Wednesday 26th November 2014
NEWS TICKER, WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 26TH 2014: According to local press reports, the chief of the UAE stock market regulator wants more industrial companies to list their shares on exchanges dominated by property and investment firms. Abdulla Al Turifi, chief executive of the UAE Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), says the regulator is reviewing applications for initial public offerings of up to four companies to list on the UAE bourses and another three applications for a new secondary market for companies that currently trade only OTC. The UAE is seeking to broaden its industrial base and reduce its reliance on hydrocarbons, but the country’s two main stock exchanges are dominated by property and financial listings. Recent IPOs have come from retail, a sector also previously unrepresented on the exchanges. In February this year, the SCA and the Ministry of Economy issued a law requiring private joint stock companies to list their shares on a second market, in the hope that it would encourage firms to eventually move onto the main board- Moody's has placed the B3 corporate family rating, B3-PD probability of default rating and B1 rating on the senior secured facilities of Reynolds Group Holdings Limited under review for downgrade. The review follows RGHL's announcement that it had entered into a definitive agreement to sell its SIG Combibloc business to Onex Corporation for up to €3.75bn. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2015, pending final regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions - Morocco’s House of Representatives yesterday approved a new law authorising the establishment of Islamic banks and private companies to issue Islamic bonds. Since the Islamist-led government took office in 2011, it has been attempting to develop Islamic finance in the country. The bill was passed unanimously - According to Iran’s Fars News Agency (FNA) Iran’s non-oil exports have grown by 28% since the end of March. Iran’s non-oil exports have surged by 28% since the Persian new year (March 21), Fars News Non-oil export revenues, minus gas condensates, were approximately $18bn this year. Roughly $5bn from the non-oil exports revenues were from tourism (up 32%), though the bulk comes from engineering, workforce and transit services. Some 93% of the country’s non-oil export revenue comes from Asian countries. Imports since the end of March have risen 32% to $21.695bn -IXICO the brain health company, today announces that the contracts for two separate clinical trials in Huntington’s disease with two pharmaceutical companies have been extended. As a consequence, IXICO anticipates the revenue from these two contracts to be significantly enhanced to a potential £2.5m over approximately three years – Any announcement around the sale of Japan Post Holding’s projected IPO now looks to be postponed until January, according to the company’s president Taizo Nishimuro, at a news conference earlier today. In October, the government selected Nomura Securities and ten other underwriters for the initial public offering. The IPO is the first leg of the government's plan to sell up to two-thirds of Japan Post's shares. The government is hoping to raise more than $20bn from the sale - The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed notice to revoke the registrations of Altamont Global Partners LLC (Altamont), a commodity pool operator of Longwood, Florida, and John G. Wilkins a principal, managing member and approximate one-third owner of Altamont. The notice alleges that Altamont and Wilkins are subject to statutory disqualification from CFTC registration based on an order for entry of default judgment and an amended Order of permanent injunction. The orders include findings that Altamont and Wilkins misappropriated commodity pool funds and issued false quarterly statements to pool participants. The notice alleges that Wilkins is subject to statutory disqualification from CFTC registration based on his conviction for conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. A US District Court has sentenced Wilkins to 108 months in federal prison - The Straits Times Index (STI) ended +0.94 points higher or +0.03% to 3345.93, taking the year-to-date performance to +5.72%. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained +0.08% while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index gained +0.08%. The top active stocks were SingTel (+0.26%), Global Logistic (+1.52%), DBS (-0.40%), OCBC Bank (+1.26%) and UOB (-0.42%).The outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Consumer Services Index (+0.40%). The two biggest stocks of the FTSE ST Consumer Services Index are Jardine Cycle & Carriage (+0.29%) and Genting Singapore (+0.44%). The underperforming sector was the FTSE ST Utilities Index, which declined -0.97% with United Envirotech’s share price declining -0.61% and Hyflux’s share price gaining +1.09%. The three most active Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) by value today were the IS MSCI India (+0.78%), SPDR Gold Shares (-0.22%), United SSE 50 China ETF (+2.33%). The three most active Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) by value were Suntec REIT (+0.26%), Ascendas REIT (+0.87%), CapitaMall Trust (+0.51%). The most active index warrants by value were HSI23800MBeCW141230 (+20.35%), HSI24400MBeCW141230 (+18.67%), HSI23600MBePW141230 (-20.00%) and the most active stock warrants by value today were OCBC Bk MBeCW150413 (+6.38%), KepCorp MBePW150330 (-5.88%), UOB MB eCW150415 (unchanged) - Sentiment in the Italian consumer sector has taken another step backwards according to the latest figures this month. The Italian Consumer Confidence indicator has now fallen for a seventh straight month to produce a November reading of just 100.8, from a peak above 106.0 this sentiment metric reached 101.3 last month, market expectations for today’s reading were for a slight rise to 101.6. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) yesterday published a less than optimistic report for the near term growth prospects of the Italian economy. The previous OECD report projected growth for Italy of 0.5% over the full 2014 year but this has now been revised downwards by almost a full point to forecast a 2014 contraction of -0.4%.

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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