Monday 8th February 2016
NEWS TICKER: February 8th 2016: SimCorp, a provider of investment management solutions says Vescore AG, a Swiss asset manager with $14bn in assets under management, has completed the implementation of SimCorp Dimension. Other divisions of the Vescore group will migrate to SimCorp Dimension in phase 2 of the implementation project, so the whole business will then operate on an integrated platform, designed to support modern, internationally active asset managers as they realize their growth potential. Frank Häusgen, senior sales & account manager at SimCorp says: “Vescore is another example that the ‘Investment Book of Record’ (IBOR) is so much more than a buzzword.” - S&P Capital IQ and SNL has rebranded as S&P Global Market Intelligence. The division’s new name is a strategic move forward as part of the integration of the two previously separate businesses, S&P Capital IQ and SNL Financial, under parent company McGraw Hill Financial (NYSE: MHFI). The businesses originally combined following the successful completion of the SNL Financial acquisition by MHFI on September 1, 2015. MHFI also recently announced its intention to rebrand at the corporate level as S&P Global, subject to shareholder vote in April of this year - RPMI Railpen has announced three new appointments to the in-house investment team for the Railways Pension Scheme. Sweta Chattopadhyay has joined as senior investment manager of the Private Markets team, joining from Adveq, a global alternative investment firm. Matthias Eifert has also joined the £22bn pension scheme from Macquarie Securities, and will take up the role of investment manager focusing on fundamental equity analysis and managing concentrated equity portfolios. Meanwhile, Tony Guida has joined the Alternative Risk Premia team at Railpen as an investment manager, from EDHEC Risk Institute - BCA Research, a provider of investment research, says has partnered with FiscalNote, a technology startup building a platform for analysing government risk, to integrate US policy data and analysis onto BCA’s digital platform BCA Edge. The collaboration will enable investors to factor in today’s complex regulatory landscape into their investment strategies and better understand how individual companies and industries are impacted by legislative actions, to identify alpha generating investment opportunities. The agreement with FiscalNote follows BCA’s collaboration with crowdsourced financial estimates platform Estimize to incorporate earnings and revenue estimates data on the BCA Edge platform - BroadSoft, Inc. (NASDAQ: BSFT), a global unified communication software as a service (UCaaS) provider, has acquired Transera, a provider of cloud-based contact center software for small-medium business (SMB) and large enterprises. The acquisition positions BroadSoft to lead the fast-growing Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) market, while enabling service providers to offer a comprehensive cloud contact center portfolio with minimal new investments, rapid time-to-market, and seamless integration with BroadSoft's BroadWorks and BroadCloud solutions. BroadSoft believes that Transera's omni-channel (voice, email, chat and social) and analytics-driven cloud contact center software will enable businesses to optimise operational efficiency, strengthen financial performance and improve the business outcomes of customer interactions. "Today's acquisition brings together the leading cloud unified communications provider with a pioneer redefining contact center performance through omni-channel and big data analytics," says Michael Tessler, chief executive officer, BroadSoft. "The multi-billion-dollar contact center market is ripe for cloud disruption, and we now offer service providers a single stack solution with the flexibility to scale from SMB to large enterprise." "Cloud is rewriting the rules when it comes to how businesses can deliver a superior customer-engagement experience through simplicity, on-demand scalability, and advanced analytics," adds Prem Uppaluru, chairman and chief executive officer, Transera, who will assume the role of General Manager and Vice President of BroadSoft Cloud Contact Center - Singapore state-fund Temasek Holdings’ wholly owned investment arm Vertex Venture Holdings’ fourth Israel fund has been oversubscribed by as much as 50%, and is set to see its final close at $150m, according to Singaporean press reports. In the meantime, Temasek says it is set to close a new fund, Red Dot, also worth up to $150m to invest in mature Israeli high tech firms - Wealth manager Charles Stanley says it has appointed Vicky Casebourne and Elizabeth Feltwell as intermediary sales managers. Feltwell joins from The Ingenious Group and will work with financial advisers, solicitors and accountants across Scotland, Northern Ireland and London. Casebourne joined Charles Stanley in 2011 as a trainee investment manager from Brewin Dolphin. She worked as a central investment product specialist, assisting intermediaries with in-depth product analysis before moving to an intermediary sales manager role - Thin and thinner news from Asia today as Chinese New Year celebrations take over from worries about falling stock markets. The focus today is all on Japan: the Bank of Japan released the notes backing its decision to introduce negative interest rates (see news story below). Japan's Nikkei Stock Average rose 1.1%, but is still down 12% from the beginning of the year and is still at 12.8 times this year’s earnings according to S&P Capital IQ. Thailand's SET was up 0.4%. India's Sensex is up 0.1% (essentially flat), while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 ended down 0.01%. Other markets in Asia were closed for the Lunar New Year holiday. The pace of the US Federal Reserve’s tightening on monetary policy still hangs heavy on the market, as last Friday’s jobs figures showed a 151,000 increase in jobs while insurance claims for joblessness stayed flat overall on the previous month. Contrast that with slower and still slowing growth in China, a nervous monetary policy from the PBOC, which is being steered rather than steering markets, still volatile crude oil prices (which can only get worse not better as inventories continue to rise), a collapsing market in Brazil, concerns about NPLs at Indian banks, and the threat of ever looser monetary policy in Europe and you can see why investors are running on empty. Crude oil prices remain sharply lower compared with several months ago, but the pace of falls might be easing. New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in March traded at $30.86 a barrel, down three cents from the previous close. The words rock and hard place come to mind this week as the US Federal Reserve will have to steer a delicate monetary course. On the one hand an increase might help cool the economy (but that won’t help US stocks); but if it says that the reason it doesn’t raise rates is because of worries about the global outlook, it will shake investor confidence in the markets and trigger another round of sell offs. The other key trend has been the steadily appreciating US dollar. The US dollar has risen since Friday, factoring in perhaps the possibility of an additional rate rise. The dollar was at ¥ 117.28 in late Asia, up from ¥ 116.82 late Friday in New York. The euro was at $1.1139, down from $1.1160. We’ll find out midweek, as Federal Reserve chair Yellen will testify before Congress on the progress of monetary policy on Wednesday.

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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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