Thursday 29th January 2015
NEWS TICKER: THURSDAY, JANUARY 29TH 2015: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) issued a Financial Institution Letter yesterday encouraging supervised institutions to take a risk-based approach in assessing individual customer relationships, rather than declining to provide banking services to entire categories of customers without regard to the risks presented by an individual customer or the financial institution's ability to manage the risk. The FDIC also reinforced the agency's policies on managing customer relationships to examiners and other supervisory staff. Financial institutions that properly manage customer relationships and effectively mitigate risks are neither prohibited nor discouraged from providing services to any category of customer accounts or individual customers operating in compliance with applicable laws. FDIC examiners must provide notice in writing for any case in which an institution is directed to exit a customer relationship - US mid-market investment bank BR & Co says it will release results for the fourth quarter and full year of 2014 before the market opens on Wednesday, February 11th -.Chile’s Minister of Economy, Development and Tourism, Luis Felipe Céspedes, along with General Manager Sercotec Bernardo Troncoso, made ​​a visit to the antique del Barrio Italy yesterday to introduce new programs for productive development that will display Sercotec for entrepreneurs , micro and small businesses during 2015 - Moody's de Mexico has upgraded debt ratings to Baa1 (Global Scale, local currency) from Baa2 and to Aaa.mx (Mexico National Scale) from Aa2.mx of the following five enhanced loans to the state of Chihuahua: MXN4.5bn from Banco Interacciones (original face value) with a maturity of 20 years; MXN1.38bn from BBVA-Bancomer (original face value) with a maturity of 20 years; MXN 2.03bn from BBVA-Bancomer (original face value) with a maturity of 20 years; MXN1.72bn from BBVA-Bancomer (original face value) with a maturity of 20 years; MXN3bn from Multiva (original face value) with a maturity of 17 years (MXN1.4bn disposed of). The ratings agency also assigned debt ratings of Baa1 (Global Scale, local currency) and Aaa.mx (Mexico National Scale) to the following enhanced loans: MXN1.995bn from Banorte (original face value) with a maturity of 20 years; MXN1bn from Santander (original face value) with a maturity of 20 years. All the enhanced loans are payable through a master trust (Evercore as trustee F/0152), to which the state has pledged the flows and rights to 56.98% of its federal participation revenues. All the loans under this master trust share the cash flow and are paid on a pari passu basis. - The January monthly energy review by the EIA was released yesterday evening. Preliminary estimates of US residential energy consumption suggest that for October 2014 total energy consumption equaled 1.3 quadrillion Btu, a 2% decrease from October 2013. Electricity retail sales and electrical system energy losses accounted for 73% of residential sector total energy consumption, while natural gas accounted for 16% of residential sector total energy consumption, renewable energy accounted for 6%, and petroleum accounted for 5% - Celent has released a new report, titled, IT Spending in Banking: A North American Perspective. The report is authored by Jacob Jegher, a research director with Celent's Banking practice. North American IT spending growth is rising steadily, he says, and is expected to be 4.5% higher in 2015. Growth will drop slightly in 2016 as IT spending by North American banks reaches US$64.8 billion, an increase of 4.2%. In the report, Celent examines, analyses, and contrasts the IT spending patterns of US and Canadian banks. The firm says North American bank IT spending will grow from $59.5bn in 2014 to $62.2bn in 2015. This year, the firm adds, is shaping up to be another promising one for retail banking; significant funds are still required to move forward and maintain self-service initiatives, digital banking projects/overhauls, branch transformation initiatives, and omni-channel endeavours. Additionally, mobile banking will continue to receive significant attention as banks aim to build on existing smartphone and tablet apps. Analytics, omni-channel banking, compliance/regulatory, and IT security investments will also be priorities. Spending on corporate banking will continue to climb through new component or module-based initiatives. Midsize banks are still very much looking to compete with larger banks that have invested significant amounts over the last several years. Small business is also a growing area of interest because banks still haven't figured out how to attack this distinct and attractive market segment. "The figures point to another strong year; 2015 is poised to build on the growth experienced last year," says Jegher. – The CME Group advises that the deadline to claim a SMART Click ID for GPS and BPS will be February 6th, 2015. After this date, there will no longer be an option to login with a Legacy ID and both applications will only be accessible with a SMART Click ID. Applicants can create a SMART Click ID (if you do not have one already) or claim your Legacy ID via the GPS and BPS portals and both applications must be claimed independently prior to the deadline. The CME says that after February 6th, the GPS and BPS applications will no longer be available via the CME Portal. These applications will only be available via ‘direct’ links following direct links: https://gps.cmegroup.com; https://bps.cmegroup.com; and https://login.cmegroup.com - China’s debt build up since the global financial crisis ranks as one of the largest in recent history (in the 97th percentile of debt-to-GDP changes in a sample of 55 countries over the past 50 years) according to Goldman Sachs’ latest Global Economics Weekly research report. The bank says the development is new and is a major global macro concern for investors. Deteriorating external conditions and declining investment efficiency have contributed to the debt build-up. The research team says that while the risk is significant, its analysis exploring the aftermath of large debt build-ups over the past half-century suggests that credit booms do not always end in deep recessions or banking crises. “GDP growth typically decelerates by at least 3-4pp after credit booms, although in China’s case some slowing has already occurred. Smoothing the adjustment process is likely to require increased central government fiscal outlays and policy interest rates should remain fairly low,” says the team. They add that while Chinese policy-makers have begun to address credit issues, significant imbalances still need to be worked off and capital market system development and reforms still need to be implemented more fully -

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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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