Wednesday 14th October 2015
NEWS TICKER, OCTOBER 13TH 2015: NEWS TICKER: The Lyxor Hedge Fund Index was down -1.4% in September. 3 out of 11 Lyxor Indices ended the month in positive territory. The Lyxor CTA Long Term Index (+4.0%), the Lyxor CTA Long Term Index (+2.3%), and the Lyxor L/S Equity Market Neutral Index (+0.4%) were the best performers. In contrast with the sell-off by last fall, the current recovery process is proving more laborious, says Lyxor. Continued soft macro releases, several micro turbulences (VW, GLEN, the US Healthcare) and signs that the Fed might be more concerned about global growth, drove markets to re-test the end-of-August lows. L/S Equity Long bias funds and Event Driven funds were yet again the main victims. Conversely, CTAs, Global Macro and L/S Equity funds with lower or variable bias, successfully navigated challenging times - British payments processor Worldpay Group Ltd priced its listing on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) today at 240 pence per share, valuing the business at £4.8bn in the largest IPO of this year on the LSE. Payments processing giant Worldpay (WPG) managed to list this morning at 240p, right in the sweet spot of an initial 225p-260p marketing rage which was subsequently narrowed to 235-250p. It currently trades +4% at 250p equating to a positive market debut in light of a slower pace of listings The UK company, which qualifies for FTSE 100 inclusion, processes £370bn in payments from 400,000 merchants every year and handles around 40pc of web-based transactions in Europe. Worldpay earlier this year rejected an offer of up to 6.6 billion pounds, including debt, from French rival Ingenico Group SA. Last year Worldpay made an underlying profit of £765m on revenues of £3.6bn. In the first six months of this year, sales rose 13pc to £465.7m, pushing profits up by the same amount to £182.6m. As of the end of September, the London stock market had welcomed 93 flotations raising £5.3bn this year, a significant drop from the £11bn generated from 136 listings in the same period last year - This week’s major London IPOs have had mixed fortunes. and a cooling in appetite for new paper over the last two years. However, motor insurer Hastings Direct (HSTG), which came to market yesterday, could only manage to get its IPO away at 170p which was well below its 180-185p indicated range. Worldpay’s IPO success most likely reflects the global preference for digital and consumer focused firms - The gross return of the SS&C GlobeOp Hedge Fund Performance Index for September 2015 measured -1.56%. Hedge fund flows as measured by the SS&C GlobeOp Capital Movement Index declined 1.13% in October. “SS&C GlobeOp's Capital Movement Index for October 2015 was -1.13%, down from the previous month's 0.62%, reflecting primarily seasonal factors,” said Bill Stone, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, SS&C Technologies. “Comparing year-over-year flows, the -1.13% for October 2015 was virtually identical to the October 2014 reading of -1.12%, with both inflows and outflows closely in line for the comparative periods. We have been analysing our Capital Movement Index and Forward Redemption Indicator carefully in the wake of recent market volatility. October's results are certainly indicative of overall stability in hedge fund allocations.” - Zurich UK is in talks with its staff over cutting 29 jobs across the administrative and support teams for retail sales as part of a restructuring process. Zurich UK has entered a period of consultation with its support and administrative staff and it is expected 29 jobs will be cut as a result. The decision has been made to realign all Zurich UK's resources to focus on key areas of protection and wealth, and is expected to help the company deliver increased efficiency and co-ordination of services to advisers and their clients. The company has also re-aligned its platform offices in Leeds and Bristol to become the North and South offices, focusing on the two regions instead of two cities – South Africa’s National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has signalled that there won’t be any agreement signed between the union and the Chamber of Mines (COM), at least until tomorrow morning. As the majority union, representing 72% of employees represented in the coal wage negotiations, the NUM must agree to the latest offer from the mining companies – Anglo American Coal, Delmas, Exxaro, Kangra, Koornfontein, Msobo and Glencore – represented by the COM, if the coal sector strike is to come to an end - APEC’s Energy Ministers from the 21 APEC member economies concluded their meeting on Tuesday in Cebu, the Philippines, by adopting the Cebu Declaration and Instructions, a joint statement on the the region’s energy priorities. Ministers instruct the region’s energy stakeholders to promote and collaborate on initiatives under the theme: “Towards an Energy Resilient APEC Community,” as well as create a task force on energy resilience to implement disaster-proofing of energy infrastructure, introducing energy efficiency technologies, promoting the use of clean energy and improving energy trade and investment in APEC. - Singapore property firm Perennial Real Estate Holdings (PREH) is launching a maiden issue of three-year bonds to the retail market with an annual payout of 4.65 %. Up to SGD150m of the bonds will be offered to the public although some may be re-allocated to institutional and other investors if applicable, PREH said in a statement. DBS is the sole manager and book-runner. The total issue size can be raised to SGD300m if the public offer is oversubscribed. The maiden bond offering further diversifies the firm’s sources of funding, though they have one of the shortest tenures among retail bonds issued by Singaporean companies in recent years. PREH's offer comes after jewellery firm Aspial Corporation's issuance in August, which offered a coupon rate of 5.25% over a five-year tenure - Major Asian bourses edged lower in trading today and major European equity indices fell in early trading, with energy-related shares leading the losses on profit-taking after a fall in crude oil prices yesterday. Continued concerns over China’s economic outlook and the prolonged rout in the commodities markets is beginning to take on more characteristics of a crisis, than simply market corrections. Most Asian markets fell after Chinese trade data signalled weakening global and domestic demand. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 1.1%, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.6% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was down 0.5%. Indonesia's JSX fell 2.6% and South Korea's Kospi shed 0.1%. In brighter mode, the Shanghai Composite Index finished up 0.2%, while the Straits Times Index (STI) ended 33.61 points or 1.12% higher to 3032.11, taking the year-to-date performance to -9.90%. The top active stocks today were SingTel, which gained 1.56%, DBS, which gained 0.45, UOB, which gained0.91%, Noble, which gained 9.57%and Keppel Corp, with a 0.13%advance. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained 1.18%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index rose 0.90 - The US Federal Reserve staving off a rate rise last month has given the markets breathing space and market focus will hone in on Federal Reserve Bank’s James Bullard, who will give a speech at the annual meeting of the National Association for Business Economics in Washington - According to Eurobank, the Greek government submitted to Parliament yesterday a bill containing the first set of fiscal and structural measures that will permit the disbursement of ca €2bn from the first instalment of €26bn of the €86bn loan agreed in August under the Third Economic Adjustment Programme for Greece. The bill is expected to be voted on late on Friday this week - InvestCloud, Inc, a provider of cloud-based front and middle-office solutions focused on digitizing customer experiences and internal operations for global investment advisors, today announced it has raised $45 million in growth equity funding. The round was led by FTV Capital and will be used to further invest in the company’s state-of-the-art platform and functionality, enhance customer service, and expand the company’s global footprint. Richard Garman, FTV Capital managing partner, has joined InvestCloud’s board of directors -

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The European Review

By Patrick Artus, chief economist at Natixis

The Calculation for Spain

Tuesday, 31 July 2012 Written by 
The Calculation for Spain To alleviate its debt and escape its state of crisis, we think Spain has two strategies to choose from. The first one, already in place since 2009, involves a reduction in the fiscal and external deficits while accepting aid from other eurozone countries. If Spain were to continue with this strategy, it would need to incorporate regular debt purchases by the ECB and possibly the ESM, and provide assistance to recapitalise its banks. The second strategy would be to leave the euro, which would mean a default on its gross external debt and a sharp devaluation of its currency. Both of these strategies contain negatives that need to be considered: the question is, which one would be the least detrimental to the country’s economic future?

To alleviate its debt and escape its state of crisis, we think Spain has two strategies to choose from. The first one, already in place since 2009, involves a reduction in the fiscal and external deficits while accepting aid from other eurozone countries. If Spain were to continue with this strategy, it would need to incorporate regular debt purchases by the ECB and possibly the ESM, and provide assistance to recapitalise its banks.

The second strategy would be to leave the euro, which would mean a default on its gross external debt and a sharp devaluation of its currency.

Both of these strategies contain negatives that need to be considered: the question is, which one would be the least detrimental to the country’s economic future?

Strategy One: Spain's present strategy of adjustment...A Catch-22 situation?

Spain’s high levels of external debt mean it cannot increase its external borrowing (except for emergency borrowing from the EU or the ECB). Therefore, it must balance its current account.

Its present strategy of adjustment is clear: a restrictive fiscal policy; an improvement in cost-competitiveness to rebalance foreign trade; and the acceptance of European aid to recapitalise banks in distress. The last action hinges on purchases of government bonds to push down long-term interest rates. However, this strategy is risky.

A scenario may help us better understand this strategy: a fall in real wages due to price-stickiness discourages household demand, which has a knock-on effect to make business investment decline. Hence, there is a major decline in domestic demand and activity, making it very difficult to reduce fiscal deficit. In early 2012 we saw this in action when Spain’s fiscal deficit widened considerably, due both to tax revenue short-falls and higher-than-expected government spending. A continuation of this strategy therefore may lead to a further increase in unemployment and a decline in activity.

There could also be a reduction in the external deficit due to the decline in purchasing power. That said, imports would have to be reduced by a further 20% for Spain's current account deficit to disappear, which would mean a decline of at least 12% in domestic demand and real income.

The only hope for this strategy is that improvements in cost-competitiveness could increase Spain's exports and market share, and improved profits could eventually increase business investment.

Strategy Two: Exit from the euro, default and devaluation...A possible solution or suicide?

The other strategy would be for Spain to leave the euro, sharply devalue its currency, and inevitably default on its gross external public and private debt. This would obviously be a big problem for Spanish multinational companies, given the size of debt and the impossibility of servicing it following devaluation.

But what would the likely consequences of this strategy be?

For a start, it requires an immediate rebalancing of foreign trade. The country could no longer borrow, which would result in a much weaker economic situation in the short term.

Our econometric estimate shows elasticity to the real exchange rate of 0.73 for Spain's exports and 0 for imports, in volume terms. If we assume 30% devaluation, the foreign trade gain in volume terms would be 7.7 percentage points of GDP, which is very substantial.

Devaluation would increase the price of imports and therefore reduce real income by about 5.9 percentage points, which would leave a net gain of approximately 2 percentage points of GDP.

When the Spanish peseta was devalued in the early 1990s (twice in 1992, once in 1993), the current account deficit disappeared in 18 months, exports accelerated strongly, while domestic inflation reacted only slightly to the rise in import prices. The decline in GDP only lasted one year, and from that point growth was strong because of falling interest rates.

In today’s instance, devaluation would also increase the competitiveness of tourism and increase the surplus for these services in local currency, though perhaps not in foreign currencies such as the euro.

As financing becomes completely domestic, it is not impossible that there could be a reduction in the sovereign risk premium.

Devaluation could subsequently attract direct investment by businesses. With 30% devaluation, for example, labour costs in Spain would fall to EUR 14 per hour, 60% less than in Germany. However, since the size of Spanish industry is relatively small, new activities need to be considered for it to generate a large surplus.

Conclusion: What strategy to choose for Spain?

If the improvement in Spain's cost-competitiveness and profitability does not produce quick results, the present strategy will fail: wages would have to be reduced on a greater scale to eliminate the external deficit, and the fiscal deficit would remain very high.

The other strategy (leaving the euro, devaluation and default) could be successful if the devaluation attracted new activities, but it involves a lot of uncertainties – such as the impacts on Spanish multinationals, interest rates and foreign trade.

As stated earlier, both strategies are rather bleak, but positive aspects are still evident. Considering all of the factors, we believe that the strategy of devaluation and default could be the most efficient, particularly due to the high price elasticity of exports and the fact that Spain's entire current account deficit is accounted for by the interest on its external debt. As in 1992, it could also be effective due to the domestic financing of fiscal deficits, which will prevent a rise in interest rates.

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.


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