Friday 6th March 2015
NEWS TICKER – FRIDAY, MARCH 6TH 2015: Following a recent Morningstar Analyst Ratings meeting, Morningstar has moved the Henderson Horizon Japanese Equity fund and the Henderson Japan Capital Growth fund to a Morningstar Analyst Rating™ of Neutral. Both funds were previously Under Review due to a change in the lead portfolio manager. Prior to being placed Under Review, both funds were rated Bronze. The funds were solely managed by Michael Wood-Martin, who took over in 2005. However, in October 2014 Henderson decided to adopt a team-based approach. They are now run by the Japanese Equities team consisting of four investment professionals, including William Garnett, Michael Wood-Martin, Jeremy Hall, and Yun-Young Lee. Given this change to the investment process, Morningstar says it has less clarity around the likely shape of the portfolios and little evidence that the strategy can be implemented effectively. Morningstar believes a Neutral rating is appropriate at the current time —Moody's Investors Service has today republished a number of asset-backed securities (ABS) and residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) rating methodology reports. The updated ABS and RMBS methodology reports consolidate the secondary rating methodology "Revising default/loss assumptions over the life of an EMEA ABS/RMBS transaction" and which the agency will now retire; for RMBS specifically sees updates to the surveillance section; and for Consumer Loan-Backed ABS specifically a new appendix describing how Moody's will tailor its approach to rating consumer loans for marketplace lending loans. The republications do not represent a change in methodology and will not result in any rating changes —BATS Chi-X Europe reports a 23.7% market share, with average notional value traded at €12.3bn up substantially from €8.9bn in February 2014. Market share rose in 14 of the 15 markets the firm covers. Its trade reporting facility, BXTR, had its second-most successful month ever with more than €369.3bn reported in total during the month; an average of €18.5bn each trading day. In total, BATS Chi-X systems touched €616.1bn of trades in February—The Straits Times Index (STI) ended -20.26 points lower or -0.59% to 3395.27, taking the year-to-date performance to +0.90%. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index declined -0.18% while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index declined -0.17%. The top active stocks were SingTel (-1.20%), DBS (+0.05%), Keppel Land (-0.44%), OCBC Bank (-0.48%) and Global Logistic (unchanged). The outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Utilities Index (+1.66%). The two biggest stocks of the FTSE ST Utilities Index are United Envirotech (unchanged) and Hyflux (+0.58%). The underperforming sector was the FTSE ST Consumer Goods Index, which declined -1.31% with Wilmar International’s share price declining -0.61% and Thai Beverage’s share price declining -2.06%.The three most active Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) by value today were the IS MSCI India (-1.22%), SPDR Gold Shares (-0.31%), DBXT MSCI Thailand TRN ETF (-0.38%). The three most active Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) by value were CapitaMall Trust (+0.94%), Ascendas REIT (+2.02%), CapitaCom Trust (+0.28%).The most active index warrants by value today were HSI25000MBeCW150429 (-14.16%), HSI24200MBePW150429 (+10.53%), HSI23800MBePW150330 (+16.92%)—Commerz Real and RFR Holding have signed an agreement to purchase the real estate Atlas Plaza in Miami/Florida for its open-ended real estate fund hausInvest. The retail trade complex, located in the burgeoning Design District and in part on two storeys, comprises two existing buildings and a new construction, scheduled to be completed by May 2015. Upon the completion of the building work the leasable area will total approximately 1,600 square metres. The total investment volume for the acquisition and extension of “Atlas Plaza” amounts to around 68 million US dollars (approximately €60m)—Malaysia’s corporate sukuk sales will rebound from the worst start to a year since 2010 as a recovery in oil prices spurs issuance before the US raises interest rates, according to investment bank CIMB. Islamic bond offerings to date are down MYR9.7bn on a year on year basis. Kuala Lumpur-based AmInvestment Bank Bhd predicts sales could surpass last year’s MYR62bn as more projects come on stream under the government’s 10-year development programme. A 34% rally in Brent crude from January’s six-year low will shore up the country’s finances after Fitch Ratings warned the loss of revenue for oil-exporting Malaysia puts its credit ranking at risk. The average yield on AAA rated Malaysian corporate securities has dropped to a three-month low, cutting costs for issuers involved in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s $444bn spending drive and those seeking to refinance debt—Bahrain’s BIBF has announced the launch of the region’s first Islamic Finance and Muslim Lifestyle Convergence Training programme, developed as part of the Waqf Fund’s initiatives to enhance Islamic Finance training in the region, in partnership with New York-based DinarStandard, at a press conference yesterday. The burgeoning Halal food and Muslim Lifestyle sectors is estimated to be worth $2trn in 2013, and is expected to reach $2.47trn by 2018, based on the State of the Global Islamic Economy 2014 report, produced by Thomson Reuters in collaboration with DinarStandard. This represents a huge opportunity for Islamic Finance, which has been for the most part, untapped—Kames Capital is to lower the annual management charge on the Kames Investment Grade Global Bond Fund following a review of the fund’s positioning in the European markets. The move will see the AMC on the Kames Investment Grade Global Bond Fund B share class fall to 0.65% from its current rate of 0.80%, while for the A share class the charge will drop to 1.15% from 1.30%. The changes will take effect from the 1st April 2015. As part of the review, Kames will also be changing the benchmark of the fund to the Barclays Global Aggregate Corporate Index from the Lipper Global Bond Global Corporate Median. The changes are intended to bring the fund into line with its peer group particularly in Continental Europe. Whilet there will be no change to the investment process of the fund, there will be a slight change to the fund’s duration. In order to maintain its index-neutral duration, the Fund will now be aligned to the Barclays Global Aggregate Corporate Index which has a duration of around 6.4 years. This compares to the existing Lipper peer group which has an estimated duration of 5 years.

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The European Review

By Patrick Artus, chief economist at Natixis

Is Greece offered any other choice to a slow death and a sudden death?

Friday, 06 July 2012 Written by 
Is Greece offered any other choice to a slow death and a sudden death? The adjustment programme that Greece is putting in place with the Troika, even if it is toned down and spread out over time, will eventually lead to a fall in Greeks' purchasing power until Greece's external deficit disappears. And in light of Greece's economic structure and the disproportion between its imports and exports, this will imply a collapse in living standards in Greece. The other possibility for Greece is to leave the euro and massively devalue its currency, but this would instantly mean a loss of purchasing power due to the deterioration of the terms of trade, and a massive decline in domestic demand, which would in any case be inevitable because there would then be no more lenders to finance Greece's external deficit. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

The adjustment programme that Greece is putting in place with the "Troika", even if it is toned down and spread out over time, will eventually lead to a fall in Greeks' purchasing power until Greece's external deficit disappears. And in light of Greece's economic structure and the disproportion between its imports and exports, this will imply a collapse in living standards in Greece. The other possibility for Greece is to leave the euro and massively devalue its currency, but this would instantly mean a loss of purchasing power due to the deterioration of the terms of trade, and a massive decline in domestic demand, which would in any case be inevitable because there would then be no more lenders to finance Greece's external deficit.

For Greece to escape a slow death (austerity programme) or a sudden death (exit from the euro), a massive European aid plan would be needed to rebuild the Greek economy and create jobs, a plan that is unlikely at present, and very different from the present bailout which merely finances debt servicing on Greek government bonds held by public investors.

The logic of the adjustment programme for Greece: Slow death



Even if Greece and the Troika renegotiate the adjustment programme, its fundamental characteristics will remain the same:

·                                  a restrictive fiscal policy to eliminate the fiscal deficit;

·                                  a fall in wages to improve competitiveness and reduce domestic demand, until Greece's external deficit disappears.

The main idea of the adjustment programme is that Greece's domestic demand exceeds its production capacity, thereby generating a structural external deficit. So Greeks "are living beyond their means", with a rise in living standards far exceeding growth in production capacity, and it is therefore legitimate to reduce domestic demand both through a restrictive fiscal policy and wage cuts.

The fall in wages could also bring about an improvement in competitiveness, hence an improvement in foreign trade, but its main objective is to reduce domestic demand and imports.

The problem with this approach is that:

·                                  it is showing its ineffectiveness: despite the decline in domestic demand, the current-account deficit has declined little; due to the shortfall in activity, public finances are no longer improving;

·                                  its cost in terms of jobs and purchasing power is gigantic. Greece is a country in which the weight of industry is very small and where, as a consequence, the disproportion between imports and exports is very great.

A substantial decline in purchasing power in Greece is therefore needed to eliminate the external deficit, with a further fall of about 30% in real wages. Purchasing power would have to be brought back to the level of the early 1990s to balance the current account, and this is of course rejected by the population. The fundamental problem is twofold:

·                                  even if there is a fall in wages, the improvement in price-competitiveness is limited by price stickiness;

·                                  since the size of industry is small, the adjustment must be achieved mainly through a fall in imports, hence a decline in income.

Exit from the euro and devaluation: Sudden death

Faced with this prospect of a "slow death" due to the austerity programme, Greeks could decide to leave the euro and devalue. But in that case the shock would be sudden and terrible, because there would be both:

·                                  a rise in import prices;

·                                  an obligation to eliminate the external deficit, because no one (neither the private sector nor the public sector) would any longer lend to Greece;

·                                  a weak positive impact of the gain in competitiveness, due to the small size of industry.

Greece would default on its gross external debt, and would therefore no longer have to service that debt, which is positive (it would gain six percentage points of GDP in interest payments on external debt). But the rise in import prices would even further exacerbate the foreign trade imbalance, while the potential for external borrowing would disappear. There would inevitably have to be a reduction in domestic demand to restore the foreign trade balance despite the rise in import prices, hence inevitably a collapse in imports in volume terms.

This is reminiscent of the process in Argentina, in similar circumstances, in the early 2000s: a collapse of activity following the huge devaluation, the need to switch to a current-account surplus which required dividing imports by three - hence a collapse in the real wage due to imported inflation, and in domestic demand and employment.

From 2003 onwards, there was  a sharp improvement in Argentina's situation, but it is important to remember that it had considerable structural advantages by comparison with Greece at present:

·                                  substantial weight of industry (22% of jobs);

·                                  before the crisis, exports and imports of the same size;

·                                  a smaller current-account deficit to reduce (five percentage points of GDP).

The shock would be far more violent and prolonged for Greece.

So what would be the solution for Greece?

We have seen that Greece is at present offered two solutions:

·                                  a "slow death", through a stifling of the economy via the austerity plan, even if it is softened down;

·                                  a "sudden death", if there is an exit from the euro and devaluation.

In either case, gradually or suddenly, there must be a substantial decline in purchasing power to eliminate the external deficit which is no longer financeable. For Greece to escape this dreadful choice, Europe's aid would have to be allocated not to debt servicing on Greece's government bonds held by public investors (EFSF, ECB) - which in and of itself is an incredible situation where Europe is borrowing in order to pay to itself the servicing of the Greek debt it holds - but to help rebuild the Greek economy and create jobs, which is definitely not being done at present.

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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