Thursday 7th May 2015
NEWS TICKER: WEDNESDAY, MAY 6TH 2015: According to Mineweb, silver prices on average will decline 14% this year as speculation over US interest rates spurs a shift to alternative assets. Silver will drop to $16.50 an ounce from the average fixing price of $19.08 in 2014, Andrew Leyland, manager of precious- metal demand at Thomson Reuters GFMS, told Mineweb in advance of Thomson Reuters'World Silver Survey 2015 on behalf of the Washington-based Silver Institute. Silver futures fell 2.7% last month - The Federal Reserve Bank of New York will release its Q1 2015 Household Debt and Credit Report Tuesday, May 12 at 11:00 am. The Household Debt and Credit Report offers an updated snapshot of household trends in borrowing and indebtedness, including data about mortgages, student loans, credit cards, auto loans and delinquencies. In conjunction with the report, the New York Fed will also release a blog post that details the change in debt by credit score and age group - Moody's has assigned a limited default (/LD) designation to DTEK ENERGY BV's (DTEK) Ca-PD probability of default rating (PDR). At the same time, Moody's has affirmed DTEK's Ca corporate family rating (CFR), as well as the Ca rating of DTEK Finance Plc's $750m 7.875% notes due April 4th 2018. The change of the PDR to Ca-PD/LD follows the completion of the exchange of DTEK Finance BV's $200m 9.5% notes on the notes' maturity date April 28th. The transaction was effected pursuant to a UK Scheme of Arrangement. The notes were exchanged into new $160m 10.375% notes due 28 March 2018, issued by DTEK Finance Plc for this purpose, and $44.9m of cash, including an early exchange offer acceptance fee, which was paid to note holders on April 28th. The Ca rating of DTEK Finance B.V.'s exchanged notes was withdrawn. Moody's expects to remove the "/LD" suffix after approximately three business days. The outlook on all ratings remains negative - A major new campaign ‘World of Talent in Ireland’ was today launched by the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland and IDA Ireland. The campaign will initially target Ireland’s global graduate community, highlighting abroad the career opportunities that now exist in Ireland, with a view to attracting talent here. Speaking on the launch of the campaign Mark Redmond, Chief Executive of the American Chamber said “For Ireland to continue to grow its economy it will be essential that we attract the best and the brightest talent from across the world. This campaign is about reaching out to anyone who attended college here and therefore has an affinity with Ireland but is currently living and working elsewhere. We want to ensure that they know the great career opportunities that now exist here and how they can avail of them” - Idinvest Partners, the European private equity firm specialising in SMEs, has announced the final closing of its Idinvest Digital Fund II at €140m. The fund is entirely dedicated to financing the growth of developing businesses in the digital and new technology segments (web-based, media, mobile, e-commerce services and software) in France and across Europe. The fund has invested in ten companies so far, including Sigfox, Synthesio and Twenga; 30% of the capital has been called in and the fund is already delivering positive returns. The fund has also gathered prominent investors, such as Bpifrance and Idinvest’s historical partner, Allianz France, who are topping the list. Besides these, there is also a large number of insurance companies, banks, family offices and leading industry players and corporates, such as Lagardère and Up groups - According to local press reports, Botswana’s largest retailer Choppies plans to cross-list its shares at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange by the end of May, as it expand its business in sub-Saharan Africa. The multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer has stores in three Southern Africa countries and is reportedly looking to expand into Zambia and Tanzania this year. The firm will list 10% of its shares and plans to raise about $50m. Choppies commands a market capitalization of about $535mon the Botswana Stock Exchange and has a 32% share of Botswana’s retail market and plans to add five more stores, taking the total to 77 retail outlets, by December, followed by another 20 in the medium term - Credit Agricole Egypt (CAE) reports net profit of EGP236m (+60% YoY and +8% QoQ) in 1Q2015 and net interest income of EGP371m in (+30% YoY and +7% QoQ)over the period, higher than analyst forecasts. No other income statement component was disclosed, with the exception of taxes (around EGP104m for the period, signifying an effective tax rate of around 31%). Full financial statements are not available yet - The European Union is reported to be investigating McDonald's over claims its structure allowed it to avoid more than €1bn (£730m) in tax. It is alleged that the fast food purveyor exploited loophole concerning royalties through Luxembourg, allowing it to pay just €16m of tax on royalties worth €3.7bn between 2009 and 2013. Unions claim McDonald's Luxembourg subsidiary employs just 13 people, yet booked €834m of revenue in 2013 - roughly around €64m per worker - Smith Cooper accountancy and business advisory firm today announced the appointment of Catherine Desmond as partner to enhance the firm's private client services across the Midlands. Desmond joins the firm from the Private Client department of Saffery Champness where she specialised in advising clients across a range of sectors, including predominantly family businesses and landed estates. In her new role at Smith Cooper, Catherine will be concentrating on further developing the range of tax planning services the firm offer their private clients. Her work will focus particularly on the agricultural sector and landed estates, an area Desmond has extensive experience in - Nomis Solutions has appointed Michael DeGusta to lead the architecture and development of the company’s next-generation pricing platform. Working with progressive technology companies such as Apple, eCoverage, and ChoicePoint, DeGusta brings 20 years of experience to Nomis. “Retail banks face unprecedented challenges, and Michael is the ideal leader to architect our future and to bring Nomis and our client banks to the next level of price optimization and profitability management,” says Frank Rohde, Nomis CEO. “The bankers we meet with relate a growing awakening to the opportunities provided by innovative technology and how it can help them thrive in the face of mediocre economies, changing customers, disruptive competitors, and challenging regulators.” -

Blog

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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