Thursday 5th March 2015
NEWS TICKER, WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4TH 2015: The number of Spaniards registered as unemployed fell by 13,538 people in February, a fall of 0.3%. Even so, the government acknowledges that a massive 4,512,153 people remain without work. In a press release, the Ministry for Employment says said reduction in jobless was best monthly improvement in February since 2001. Seasonally-adjusted unemployment fell by 49,653 people. The government also says 300,333 fewer unemployed people since February 2014 was: "the largest year-on-year reduction in unemployment since 1999". The total number of unemployed Spaniards this month—the fourth February with Mariano Rajoy as Prime Minister—was still higher than all of the February data points for the last four years of the Zapatero government. The number of people registered with Spain's social security system rose by 96,909 in February - Record high inflows send Japanese ETFs’ AUM higher, surpassing $160bn. The Apac region excluding Japan has also seen strong inflows, pushing the AUM mark past $78bn. Investors are still avoiding the riskiest names in the region; firms whose CDS spreads have widened the most have seen negative returns - CBOE Futures Exchange reports February average daily volume in VIX futures was 166,547 contracts, a decrease of 23% from February 2014 and a decrease of 27% from January 2015. Total volume in VIX futures for February was 3.2m contracts, down 23% from a year ago and down 31% from the previous month - The Straits Times Index (STI) ended +1.03 points higher or +0.03% to 3403.89, taking the year-to-date performance to +1.15%. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index declined -0.39% while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index declined -1.14%. The top active stocks were SingTel (+0.47%), DBS (-1.48%), OCBC Bank (-0.86%), Noble (-3.08%) and UOB (-0.04%). The outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Consumer Goods Index (+0.68%). The two biggest stocks of the FTSE ST Consumer Goods Index are Wilmar International (+0.31%) and Thai Beverage (+2.14%). The underperforming sector was the FTSE ST Basic Materials Index, which declined -3.44% with Midas Holdings’ share price gaining +1.61% and Geo Energy Resources’ share price declining -1.57%. The three most active Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) by value today were the STI ETF (-0.29%), IS MSCI India (+0.37%), SPDR Gold Shares (+1.10%). The three most active Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) by value were Ascendas REIT (+1.62%), CapitaCom Trust (-0.57%), CapitaMall Trust (+1.90%). The most active index warrants by value today were HSI25000MBeCW150330 (-7.69%), HSI24200MBePW150429 (-3.94%), HSI24400MBePW150330 (-7.32%). The most active stock warrants by value today were OCBC Bk MBeCW150803 (-13.56%), UOB MB eCW150701 (-1.97%), DBS MB eCW150420 (-22.61%).

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The European Review

By Patrick Artus, chief economist at Natixis

The adjustment in France has not even begun

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 Written by 
The adjustment in France has not even begun The French have the impression that their economy has worsened significantly and that austerity policies are weakening employment and living standards yet this inevitable adjustment is still to come Indeed, when examining the situation of public finances, competitiveness, foreign trade, the sophistication of products and businesses, it is clear that the process of adjustment and improvement has hardly begun in France, whereas it has progressed a lot on some criteria in Spain, Italy and Portugal, and of course long ago in Germany. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

The French have the impression that their economy has worsened significantly and that austerity policies are weakening employment and living standards yet this inevitable adjustment is still to come Indeed, when examining the situation of public finances, competitiveness, foreign trade, the sophistication of products and businesses, it is clear that the process of adjustment and improvement has hardly begun in France, whereas it has progressed a lot on some criteria in Spain, Italy and Portugal, and of course long ago in Germany.

The impression in France of a significant deterioration of the economy and living standards

The French are extremely pessimistic about the economy and living standards, as showed by a recent international optimism poll conducted by BVA – Gallup international. Yet, the French unemployment rate is lower than Spain and Portugal, and households' real income and spending are still increasing while they are falling in Spain, Italy and Portugal. The French fear a reduction in of social welfare, even though the welfare system has actually become more generous at a time when it has declined in Germany.



State of progress in France’s adjustment

In terms of the adjustment process, let us look at French public finances, competitiveness and foreign trade, and the financial position of French businesses and their product sophistication.

1. Public finances

In 2012, only Spain will still have a fiscal deficit higher than that of France. Meanwhile, the debt ratio will continue to increase in France at a time when it is falling in Germany and has stabilised in Italy.

2. Competitiveness, foreign trade

France and Italy have a higher unit wage cost than Germany, which explains the continuing losses of export market shares for these two countries; whereas Spanish and Portuguese exports, where producer costs are low, are now growing rapidly.

Indeed, France has a large trade balance deficit in manufactured goods yet Spain and Portugal now have an even trade balance. Meanwhile, Italy and Germany have trade balance surpluses. As long as international capital mobility remains low in the euro zone, due to the “renationalisation” of investors' portfolios caused by the crisis; countries will be subject to an external balance constraint. Indeed, France is the only country that has not yet reduced its current-account deficit.

An improvement in foreign trade can be achieved either through an improvement in cost-competitiveness, hence a fall in wage costs, or through a contraction of domestic demand, which reduces imports. At present, the unit wage cost is increasing faster in France than in Germany and all the other struggling euro-zone countries causing domestic demand to continue to increase instead of fall as in Spain, Italy and Portugal.

3. Financial position of businesses and product sophistication

In contrast to other euro-zone countries, the financial position of French businesses continues to deteriorate. It is clear that the deterioration of corporate profitability is due to the low level of product sophistication in French industrial output, which means that French businesses find it harder to pass on rises in production costs to consumers, contrary to what can be seen in Germany, Spain and even Portugal. This is extended by France’s slow productivity gains (efficiency in producing products), which are recovering in Spain and Portugal.

All in all, practically everything remains to be done in France:

France still needs to reduce its fiscal deficit, improve competitiveness/ foreign trade, and restore profitability (productivity) and product sophistication.

Meanwhile, these adjustments have been completed in Germany and are progressing well in the other euro-zone countries. Italy and Portugal now have small fiscal deficits; Spain and Portugal have seen improvement in cost-competitiveness; external deficits have been reduced in Italy, Spain and Portugal while both corporate profitability and productivity have also improved; and Spanish and Portuguese products have become more sophisticated as shown from their ability to pass on higher production costs to consumers.

This all points to a risk of more restrictive fiscal policies in France, a fall in wages, and efforts to restore productivity by businesses (as in Spain and Portugal), which will inevitably be costly in terms of employment.

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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