Monday 2nd March 2015
NEWS TICKER, MARCH 2ND 2015: Turnover at Deutsche Börse’s cash markets at €125.5bn euros last month. Order book turnover on Xetra, Börse Frankfurt and Tradegate Exchange across all asset classes stood at €125.5bn in February (February 2014: €102.6bn). Of that, €113.4bn was attributable to Xetra (February 2014: €93.4 billion). The average daily turnover on Xetra stood at €5.7bn last month (February 2014: €4.7bn). Meantime, Börse Frankfurt reported turnover of €4.9bn was (February 2014: €4.7bn). Order book turnover on Tradegate Exchange touched approximately €7.2bn in February (February 2014: €4.6bn). Broken down by asset classes, turnover in equities reached about €107.1bn. Turnover in ETFs/ETCs/ETNs amounted to €15.9bn. Turnover in bonds was €0.7bn, and in structured products €1.5bn. Viewed by transactions, a total of 18.0m trades were executed on Xetra in February (February 2014: 16.7m). - Moody's has released a special edition of its compendium of Asian oil and gas research, following the collapse of crude oil prices in recent months. The compendium, covering both corporates and sovereigns in the region. "The steep drop in crude oil prices since mid-2014 will materially reduce the earnings and cash flows of Asian oil & gas companies and weaken their credit metrics in 2015," says Vikas Halan, a Moody's vice president and senior credit officer. "At the same time the low prices will benefit most Asia Pacific sovereigns, given the region's status as a net oil importer," adds Halan. Crude prices more than halved between June 2014 and January 2015, reflecting higher-than-expected oil production in the US and lower demand in emerging markets. At the same time, with the slowing growth in worldwide demand, oil markets will likely remain oversupplied in the next two years. The demand-supply imbalance may be exacerbated if China's economic growth slows sharply or if significant lifting of economic sanctions on Iran further increases oil volumes. Moody's has lowered its price assumptions for Brent crude to $55/barrel through 2015 and $65/barrel in 2016. - Businesses are increasingly collecting and using data from, and about, consumers. This includes the identity of their customers, what they consume, where they live and work and other demographic information. It also includes information on who they connect with, their interests and attitudes. The UK Competition and Markets Authority is calling for information in a fact-finding exercise to help understand fully how businesses collect and use this data for commercial purposes and the implications for firms and consumers. Response forms can be found on the authority’s website - According to local press reports, Malaysia-based healthcare group Qualitas Healthcare Corporation Ltd, will decide this week either to list on Bursa Malaysia or put itself up for sale. The estimated value for the firm is reportedly around MYR1.2bn and press reports say it is in active negotiations with at least three potential buyers – International law firm Ropes & Gray has advised Crescent Capital Partners Management Pty Limited (Crescent) on the successful establishment of the over-subscribed Crescent Capital Partners V (Crescent V). An AUD675m fund, Crescent V will seek to invest in middle market businesses primarily in Australia and New Zealand with a focus on companies worth between AUD50m and AUD300m - MEPs will this week focus on the €315bn investment plan to boost growth in Europe, discussing with experts its three pillars: an investment fund, an advisory hub and a project pipeline. On Monday afternoon the economic affairs and budget committees hold a hearing with experts to discuss the €315bn investment plan for Europe as proposed by the European Commission - permanent tsb (PTSB), the Irish retail bank, will be using SAS solutions to deliver quicker and more efficient credit-decisioning, says the bank. Analysing this data in real-time will enable the bank to make quicker decisions that reflect each customer’s circumstances - The Straits Times Index (STI) ended +1.03 points higher or +0.03% to 3403.89, taking the year-to-date performance to +1.15%. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index declined -0.39% while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index declined -1.14%. The top active stocks were SingTel (+0.47%), DBS (-1.48%), OCBC Bank (-0.86%), Noble (-3.08%) and UOB (-0.04%). The outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Consumer Goods Index (+0.68%). The two biggest stocks of the FTSE ST Consumer Goods Index are Wilmar International (+0.31%) and Thai Beverage (+2.14%). The underperforming sector was the FTSE ST Basic Materials Index, which declined -3.44% with Midas Holdings’ share price gaining +1.61% and Geo Energy Resources’ share price declining -1.57%. The three most active Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) by value today were the STI ETF (-0.29%), IS MSCI India (+0.37%), SPDR Gold Shares (+1.10%).

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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. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

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.

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

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