrial production in France. The downmarket nature of French industrial production prevents an increase in its selling prices, because of the high level of the price elasticity of demand for industrial products made in France: 0.9 versus 0.3 in Germany.

However, the rise in the unit wage cost – relative to selling prices – does not come as a result of the trend in productivity, but what has been happening to wages. This is because the level of costs is pushed up by the level of employers’ welfare contributions.

The subsequent fall in French industry’s profitability is substantial, reducing its capacity to invest and create jobs. This leads to the off-shoring of production capacity to countries where industrial profitability is higher, thereby weakening industry financially and threatening it with a serious crisis in the event of a recession and falling demand.

Cause no. 2: The demand problem

Between 2011 and 2012, French industry suffered from the weakness of both domestic and external demand. This resulted in a lower capacity utilisation rate than normal, which makes the problem of low profitability even more detrimental. And the decline in demand may deteriorate further if there is a fall in real wage incomes and government expenditure.

Cause no. 3: The euro-zone crisis

The eurozone crisis has two negative effects on French industry:

  1. it weakens demand and therefore imports in the eurozone countries that usually would have been France’s customers. This is significant because the eurozone accounts for 46% of French exports – the United Kingdom, which is also mired in a recession, accounts for 6%;
  2. it reduces domestic demand and capacity utilisation rates in Spain and Portugal and persuades industrial companies in these countries to turn to exports. As wage costs are lower in these countries, there is an increase in the competition that has a direct impact on French industry. France’s export market share tends to decline, whereas those of PortugalSpain and Ireland have recovered.

Remedies are very difficult to implement

Of the three issues mentioned, weakness of demand and the effects of the eurozone crisis cannot be controlled, particularly in a situation where there is private-sector deleveraging and a reduction in fiscal deficits. The question for French industry is therefore which remedies can be implemented on the supply side? We have put together the following list of possible measures:


  • an improvement in the sophistication of industrial production and in the differentiation of products, which will require innovation, investments, and marketing;
  • increased geographical diversification in companies' sales to increase the weight of emerging countries, which is currently quite low in France;
  • a major reform of the financing of social welfare in France to reduce the weight of welfare contributions paid by companies;
  • a fall in the hourly labour cost, either through a fall in the per capita wage, or through an increase in the number of hours worked (which is obviously a source of conflict).


However, these measures are all very difficult to implement rapidly.

It is also important to understand the major fragility of companies that are not very profitable (i.e. they have a shortfall in supply) when they are faced with a significant and lasting decline in demand.

Unfortunately, it looks as though this French industry crisis is not going to go away any time soon.

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.


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