Friday 27th February 2015
NEWS TICKER, FEBRUARY 26TH 2015: The CME Group says that the volume in the Mexican peso interest rate clearing in the opening weeks of 2015 has outstripped the volume recorded in the whole of 2014. January was a particularly good month, with record volume m with $50bn cleared (MXN760bn), and $163bn cleared since launch. Meanwhile open Interest has grown to over $139.5bn (MXN2trn) – doubling since the start of the year - Italy’s payment systems specialist SIA reports operating margin up 22.5% at €81.9m and revenues up 7% at €336.9m over the 2014 financial year. The firm says it has proposed an ordinary dividend of €0.21 per share, with a total value of €35.68m. The firm reports a substantive 146% growth in the number of payment transactions processed through 2014 (touching 12bn over the year, with 9.2bn of those related to credit transfers (up 316%) and 3bn via cards (up 9%). The firm also reports a 5% increase in trading and post-trading operations, with service levels of 100%. The firm notes the success of its “Jiffy” service launch in the year, the new “Person to Person” (P2P) payments service, an App permitting money transfer in real time by Smartphone to a user’s contacts, associating the IBAN code of the account with the phone number included - The Straits Times Index (STI) ended -14.65 points lower or -0.43% to 3426.18, taking the year-to-date performance to +1.81%. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index declined -0.31% while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index declined -0.29%. The top active stocks were SingTel (-0.47%), DBS (-0.66%), Global Logistic (+1.17%), UOB (-0.26%) and OCBC Bank (-0.38%). The outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Consumer Goods Index (+0.77%). The two biggest stocks of the FTSE ST Consumer Goods Index are Wilmar International (+1.85%) and Thai Beverage (+0.71%). The underperforming sector was the FTSE ST Basic Materials Index, which declined -1.28% with Midas Holdings’s share price declining 3.08% and Geo Energy Resources’s share price unchanged. The three most active Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) by value today were the IS MSCI India (-0.12%), STI ETF (-0.87%), SPDR Gold Shares (+0.50%). The three most active Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) by value were CapitaMall Trust (unchanged), Ascendas REIT (-1.59%), Suntec REIT (-0.51%). The most active index warrants by value today were HSI25000MBeCW150330 (+5.50%), HSI25000MBeCW150429 (+7.38%), HSI24400MBePW150330 (-10.11%). The most active stock warrants by value today were OCBC Bk MBeCW150803 (-5.74%), SGX MB eCW150803 (-1.16%), DBS MB eCW150915 (-5.33%) -World Bank today called for more transparency in India's power subsidy regime and suggested re-identification of the target population to improve the balance-sheets of losses-stricken distribution companies. The global development finance body says the sector should be allowed to operate in a commercially viable manner by ensuring that those firms that are not eligible for subsidy pay for what they consume - The country witnessed a decline of 12 per cent in solar power generation at a total 883 MW last year, according to energy consulting firm Mercom Capital Group. Total solar energy installations in 2013 stood at 1,004 MW, it said. However, its 2015 forecast remained unchanged at an approximately 1,800 MW with some upside - BNP Paribas Securities Services has appointed Andrea Cattaneo as head of Brazil. "We have expanded our custody offering in Brazil and across Latin America in recent years with great success," says Alvaro Camuñas, head of Spain and Latin America at BNP Paribas SS - A new draft text on an EU system for the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data, tabled by lead MEP Timothy Kirkhope (ECR, UK), was discussed in the civil liberties committee on Thursday morning. An evaluation of the necessity and proportionality of the proposal in the face of current security threats, its scope (list of offences covered), retention periods, the inclusion or exclusion of intra-EU flights, the connection with the on-going data protection reform, as well as the consequences of the EU Court of Justice judgement annulling the 2006 data retention directive, were among the issues discussed by MEPs. The 2011 Commission proposal would require more systematic collection, use and retention of PNR data on passengers taking “international” flights (those entering the EU from, or leaving it for, a third country), and would therefore have an impact on the rights to privacy and data protection.

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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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