Tuesday 24th May 2016
News ticker: Monday, May 23rd: Morningstar has upgraded the Schroder Japan Growth investment trust to a Morningstar Analyst Rating™ of Gold. The investment trust previously held a Silver rating. Peter Brunt, senior manager research analyst at Morningstar, comments: “The fund previously held a Silver rating. We continue to hold fund manager Andrew Rose, the supporting team and the structured process in high regard. Our concerns over the use of gearing have decreased over time, and we no longer see a reason to hold this closed-end vehicle at a differentiated rating to the identically managed Schroder Tokyo OEIC. The fund is therefore upgraded to Gold.” - The SYRIZA/ANEL coalition government secured late yesterday parliamentary approval of a key multi-bill incorporating the legislation required for the implementation of the remaining prior actions attached to the 1st programme review - Turkey’s Halk Bank has partnered with: Intellect Design Arena Limited to automate their Debt Management processes. Intellect’s Debt Management System will enable the Bank to manage its collections and recoveries more effectively and efficiently. The global lending portfolio is expected to be $38trn by 2019, growing at an average of7.9% CAGR. With increasing loans and high expected levels of delinquency, there is an increasing emphasis on strong debt management processes to devise powerful strategies for timely collection. Banks are spending to acquire customers and retain them on the one side, and on the other, they are also spending on collecting owed debt - Following what the asset manager describes as steady growth in the assets of the Threadneedle UK Absolute Alpha Fund, Columbia Threadneedle says it is currently monitoring flows in the fund with the potential to apply further containment measures. The Threadneedle UK Absolute Alpha Fund is managed by Mark Westwood and Chris Kinder, the fund takes long and short positions to deliver an absolute return to clients. As of end April 2016 the fund was £988m, having grown from £373m a year ago. Gary Collins, head of Wholesale, EMEA, at Columbia Threadneedle Investments says. “Our priority is always to protect the interests of existing investors and we have ceased marketing activity and new client pitches over the past year to manage inflows into the Threadneedle UK Absolute Alpha Fund. We are now monitoring new flows with the potential to apply further measures to limit demand if necessary to ensure the investment integrity of the fund is retained.” - Moody's has today withdrawn the A3 issuer rating of BP Finance PLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BP plc (rated A2, positive outlook) for what it says are business reasons - Dragon Capital, says it will list its flagship fund, Vietnam Enterprise Investments Limited (VEIL), on the main market of the London Stock Exchange sometime in July this year. Launched in 1995, VEIL is the largest and longest-running fund focused on Vietnam with a Net Asset Value (NA) of approximately $850m. The London listing is expected to create a more transparent and liquid market in VEIL's shares, widening potential ownership, attracting greater analyst coverage, increasing VEIL's profile and narrowing the discount to NAV at which the shares currently trade. Approximately half of VEIL's NAV is represented by stocks which are at their foreign ownership limits and cannot otherwise be accessed by foreign investors. The move is timely: Vietnam’s GDP rose 6.7% last year – Guaranty Trust Bank plc (GTBank) says it has redeemed the outstanding portion of its $500m eurobond notes due on May 19th. The bank issued a cash tender offer back in February to repurchase all the outstanding eurobond notes (priced at 7.5%), which it says was well received by investors. The issue was the first involving a Nigerian issuer and was secured by its subsidiary GTB Finance, set against an irrevocable bank guarantee. A statement from the bank issued yesterday, an aggregate principal amount of $126,586,000 of the securities were successfully tendered. The outstanding was redeemed from the bank’s cash reserves – Elsewhere in Nigeria, the Federal High Court has ordered former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the federal government to give account of how NGN30trn that accrued to government during the last four years of the former President Goodluck Jonathan's administration was managed.‎ Presiding judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba said in a statement that the former minister of finance and the government should have made the requested information available about the money or given reasons why it could not be obliged within the stipulated period in conformity with the Freedom of Information Act.‎ ‎The judgement was released in a formal statement by civil rights group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)‎ through the office of its deputy director, Olukayode Majekodunmi, saying it embarked on the suit, tagged: FHC/L/CS/196/2015, ‎following the allegations by the former governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Charles Soludo, that at least NGN30trn "has either been stolen or unaccounted for, or grossly mismanaged over the last few years under the watch of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. At the same time, local press report that ex-President Jonathan Goodluck may have gone into exile in the Cote d’Ivoire. It seems that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is about to arrest him to face corruption charges, which would signal a total turnaround for the president whose administration was based on tackling graft in the country - US monetary policy continues to exert its influence on markets. Trading volumes are thin anyway, but clearly there is a risk off sentiment running through and this won’t change until the next FOMC meeting decision; it might be that the market has now factored in a rise in June despite mixed data emanating from the US. Right now, there are more pressing worries about the outcome of the upcoming G7 meeting, with expectations that the group will fall apart over the application of monetary policy. The outcome of the Ise-Shima G7 summit on May 26th and 27th will weigh on markets for most of this week as the US talks increasingly stridently about the ‘threat’ of competitive currency devaluation. What is a central bank with a rising currency such as the yen and declining exports (down 10.1% in April on a year on year basis) meant to do? The other worrying trend is the increasingly racist and toxic tone of the Leave camp in the Brexit campaign. How many insults can be directed at ‘foreigners’ in the UK without someone calling for restraint? - Asian markets had a mixed day. That inverse relationship between the yen and the Japanese stock market was still writ large today. The Nikkei 225 closed down 81.75 points, or 0.49 percent, at 16,654.60, retracing earlier losses of more than 1.5%, while the dollar-yen pair ultimately retreated to 109.75/$1.00. The Kospi rose 0.39% but the Hang Seng lost 0.38% over the day. The Shanghai Composite rose 0.66% while the Shenzhen Composite did better, rising 1.45%, across the water the ASX200 was down 0.6%. The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 3.11 points or 0.11% higher to 2766.93, taking the year-to-date performance to -4.02%. The top active stocks today were DBS, which gained 0.53%, Global Logistic, which declined 1.64%, SingTel, which gained 0.78%, OCBC Bank, which gained 0.36% and UOB, with a0.56% advance. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index declined 0.08%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index rose0.14% - Today, traders will be watching PMI data from France, Germany, and headline eurozone.

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What kind of economy would the euro zone be without Germany?

Thursday, 28 June 2012 Written by 
What kind of economy would the euro zone be without Germany? There is increasing talk about establishing federalist mechanisms (eurobonds, eurobills) and pooling certain risks and investments between euro-zone countries (European bank guarantees, recapitalisation of banks by the EFSF-ESM, increased investments by the EIB, EFSF-ESM access to ECB funding, purchases of government bonds by the ECB). Germany's criticism of these proposals is that they ultimately place all the costs and all the risks on Germany, due to its economic, fiscal and financial situation and its credibility in financial markets. It is claimed that eventually all the bills will be sent to Germany, since the other euro area countries have no fiscal or financial leeway or any credibility to guarantee deposits and loans. We shall therefore examine the economy of the euro zone excluding Germany and ask the question: Is it in such a bad situation that federalism or the pooling of risks and investments between euro-zone countries would in fact amount to potentially placing the entire burden on Germany? We think that Germany’s fears are justified. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

There is increasing talk about establishing federalist mechanisms (eurobonds, eurobills) and pooling certain risks and investments between euro-zone countries (European bank guarantees, recapitalisation of banks by the EFSF-ESM, increased investments by the EIB, EFSF-ESM access to ECB funding, purchases of government bonds by the ECB). Germany's criticism of these proposals is that they ultimately place all the costs and all the risks on Germany, due to its economic, fiscal and financial situation and its credibility in financial markets. It is claimed that eventually all the bills will be sent to Germany, since the other euro area countries have no fiscal or financial leeway or any credibility to guarantee deposits and loans.

We shall therefore examine the economy of the euro zone excluding Germany and ask the question: Is it in such a bad situation that federalism or the pooling of risks and investments between euro-zone countries would in fact amount to potentially placing the entire burden on Germany?

We think that Germany’s fears are justified.

Federalism: pooling between euro-zone countries

The resolution of the euro-zone crisis will inevitably involve establishing certain forms of federalism (eurobonds, eurobills) and the pooling of certain investments and risks (a European bank guarantee system, the recapitalisation of the banks (e.g. Spanish banks) by the EFSF-ESM, an increase in structural funds or investments by the EIB, ESM access to ECB funding).



The pooling of risks between euro-zone countries already exists: the Target 2 accounts are a pooling of bank risks among euro-zone central banks, and purchases of government bonds by the ECB pool sovereign risk.

This trend to federalism and pooling is inevitable: in a monetary union without federalism, countries with external surpluses and countries with external deficits cannot coexist permanently due to the resulting accumulation of external debt.

A number of financing needs are too substantial to be borne by a single country, e.g. for Spain the need for recapitalisation of its banks. And a number of risks (e.g. the risk of a bank run) are also too great not to be pooled.

Is this move towards federalism and pooling a trap for Germany?

The view in Germany is clearly that this move towards federalism and pooling is a trap for Germany. It is claimed that Germany will have to cover most of the costs because it has public finances in good health, growth that is now stronger, higher living standards than the countries in distress, and excess savings.

Germany also has strong credibility in financial markets, as shown by its interest rate level, and it is the only country to be able to credibly insure risks and guarantee loans.

The Germans' concern is therefore understandable: if there is federalism and a pooling of investments and risks, will Germany "receive all the bills"?

To determine whether this is a real risk, let’s examine the situation of the euro zone without Germany: is it such a worrying region, will it have to be propped up permanently by Germany?

The economic and financial situation of the euro zone without Germany: Is it serious?

Without going into greater detail for each country, we shall examine:

·                   its competitiveness, the foreign trade situation; the weight of industry;

·                   its situation regarding its technological level, skills, productivity and investment; its potential growth;

·                   the situation of its businesses and households;

·                   its public finances.

1. Foreign trade, competitiveness, weight of industry

The euro zone without Germany has:

·                   a structural external deficit;

·                   a shortfall in competitiveness;

·                   a small industrial base;

·                   a large external debt.

2. Technological level, skills, investment, productivity and potential growth, capacity for job creation

The technological level of the euro zone without Germany is fairly low, as is the population's level of education; this zone invests little, has low productivity gains, and since 2008 it has destroyed jobs massively.

3. Situation of businesses and households

Corporate profitability in the euro zone excluding Germany is low, but private (corporate and household) debt is lower than in Germany; however, household solvency has deteriorated (in Germany, household defaults are low and stable; in France, Spain and Italy, they are high and rising).

4. Public finance situation

The public finances of the euro zone excluding Germany are in a very poor state compared with Germany. Indeed Germany’s debt to GDP ratio is expected to fall, while in the euro zone excluding Germany it should rise rapidly toward 100%; Germany has a 1% primary surplus, while the euro zone excluding Germany has a 2% primary deficit.

Conclusion: Are the German fears justified?

If the euro zone were to become a federal monetary union, with solidarity between countries and pooling of certain investments (recapitalisation of banks, for example) and risks, surely the rest of the euro zone excluding Germany could only be:

·                   benefiting from transfers from Germany;

·                   benefiting from Germany's credibility in the markets;

·                   benefiting from Germany's guarantee;

Or could it share this burden with Germany? We suspect that the burden on Germany would be very heavy.

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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