Wednesday 6th 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 The Ca rating of DTEK Finance B.V.'s exchanged notes was withdrawn.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

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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