Monday 4th May 2015
NEWS TICKER: FRIDAY, MAY IST: MYOB will return on Monday next to the ASX, selling 228.3mshares at $3.65 in the company’s IPO. The company raised AUD833.1m, giving it an implied market capitalisation of AUD2.13bn. Bain Capital will retain 58% of the firm’s stock. “We saw a significant level of participation from eligible retail noteholders in the offer, with approximately 57% of holders exchanging their notes into shares. We see this wide range of investor interest as a strong vote of confidence in MYOB.” MYOB chairman Justin Milne says. ASX trading in MYOB shares is set to begin on 4 May under the code MYO. MYOB was listed on exchange from 1999 to 2009 – The volume of US municipal bonds soared by 42.1% in April, according to Thomson Reuters’ data; the ninth straight monthly gain. Issuers brought $37.76bn to market in 1,210 issues, up from $26.58bn in 939 issues in April 2014. Low interest rates, and the reluctance of the US Federal Reserve to raise rates over the near term has resulted in a dash by municipal issuers anxious to secure low cost funding as many refinance their debts. Other than refinancing, new issuance per se looks to be tailing off. New money transactions declined by 5.6% to $12.68bn from $13.43bn, while combined refunding and new money transactions increased 42.5% to $7.17bn from $5.03bn in April last year. Negotiated bond sales increased 62.4% to $28.97bn from $17.84bn, competitive deals rose 15.4% to $8.62bn from $7.47 billion and private placements plunged 87.2% to $162mn from $1.26bn. Sales of revenue bonds increased 49.9% to $22.84bn in 421 deals from $15.24bn in 306 deals. General obligation bond volume jumped 29.9% to $14.73bn in 788 issues from $11.34bn in 633 issues. Tax-exempt deals were up 42.4% to $33.88bn, while taxable deals were 24% higher to $3.30bn.Fixed-rate issues increased to $36.75bn in 1,167 issues from $24.85bn in 891 issues the previous year. The volume of deals with bond insurance more than doubled in par amount wrapped to $2.54bn in 161 deals from $1.06bn in 104 transactions. California claimed the top spot among states with $21.47bn of issuance thus far in 2015, up from its No. 2 ranking in the same period of last year with $12.03bn. Texas dropped from first to second with $17.85bn, an increase from $12.31bn the year before. New York remained in third place with $11.91bn so far this year, up from $10.29bn year to date - This morning Lloyds Banking Group said that in Q1 it had made a net profit of £913m and underlying profit was up 21% on the same period last year, to £2.2bn. Moreover, the group said that it was raising its net interest income target above the original target of 2.55%. Graham Spooner, investment research analyst at The Share Centre, says: “These results are good news for investors as they are ahead of forecasts and demonstrate a continued improvement in the company’s performance. The part UK government owned bank additionally reported that it has been benefitting from a resurgent British economy which has led to reduced bad loans and fuelled demand for mortgages. Lloyds announced its first dividend in February since being bailed out and investors should acknowledge that the increasing signs of recovery will boost hopes for a significant dividend growth in the near future. Analysts have become a little more positive on the group and its long term restructuring plans, which appear to be happening faster than expectations. However … the sector [remains] under pressure, as a result of regulatory issues and ahead of the next government sale.” - The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 0.24 points or 0.01% higher to 3487.39, taking the year-to-date performance to +3.63%. The top active stocks today were SingTel, which declined 0.23%, OCBC Bank, which declined 1.84%, DBS, which gained 0.19%, UOB, which gained 0.29% and Keppel Corp, with a 1.02% fall. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained 0.47%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index rose 0.18%. The outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Real Estate Holding and Development Index, which rose 1.00%. The two biggest stocks of the Index - Hongkong Land Holdings and Global Logistic Properties – ended 2.02% higher and 2.23% higher respectively. The underperforming sector was the FTSE ST Consumer Goods Index, which slipped 1.04%. Wilmar International shares remained unchanged and Thai Beverage declined 3.38%.

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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? http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

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.

Website: cib.natixis.com/research/economic.aspx

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