Thursday 2nd July 2015
NEWS TICKER: THURSDAY, JULY 2nd 2015: The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 3.3 points or 0.1% lower to 3327.84, taking the year-to-date performance to -1.11%. The top active stocks today were UOB, which gained 0.82%, DBS, which closed unchanged, Singtel, which declined 0.24%, CapitaLand, which declined 1.13% and Global Logistic, with a 0.78% fall. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index declined 0.06%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index rose 0.02%. The outperforming sectors today were represented by the FTSE ST Basic Materials Index, which rose 0.82%. The two biggest stocks of the Index - Midas Holdings and NSL- ended 1.59% higher and 0.67% lower respectively. The underperforming sector was the FTSE ST Real Estate Investment Trusts Index, which slipped 0.67%. CapitaLand Mall Trust shares declined 2.30% and Ascendas REIT declined 2.41% - According to Flightglobal, China’s state aviation supplier has tentatively signed for up to 75 Airbus A330s in an agreement which will help bridge a production gap to the re-engined A330neo. General terms of the agreement inlcude an order for 45 jets plus a memorandum of understanding for another 30 options. The deal took place during an official visit to France by Chinese premier Li Keqiang. Airbus has long been negotiating the landmark agreement following a preliminary deal to establish an A330 completion centre in Tianjin. The pact with China Aviation Supplies Holding, which is likely to include several aircraft configured in the lower-weight regional version. Meanwhile, Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier says the package is a “new vote of confidence” in the twinjet. “China is today the most important market for aviation in the world,” he adds - Morningstar has upgraded the Royal London UK Equity Income fund to a Morningstar Analyst Rating of Silver. The fund was previously rated Bronze. Experienced manager Martin Cholwill has, over his decade-long tenure on the fund, consistently applied his proven investment process to good effect. His strategy is sensible for delivering yield and competitive total returns for investors, with a focus on free cash flows and valuations. The fund also enjoys a cost advantage over its rivals, with ongoing charges lower than the category norm. These factors have led to a strong and consistent performance profile over a number of years - The amount of outstanding Euro commercial paper (CP) and certificates of deposit (CD) declined significantly in the week ending July 1st, according to CMDPortal data. Outstandings dropped by $11.80bn to $861.59bn during the week. Sovereign, supranational and agency CP outstandings dropped by $2.80bn to $219.44bn. Corporate CP outstandings declined the most during the week by $5.56bn to $89.83bn. Meanwhile financial CP outstandings declined by $3.04bn to $503.37bn - SWIFT says that BTG Pactual, one of Latin America’s largest financial services firms, has joined the Know Your Customer (KYC) Registry, a centralised repository that maintains a standardised set of information about correspondent banks required for KYC compliance. For the KYC Registry, banks contribute an agreed ‘baseline' set of data and documentation for validation by SWIFT, which the contributors can then share with their counterparties. Each bank retains ownership of its own information, as well as control over which other institutions can view it - Laurel Powers-Freeling is to join the board of Atom, the UK’s newest bank, as its senior independent non-executive director. The appointment comes hot on the heels of Atom’s announcement that the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority have approved its digital business model. Powers-Freeling was recently appointed as Chairman of Sumitomo-Mitsui Banking Corporation Europe - China has guaranteed that 100% foreign-owned firms (typically known as WFOEs – Wholly Foreign-Owned Entities) will be able to manufacture and market their own products for sale to mainland clients, operating under exactly the same rules as local private funds. The announcement comes at the end of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which appears to have resulted in unprecedented rights for foreign firms participating in China’s financial markets. Greater access to China’s Interbank Bond (IBB) market has also been granted, with the elimination of firm-level ownership quotas in addition to improved access and operating rights for foreign banks. Finally, Shanghai’s Free Trade Zone (FTZ) has been specified as the testing ground where foreign owners can establish wholly-owned futures companies with access rights to domestic exchanges. China’s opening-up to foreign asset managers is now moving faster than our most optimistic predictions. With that speed in mind, we predict that all of the above opportunities will be available to foreign owners by the end of 2015.

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The European Review

By Patrick Artus, chief economist at Natixis

Without lax monetary and FX policies, fiscal consolidation in the euro zone is impossible

Friday, 01 June 2012 Written by 
Without lax monetary and FX policies, fiscal consolidation in the euro zone is impossible In the past, successful fiscal consolidations occurred through a combination of restrictive fiscal policy, expansionary monetary policy and sharp depreciation of the currency. In many euro-zone countries, as the policy mix is restrictive, fiscal consolidation is failing due to falling real economic activity. All possible ways to make monetary policy in the euro zone more expansionary must therefore be explored. Although there remains little leeway to lower short-term interest rates, it is possible to reduce long-term interest rates in the euro-zone countries where they are abnormally high, both by restoring fiscal credibility and through bond purchases by the ECB. Above all, the euro must be weakened, requiring interventions in the FX market. And if the current trend of restrictive fiscal policies without drastic monetary measures persists, euro-zone countries will end up in recession and with higher, not lower fiscal deficits. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

In the past, successful fiscal consolidations occurred through a combination of restrictive fiscal policy, expansionary monetary policy and sharp depreciation of the currency. In many euro-zone countries, as the policy mix is restrictive, fiscal consolidation is failing due to falling real economic activity. All possible ways to make monetary policy in the euro zone more expansionary must therefore be explored.

Although there remains little leeway to lower short-term interest rates, it is possible to reduce long-term interest rates in the euro-zone countries where they are abnormally high, both by restoring fiscal credibility and through bond purchases by the ECB. Above all, the euro must be weakened, requiring interventions in the FX market. And if the current trend of restrictive fiscal policies without drastic monetary measures persists, euro-zone countries will end up in recession and with higher, not lower fiscal deficits.

Monetary measures during fiscal consolidations in the past

In the nineties, Sweden, Canada, Finland and Italy all successfully consolidated their fiscal position through rapid reductions in fiscal deficits, without negative effects on economic growth and unemployment. This was because fiscal consolidation was systematically combined with a very expansionary monetary policy that included lower interest rates and, above all, a sharp depreciation in the exchange rate to kick things off.



In these countries, the fall in government expenditure was offset by an increase in exports linked to the devaluation of the currency as well as an increase in domestic demand linked to the fall in interest rates.

In the absence of sufficient monetary measures, the fiscal consolidations in several euro-zone countries are failing

The ECB’s policy rate is actually low, but long-term interest rates in the troubled countries have risen markedly, which results in long-term interest rates for the euro zone as a whole that are far too high.

Moreover, although it has depreciated since 2008, the euro is still overvalued against the dollar. And, since euro-zone countries want to reduce their fiscal deficits as quickly as possible, the euro zone’s policy mix is on the whole too restrictive. So it is unsurprising that activity is declining in countries with restrictive fiscal policies: Greece, Portugal, Italy, Spain, Ireland and even the Netherlands.

Indeed, the decline in growth is so substantial that fiscal deficits stopped narrowing in early 2012 in several countries (Spain, Greece, France, Italy and Portugal), requiring additional fiscal austerity measures to be adopted. But these measures will further weaken growth, especially because they are being adopted simultaneously by most of Europe (the euro zone and the United Kingdom). This could lead to an absurd situation later in the year whereby unemployment soars while the fiscal deficits fail to fall. European countries are moving increasingly to the right of the Laffer curve, where a more restrictive fiscal policy subsequently leads to a higher fiscal deficit due to a fall in economic activity.

The only solution: Expansionary monetary and exchange-rate policy

Euro-zone countries are at an impasse if the current policy mix is too restrictive, and the resulting fall in economic activity prevents them from reducing their fiscal deficits. The only solution is then to emulate the successful fiscal consolidations in the nineties by changing over to an expansionary monetary and exchange-rate policy. So – while there is no longer much to be gained from short-term interest rates in the euro zone – it is possible to reduce long-term interest rates in the countries where they are abnormally high.

In order to achieve this, these countries need to regain medium-term fiscal credibility, i.e. financial markets need to be convinced of their determination to stabilise their public debt ratios. This would enable the ECB to resume its government bond purchase programme (SMP) – aimed at accelerating the decline in interest rates – without fear of encouraging these countries to not reduce their deficits.

Furthermore, the euro must be weakened. Indeed, exchange-rate depreciation played an important role in the fiscal consolidation programmes of the nineties. And like Switzerland, China, or once again Japan, the ECB could accumulate foreign exchange reserves (in dollars in the ECB’s case) to push down the euro’s exchange rate against the dollar.

A depreciation of the euro would directly benefit the countries with large-scale industry (Germany, Italy, Ireland, Finland, Austria and Belgium) as well as countries with large-scale exports outside the euro zone (Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany), while Spain, France, Portugal and Greece would indirectly benefit from the positive effects of the euro depreciation on these other euro-zone countries.

Averting disaster

Although resuming its government bond purchase programme and accumulating foreign exchange reserves runs counter to the ECB’s culture, if it does not do this, several euro-zone countries will soon reach the absurd situation of the simultaneous increase in both unemployment and fiscal deficits at the same time that fiscal deficit reduction policies are being carried out. Indeed, the examples from the past clearly show that successful fiscal consolidations have always been combined with expansionary monetary and exchange-rate policy.

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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