Friday 27th May 2016
NEWS TICKER: THURSDAY, MAY 26TH - Dan Carter has been appointed lead manager of the Jupiter Japan Income Fund, with immediate effect. Dan, who is currently deputy manager of the fund will take over from Simon Somerville, who will be leaving Jupiter after eleven years. Carter has 12 years’ experience of analysing and managing Japanese equities, and has worked alongside Somerville for eight years. He has also lead managed the Jupiter Japan Select Sicav fund, aimed at international clients, since 2013, having been deputy manager for two years. There will be no change to the investment philosophy of the fund says Jupiter and the funds will continue to be managed alongside each other, ensuring continuity for investors. There is a significant overlap between the two portfolios in terms of the companies they are invested in. The funds seek to own long-term positions in cash-generative, income-paying Japanese companies that are run for shareholders, have a genuine competitive advantage and offer real, identifiable growth opportunities that he believes are underappreciated by the market. Carter joined Jupiter in 2008 as an analyst on the Far Eastern Equities team. Before that he was a Fund Manager at Odey Asset Management on the Japanese equities team, and was previously at Baillie Gifford & Co, where he was an investment analyst for both the Japanese equities and UK large-cap equities teams - CME Group Executive Chairman and President Terry Duffy will appear before the Illinois House Revenue and Finance Committee today to discuss how imposing a proposed tax on financial transactions would harm Illinois consumers, agricultural producers, businesses and the state economy. "Imposing a financial transaction tax will not alleviate the state's budget crisis, and instead would have a negative impact on consumers because the cost of hedging their business risks would go up as much as 800 percent," said Duffy. "If enacted, every business that uses any risk management tools would face higher costs as bid/ask spreads widen. Farmers, ranchers and other businesses in Illinois and all over the country would be forced to pass along those costs to consumers, who would pay more for food, gas, airline tickets and other products. Additionally, a transaction tax would put the largest exchange in the US, which is headquartered in Illinois, at a competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace." The hearing is scheduled for 10:00 am CT in the Capitol Building in Springfield, Illinois. Duffy's testimony will be available on www.cmegroup.com at the same time as the hearing - Moody's has upgraded to A3 from Baa1 the senior unsecured debt ratings of Autoroutes du Sud de la France (ASF). Concurrently, Moody's has upgraded to (P)A3 from (P)Baa1 the rating on the company's €8bn medium-term note (EMTN) programme. The outlook on the ratings is stable. The upgrade reflects ASF's strengthening financial profile on the back of a strong traffic performance and expected future traffic growth, says the ratings agency. ASF is expected to exhibit funds from operation/debt metrics firmly in the mid-teens in percentage terms, which Moody's considers commensurate with the A3 rating level. In 2015, ASF reported traffic growth of 3.1% compared to the previous year. “We expect traffic growth to moderate during the year, although the 2016 annual traffic increase is anticipated to be at least 2%. The positive traffic trends, which offset the financial impact of the 2015 tolls freeze and the relatively limited toll increases in 2016(1.63% for ASF and 1.18% for Escota), are supportive of ASF's credit profile in the context of the group's increasing investments associated with the implementation of the so-called Plan de Reliance Autoroutier (a government stimulus plan),” says Moody’s. ASF is expected to implement capital expenditure worth €800m per annum over the next three years - The European Parliament has approved aid on Thursday worth €6,468,000 for 557 redundant workers from the “Larissa” supermarket in Greece and €5,146,800 for 2,132 former drivers for the road haulage and delivery firm MoryGlobal SAS in France. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aid will still need to be approved by the Council of Ministers on June 6th. In Greece, Larissa’s 422 employees and 135 worker-owners were made redundant when the cooperative supermarket was declared bankrupt. In France, MoryGlobal’s 2,132 lorry drivers and their delivery colleagues lost their jobs due to its bankruptcy and closure. Both bankruptcies resulted from the prolonged global financial and economic crisis which has devastated the Greek economy and deeply affected the road haulage sector. The measures, co-financed by the EGF and the Greek and French governments, would help the workers to find new jobs by providing them with occupational guidance and other assistance schemes. The aid request from France was passed by 540 votes to 73, with 2 abstentions. The request from Greece was approved by 551 votes to 67, with two abstentions. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was introduced in 2007 as a flexible instrument in the EU budget to provide support, under specific conditions, to workers who have lost their jobs as a result of mass redundancies caused by major changes in global trade (e.g. delocalisation to third countries). The EGF contributes to packages of tailor-made services to help redundant workers find new jobs. Its annual ceiling is €150m. Redundant workers are offered measures such as support for business start-ups, job-search assistance, occupational guidance and various kinds of training - Pirum Systems says Ben Challice will be joining as chief operating officer, responsible for strategic product and market development. Challice joins from Nomura, where he headed up Global Prime Services – which included Equity Finance, Prime Brokerage and Delta One at Nomura and previously held senior positions at Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs - Catella has appointed Antti Louko to head its Finnish operations and to establish a new corporate finance unit in Helsinki. Louko will join Catella as managing director of Catella Property Oy and head of the new corporate finance unit, from November. Louko joins Catella from a role as head of real estate at Advium Corporate Finance Oy where he headed the real estate team. He previously worked as the director responsible for transactions at SRV Group, and at Aberdeen Property Investors - Advanced payments tech firm SafeCharge says Umberto Corridori has been appoint vice president of sales for Europe. Corridori has held senior roles in large companies such as Dell Italy and joins after a long tenure at PayPal where he served as head of sales Italy & iGaming CEMEA - AIM-listed Xtract Resources PLC says it has entered into an agreement to sell the Manica Gold project in Mozambique to Nexus Capital and Mineral Technologies International Ltd for $17.5m in cash. The firm says some of the proceeds will be used to settle outstanding payments owed to Auroch over the acquisition of the Manica licence. Xtract adds that it expects to have remaining cash proceeds of approximately $12m. Under the agreement, Xtract will sell its 100% interest in Explorator Limitada, the entity which holds title to the Manica mining licence 3990C on completion of the deal. Xtract said it is expected that a bankable feasibility study, to assess the viability of developing and mining a hard rock gold deposit identified within the Manica licence, will be completed in the second quarter of 2016, Mine construction is planned to begin in the fourth quarter, with first production to follow in the final quarter of 2017. Mining of the alluvial gold deposit is planned for the third quarter this year – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is providing up to €294m in local currency equivalent for two ground-breaking projects to increase the use of domestically produced natural gas and largely replace the use of coal in Kazakhstan. The first project is the upcoming modernisation and refurbishment of the underground storage in Bozoi in the Bank’s first-ever cooperation with the national gas company KazTransGas (KTG). An EBRD loan equivalent to €242m in local currency to the KazTransGas subsidiary Intergas Central Asia will allow for the upgrade of the storage to its full capacity of 4bn cubic metres (bcm), from the current limit of 2.6 bcm - United Utilities reported a 0.6% rise in full year revenue to £1.73bn this morning, although the new regulated price controls contributed to a 9% drop in underlying operating profit to £604m. The company says it is confident of reaching its targets for capital expenditure in the first year of the new regulatory period and announced plans to invest £100m across the 2015-2020 period in renewable energy projects, mainly solar power. The final dividend was raised 2% to 25.6p, making a total of 38.45p for the year – Ahead of its planned initial public offering in Australia, fantasy sports app Sports Hero has raised an additional $2.4m in funding. SportsHero is a new app that lets sports fans dabble in match predictions and show their skills off against friends and other game-watchers. The app is made by the team behind Singapore-based TradeHero, a virtual trading app backed by more than $10m from investors. - DONG Energy has set an indicative price range for its planned stock market listing of 17.4% of its shares at DKR200 to DKR255 per share, giving the group a market value of DKR83.5bn to DKR106.5bn ( between $12.6bn and $16bn), making it Europe’s biggest float this year. The state-controlled company, is one of the world’s largest offshore wind farm developers -

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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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