Thursday 11th February 2016
NEWS TICKER: February 11th 2016: Gaming machine operators will be hit the hardest by the Italian government's plans to reform the gaming sector in 2016, says Moody's in a report published today. "Under the 2016 draft budget law the Italian government plans to overhaul the gaming and sports betting industries. We expect a moderate increase in taxes for gaming machine operators, which is credit negative," says Donatella Maso, a VP-Senior Analyst at Moody's. "In addition, licence renewals for betting shops and corners will result in high one-off costs, although it is unclear whether these will occur in 2016 or the following year." However, the measures under the draft budget law are not as severe as some companies and investors had expected based on the first draft of the law proposed last October - Fixed income manager BlueBay Asset Management has hired Jean-Yves Guibert and Marc Kemp into their Global Leveraged Finance team. Based in London, Guibert has joined as a senior credit analyst in High Yield from BNP Paribas, where he was head of European High Yield Sector Specialists and Marc Kemp has joined as institutional portfolio manager. Kemp was previously at JPMorgan, where he was most latterly a managing director and head of European High Yield Sales. Justin Jewell, co-head of Global Leveraged Finance Long Only says, “In normal credit cycles, the period of market stress is usually sharp but short lived and corresponds with worsening economic conditions. This cycle could be very different, as the distortions created by zero interest rate policies and quantitative easing (and their reversal) will likely result in economic and credit cycles that are less closely aligned. We would further argue that this cycle will likely show a lengthier period of spread widening, as defaults are likely to occur over a longer period.” - Marsh, a global leader in insurance broking and risk management, has appointed Sir Iain Lobban KCMG CB, former Director of the UK security and intelligence organisation GCHQ, as senior adviser on Cyber Risk. In the newly-created role, Sir Iain will provide strategic advice as Marsh works with governments, regulators and clients on how best to address the growing threat of cyber risk. He will report to Mark Weil, CEO, Marsh UK & Ireland and join Marsh’s global Cyber Centre of Excellence. Sir Iain was Director of GCHQ – the UK government’s communications headquarters– between 2008 and 2014 having previously served as director general of operations from 2004 - BNP Paribas Securities Services has won a mandate to provide Nationwide Building Society with clearing and custody services for the UK market. Nationwide Building Society is the world’s largest building society with assets of £200b, and 15 million customers across the UK. BNP Paribas Securities Services has been appointed as the settlement and gilt custody provider, safekeeping Nationwide Building Society’s £12.7bn worth of gilt assets in the UK. - The UK Debt Management Office says an additional £149.975m nominal of 3½% Treasury Gilt 2045 will be created for settlement on 12 February 2016 inrespect of the amount purchased by the Gilt-edged Market Makers and investors during the Post-Auction Option Facility, which closed at 2pm today. This additional stock will be sold at the average accepted price of £127.524 and will take the total amount outstanding of3½% Treasury Gilt 2045 to £25,315,238,000.00 nominal - The Lyxor Hedge Fund Index was down -0.9% in January. 5 out of 11 Lyxor Indices ended the month in positive territory. The Lyxor CTA Long Term Index (+2.2%), the Lyxor Global Macro Index (+0.7%), and the Lyxor Fixed Income Arbitrage Index (+0.7%) were the best performers, says the ETF major. Hedge Funds displayed esilience in January. Both markets and analysts started the year with reasonable growth expectations. These were aggressively revised down, triggered by the release of the disappointing Chinese PMI and the CNY depreciation. Strikingly, investors started to price in more serious odds for a Chinese hard landing, the growing central banks’ impotence, the risk of a US recession, and the return of global deflation. Lyxor says, in that context, CTAs thrived on their short commodities and long bond exposures. FI Arbitrage and Global Macro funds exploited monetary relative and tactical opportunities. To the exception of the L/S Equity Long Bias and Special Situations funds – hit on their beta - the other strategies managed to deliver flat to modestly negative returns - Why did investors think that the US Fed would raise rates in this jittery global market? Investors shed stocks in Asia today, on the back of what was a reasonable statement to the House of Representatives Finance Committee, that the US central bank would remain cautious on future rate hikes. According to Swissquote analysts, “Recent market turmoil and uncertainties surrounding China’s growth prospect could weigh on US growth if proven persistent. A few days ago, Stanley Fisher, Fed Vice Chairman, also delivered a cautious speech reminding us that Fed policy will remain data dependent and that it was too soon to tell whether the current market conditions will prevent the Fed from moving on with its rate cycle”. The global mood among central banks is towards an accommodative rather than tightening monetary policy: this was a theme that investors applauded last year and only last month as the ECB signalled a continuation of its policy, but it wasn’t what Wall Street wanted to hear and early gains lost out to negative sentiment and the US markets ended lower for four days in a row. The real worry of course is that ultra-loose monetary policy signals the fears of central bankers that the global economy continues to wind downwards and that consideration is fueling investor fears. Asia’s trading story has been writ in stone for the last few weeks with havens such as gold, the yen and government bonds the main beneficiaries of continued investor jitters. In commodities, Brent crude oil was down 1.3% at $30.43, while WTI crude futures fell 2.7% to $26.70, despite a drawdown in US stockpiles. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 3.9%, catching up with the week's selloff as the market reopened from a holiday. South Korea’s Kospi ended the day down 2.93%, while in Singapore the STI fell 0.77%. Japan's market and China's Shanghai Composite Index were both closed. The dollar was down 1.8% against the yen at ¥ 111.28, a sixteen-month low for the dollar against the Japanese currency. In other currencies, the euro was up 0.4% against the dollar at $1.1325, its highest since October. Spot gold in London gained 1.1% to $1218.18 a troy ounce, its highest level since May. In focus today, will likely be the Swedish Riskbank policy decision, with expectations for already negative rates to go even lower. “Markets may like cheap money for longer but they definitely don’t like the idea of a major market turn-down and another recession, hence discussion about need for US negative rates sapping risk appetite overnight. Note Janet Yellen testifying again today, although yesterday likely saw the most important information already discussed,” says Accendo Markets analysts.

Latest Video

Blog

The European Review

By Patrick Artus, chief economist at Natixis

The core reason for asymmetry between the German and French economies: corporate profitability

Friday, 25 May 2012 Written by 
The core reason for asymmetry between the German and French economies: corporate profitability The main explanation for asymmetry between the French and German economies is that in France, companies’ production capacity is unable to keep up with domestic demand, whereas in Germany it is growing faster than domestic demand. This difference is related to corporate profitability: high and rising in Germany, but low and falling in France, which is limiting French companies’ investment capacity. There are two plausible causes for the profitability gap between German and French companies: the higher level of product sophistication and diversification that gives more pricing power to German companies; and the nature of labour market negotiations, where the link between the labour market and the economy is much stronger in Germany than in France. Yet – if no new economic policies are introduced to improve the profitability of French companies – it is more than likely that the country’s economic situation will not improve. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

The main explanation for asymmetry between the French and German economies is that in France, companies’ production capacity is unable to keep up with domestic demand, whereas in Germany it is growing faster than domestic demand. This difference is related to corporate profitability: high and rising in Germany, but low and falling in France, which is limiting French companies’ investment capacity. There are two plausible causes for the profitability gap between German and French companies: the higher level of product sophistication and diversification that gives more pricing power to German companies; and the nature of labour market negotiations, where the link between the labour market and the economy is much stronger in Germany than in France. Yet – if no new economic policies are introduced to improve the profitability of French companies – it is more than likely that the country’s economic situation will not improve.

The economic asymmetry between France and Germany

The main reason for economic asymmetry between France and Germany, which also explains the differences between their current account balance situations, is the ability of companies to build up production capacity to meet domestic demand.



Indeed, domestic demand in France has increased much faster than GDP meaning that its inability to meet excess demand through domestic production has cost them potential economic growth. And its production capacity for industrial products in particular has been unable to keep up with domestic demand. This is in stark contrast to Germany, however, where domestic demand is actually weak relative to supply.

The role of corporate profitability

A key explanation for the differences between German and French companies’ investment capacity is corporate profitability, particularly in the manufacturing industry. Indeed, corporate profitability has been growing in Germany but declining in France since 2000. This is because, unlike in Germany, French companies are faced with cost increases that exceed price increases, particularly in the industrial sector. Furthermore, French companies have been unable to pass on increases in production costs to consumers, explaining the long-run decline in profitability since 2001.

Indeed, the low profitability of French companies is an obstacle to investment that German companies are not lumbered with. Furthermore, German firms’ self-financing rate (the ratio of savings to fixed capital) essentially exceeds 100%, explaining why there is a faster rate of productive investment in Germany. Meanwhile, the greater capacity for investment in Germany will be amplified if it becomes more difficult to obtain credit, which is likely to be the case in France due to the impact of new prudential rules for banks.

Causes of low corporate profitability in France

There are two major causes for French companies’ poorer profitability:

1. Less sophisticated industrial products

The fact that French industrial companies are unable to pass increases in production costs on to consumers shows their weak pricing power and the low level of product sophistication. Demand for French products is therefore price sensitive, which is not the case for German products, and explains why France’s export market share fell when the euro appreciated between 2002 and 2008 yet Germany’s did not. Meanwhile, it could also be said that France is stuck in a vicious circle: the low product sophistication of French companies reduces their profitability, which reduces their ability to invest and enhance the quality of their products.

2. The nature of labour market negotiations

The rise in unemployment and the weakness of activity has caused a significant slowdown in wage growth in Germany. However, this has not occurred in France, where wages have been less sensitive to the performance of the economy. Since wage costs remain high, it is more difficult for French companies to enhance corporate profitability after periods of weak growth.

Indeed, profitability remained low in France from 2003 to 2007 and from 2010 to 2012, yet improved in Germany. So labour market negotiations in France seem to favour "insiders" (employees who have kept their jobs) instead of encouraging firms to hire new staff. But in Germany it is easier to negotiate the wages of existing employees and therefore to recruit new staff.

Which economic policy approaches should be used in France in order to address these issues?

Government policy should seek to boost corporate profitability by:

  • Lowering labour costs to restore profit margins for French companies and to boost investment. This can be achieved through tax reforms that reduce the weight of welfare contributions;
  • Helping French companies to invest more despite their low self-financing rate. This could include government intervention such as public-sector funding or loans via state-owned banks, as well as through the development of a large corporate bond market;
  • Helping companies to improve product sophistication through government research grants, government contracts for technological products, and offering support for new industries: digital, energy, etc.;
  • And finally, by changing the nature of negotiations between unions and employers in France to ensure the employment component is taken into account in negotiations.
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

Related News

Related Articles

Related Blogs

Related Videos

Current Issue