Wednesday 1st July 2015
NEWS TICKER: WEDNESDAY, JULY 1st 2015: at €149.3bn in June (June 2014: €93.7bn). Some €140.1bn is attributable to Xetra (June 2014: €86.2bn). The average daily turnover on Xetra stood at €6.4 billion in June (June 2014: €4.1 bn).A turnover of €4.1bn was attributable to Börse Frankfurt (June 2014: €3.9bn) - Equity trading volumes on the Vienna Stock Exchange amounted to €30.60bn from January to June 2015. This corresponds to an increase of 24 % versus the same period last year. Following particularly lively turnover in March, trading activity has remained strong in subsequent months. The average monthly turnover in the first half-year was around €5.1bn, 28% higher than in the previous year (2014: €3.98bn). Rising prices were not the only factor driving up trading volumes - the number of exchange trades was also up this year from 38.8% (exchange trades executed: HY1 2014: 2.85m; HY1 2015: 3.96m). Austrian companies have raised a volume of €195m in fresh capital through capital increases in the first half of 2015 - Markit (Nasdaq: MRKT), the financial information services provider, says it has completed its acquisition of Information Mosaic, a software provider for corporate actions and post trade securities processing. The Information Mosaic business is being integrated into Markit’s Solutions division and will be led by Paul Taylor, managing director, reporting to Michele Trogni, managing director and cohead of Solutions - Gerry Rice, director of communications at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), made the following statement today regarding Greece’s financial obligations to the IMF due today: “I confirm that the SDR 1.2 billion repayment (about EUR 1.5bn) due by Greece to the IMF today has not been received. We have informed our Executive Board that Greece is now in arrears and can only receive IMF financing once the arrears are cleared. I can also confirm that the IMF received a request today from the Greek authorities for an extension of Greece’s repayment obligation that fell due today, which will go to the IMF’s Executive Board in due course.” - Morningstar has downgraded the Neptune European Opportunities fund to a Morningstar Analyst Rating™ of Bronze. The fund previously held a Silver rating. The fund remains a solid choice as an unconstrained European equity offering, boasting a talented and longstanding manager in Rob Burnett. However, the risk-return profile of the fund has deteriorated over recent years as the manager has made a number of ill-timed shifts in the portfolio which have resulted in significant performance variability and heavily weighed on the fund’s three- and five-year risk-adjusted returns. Whilst Morningstar continues to think very well of Burnett and expects investors to benefit from his moves to limit short-term trading and make better use of the risk management tools at his disposal, Morningstar believes a Bronze rating provides a better reflection of the fund’s relative merits – The shares of Cassiopea were traded for the first time under the Main Standard of SIX Swiss Exchange, opening at CHF35.00. This corresponds to a total market capitalisation of around CHF350m - Further to its public offer of up to 1,000,000 Certificates to be issued by Deutsche Bank AG under its X-markets programme, the bank has issued 45,000 securities at a price of U$100 per certificate today. Application has been made for the Securities to be admitted to listing on the official list of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange and to trading on the Euro-MTF market of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange - The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 13.81 points or 0.42% higher to 3331.14, taking the year-to-date performance to -1.01%. The top active stocks today were Singtel, which gained 1.19%, SGX, which gained 4.47%, DBS, which declined 0.92%, OCBC Bank, which declined 0.10% and Global Logistic, with a 1.19% advance. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained 0.09%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index rose 0.14%. The outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Real Estate Holding and Development Index, which rose 1.35%. The two biggest stocks of the Index - Hongkong Land Holdings and Global Logistic Properties – ended 2.32% higher and 1.19% lower respectively. The underperforming sector was the FTSE ST Technology Index, which slipped 1.63%. Silverlake Axis shares declined 3.57% and STATS ChipPAC gained 0.97%.

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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

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