Wednesday 7th October 2015
NEWS TICKER: Tuesday, October 6th: Vistra (UK) Limited ('Vistra') is pleased to announce the appointment of Barry Gowdy as Director, effective 1st October. Gowdy joins Vistra from RBC Wealth Management, where he was responsible for the firm's UK property trust clients – According to NIBC the labour market report for September is one indicator that US economy is losing momentum. It is a view reflected by the weakening of business confidence surveys and a more moderate pace of job growth over the last few months. Although not related to the problems that have engulfed emerging markets over the last summer,, it appears that US businesses have on average accumulated too much in inventories. The number of non-farm payrolls increased by only 142k, whereas 200k was expected and the August reading was revised downwards from 173k to 136k. Additionally, underlying figures indicate that a relatively strong boost in the number of jobs in the public sector camouflaged the weakness in private sector job gains. Market participants were probably also intrigued by the slow rate of hourly wage (earnings) growth. These stayed flat in September compared to August, while the annual rate of wage growth stayed at 2.2%, in line with the annual rate in between 2.0 and 2.5% range this year - Global Jet Capital, a provider of financing solutions for large-cabin, long-range private jets, has agreed to purchase the aircraft lease and loan portfolio of GE Capital Corporate Aircraft in the Americas representing approximately $2.5bn of net assets. Shawn Vick, executive director of Global Jet Capital says, “We are investing heavily in growing the business both organically and through strategic acquisitions such as this one with GE. This is a prime example of our industry expertise and investment capital coming together to evaluate and identify an opportunity to expand the business in a disciplined, carefully measured way.” The price point of the aircraft range between $25m and $75m on average, and corporate users and high net worth individuals will seek competitive financing solutions rather than allocate their own cash resources which are better invested in their own businesses - Gresham Computing plc, a provider of real-time financial transaction control and enterprise data integrity solutions, today announced the appointment of Damian Canning as Sales Director for North America. Based in Gresham’s New York City office, Canning will be responsible for continuing the strong growth of Gresham’s Clareti Transaction Control (CTC) platform in North America - Spending on food, entry fees, insurance and entertainment over the three day Eid al-Adha festival, some 300,000 Saudis spent SAR400m ($107m), according to local press reports. Bahraini officials report higher than usual tourist inflows and spending. Roughly 50% of those who checked in the kingdom’s hotels were nationals of member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, enjoying Bahrain’s more relaxed ambience - The Philippine unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc said on Monday it was looking to launch a long-delayed initial public offering (IPO) sometime next year, and may sell even more than the minimum requirement of 10 percent of common stock. "We're getting ready for it," Shell Philippines Country Chairman Edgar Chua told reporters on the sidelines of a Shell event. "We've discussed it with the (Philippines Department of Energy), it's just a question of timing." Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp, which operates one of the country's two refineries, is required under a nearly two-decade local law to conduct an IPO. The company had previously cited unfavourable market conditions and the need to upgrade its local refinery in deferring a share sale. Shell's refinery upgrade is underway and could be completed hopefully by the middle of November says a Shell spokesman - European regulators have approved the London Stock Exchange's plan to link the operations of LCH.Clearnet and EuroCCP to offer investors more choice for clearing their trades on the UK bourse. The link is set to begin October 26th - The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 58.1 points or 2.08% higher to 2851.25, taking the year-to-date performance to -15.27%. The top active stocks today were SingTel, which gained 2.81%, DBS, which gained 2.36%, UOB, which gained1.64%, OCBC Bank, which gained2.05% and CapitaLand, with a 2.49%advance. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained 1.45%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index rose 1.04%. - Morningstar has downgraded the Aberforth UK Small Companies fund to a Morningstar Analyst Rating™ of Silver. The fund previously held a Gold Rating. Samuel Meakin, manager research analyst at Morningstar, said: “Following a recent Morningstar Analyst Ratings meeting, we have moved the Aberforth UK Small Companies fund to a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Silver. The fund was previously rated Gold. Whilst we still hold the fund in high regard, the recent and upcoming changes to the management team have slightly reduced our level of conviction. Andy Bamford, one of the fund’s six managers, is set to retire at the end of this year; he follows David Ross, who retired in 2014.” - Rubicon Minerals Corporation (TSX: RMX)(NYSE MKT: RBY) was asked by Canada’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) on September 30th to temporarily suspend mill operations at the Phoenix Gold Project) to treat elevated ammonia levels, discharge sufficient water from the tailings management facility (TMF), and to upgrade the TMF, under specific timelines. It also ordered Rubicon to undertake other operational and reporting obligations, including construction upgrades to the TMF. The company has been utilizing alternative technologies to address the ammonia levels in the TMF - LIFE, the global diaspora organisation of Lebanese finance executives says it has signed an academic partnership with Cambridge Judge Business School, the business school of the University of Cambridge – Figures shows that the United Kingdom’s HMRC collected a record £7.5bn in stamp duty from residential property transactions in 2014/2015, up from £6.45bn the previous year and from £4.9bn in 2012/2013 and the total tax collected from home buyers in the UK has grown by 165% over the last six years alone. Transactions in London contributed the most residential stamp duty revenue at just over £3bn, followed by the South East at £1.6bn and between 2008/2009 and 2014/2015, stamp duty revenues in London have grown by 248%, compared to around 158% in the East of England and 140% in the South East. The latest analysis reports from both Knight Frank and Savills look into the effect of this on the prime market in London and both conclude that the stamp duty changes introduced last December are still having an effect on sales 10 months on.

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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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