Wednesday 1st April 2015
NEWS TICKER: TUESDAY MARCH 31st 2015 : Following a recent Morningstar Analyst Ratings Meeting, Morningstar has downgraded the Artemis UK Smaller Companies fund to a Morningstar Analyst Rating™ of Silver. The fund previously held a Gold rating. Morningstar continues to believe the experienced manager and robust process make this a strong choice for UK small-cap exposure, but Morningstar feels a Silver rating provides a better reflection of the fund’s relative merits within the sector. Indeed, given the manager’s focus on high-quality companies with resilient business models, Morningstar would have expected the fund to protect investors’ capital in 2014 to a greater extent than it did; an outcome which has slightly dented Morningstar’s conviction in the manager’s application of his process - President of the European Council Donald Tusk’s meeting with Prime Minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy today covered many points, but concern over a lack of government in Libya and the causes and consequences of instability and insecurity in the Southern Neighbourhood took up much of the discussion. “The Prime Minister and I had a very open discussion on both the causes and consequences of instability and insecurity in the Southern Neighbourhood. We had a good exchange on what the European Union is already doing - in terms of assistance, counter-terrorism and migration - and how we can better target our efforts to make a real difference,” notes Tusk in a briefing note issued today - Data published today by the Association of Investment Companies (AIC) using Matrix Financial Clarity suggests that investment company total purchases on platforms by advisers and wealth managers were 19% higher least year (with purchases worth £452.7m) and more than double the figure in 2012. In Q4 2014, platform purchases of investment companies were at £110.3m, 10% higher than purchases of £100.3m in Q4 2013 and 90% higher than purchases of £58.1m in Q4 2012. Investment company purchases at £110.3m in Q4 2014 were stable when compared to £110.6m in Q3 2014. Whilst 2014 was a strong year for purchases there was also a significant increase in sales, which rose 40% to £290.9m compared to £208.4m in 2013, suggesting some advisers and wealth managers are taking profits and rebalancing portfolios. Ian Sayers, Chief Executive, AIC, said: “Though sales have increased, we should remember that this trading activity all helps to improve liquidity. The AIC has trained over 3,000 advisers in response to RDR, and has recently increased its resource in this area, with the recruitment of Nick Britton, the AIC’s Head of Training. This will help us to increase awareness and understanding of investment companies with a refreshed training programme and the capability to meet and support more advisers.” The Global and UK Equity Income sectors were the most popular for advisers and wealth managers in 2014 overall, accounting for 18% and 13% of purchases respectively. The Infrastructure and Property Direct – UK were the third and fourth most popular sectors over 2014, accounting for 8% and 7% of purchases respectively. Transact and Ascentric continue to be the top platforms for investment company purchases, accounting for 49% and 20% of the market respectively in 2014. Alliance Trust Savings are increasing in popularity with financial advisers, their market share increasing to 18% in 2014 from 12% in 2013 - The Straits Times Index (STI) ended -7.25 points lower or -0.21% to 3447.01, taking the year-to-date performance to +2.43%. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index declined -0.17% while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index declined -0.24%. The top active stocks were SingTel (+0.46%), DBS (-0.10%), UOB (-0.99%), Global Logistic (+0.38%) and OCBC Bank (-0.75%). The outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Technology Index (+1.08%). The two biggest stocks of the FTSE ST Technology Index are Silverlake Axis (+1.86%) and STATS ChipPAC (unchanged). The underperforming sector was the FTSE ST Basic Materials Index, which declined -1.88% with Midas Holdings’ share price declining -3.23% and Geo Energy Resources’ share price declining -0.52%. The three most active Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) by value today were the IS MSCI India (+0.13%), DBXT MSCI China TRN ETF (+1.25%), DBXT FT China 25 ETF (+0.28%). The three most active Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) by value were CapitaMall Trust (+0.92%), Ascendas REIT (+1.17%), Suntec REIT (-1.07%). The most active index warrants by value today were HSI25000MBeCW150429 (+6.12%), HSI24800MBeCW150528 (+5.80%), HSI24000MBePW150528 (-7.32%) - Mississippi’s Rankin County School District has issued an online survey meant to gauge public opinion of a potential bond issue to build new classrooms. The bond issue would be used for construction of new instructional facilities, and school board officials have been discussing the possibility for a while. No specific details of the amount or number of facilities have been released, but school board Vice President Ann Sturdivant said district personnel are working to assess the needs. Rankin voters rejected a $169.5m bond issue in 2011 to upgrade and build new classrooms, but Sturdivant said she believes people see the need to remedy overcrowding issues, particularly in the Florence, Brandon and Northwest zones and that tapping the US debt capital markets will be a logical step -

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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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