Friday 30th January 2015
NEWS TICKER: THURSDAY, JANUARY 29TH 2015: Following a recent Morningstar Analyst Ratings meeting, Morningstar has moved the Morningstar Analyst Rating™ of the Aviva Investors Global Convertibles fund to Neutral. The fund was previously Under Review following the departure of co-managers David Clott and Shawn Mato. Prior to being place Under Review, the fund was rated Bronze. London-based co-manager, Justin Craib-Cox, who was running the fund alongside the duo has since been appointed lead manager. Craib-Cox was previously responsible for European convertibles and Morningstar is concerned by the considerable increase in his workload, which is only partly alleviated by increased support from Aviva’s equity and credit teams. The company is looking to recruit additional convertibles specialists, however, Morningstar’s limited visibility on the ultimate structure of the team, combined with Craib-Cox’s workload, lead Morningstar to a Neutral rating -Japan Airlines (JAL) has firmed up an order with Mitsubishi Aircraft for 32 MRJ regional jets, having signed a letter of intent in August 2014. The carrier will deploy the MRJs from 2021, to be operated by its wholly-owned regional subsidiary J-AIR, says JAL and Mitsubishi Aircraft in a joint statement - The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Robert E. Rice, Chief Counsel to Chair Mary Jo White, will leave the agency at the end of February. Chair White named Rice her chief counsel in June 2013. “Bob is one of the brightest and finest professionals I have ever known,” said SEC Chair Mary Jo White. “I relied on his impeccable judgment on a variety of important enforcement and regulatory issues, and I am very grateful to him for his service to the agency and to me.” Before coming to the SEC, Mr. Rice worked from 2004 to 2013 at Deutsche Bank AG in New York, where he oversaw all regulatory and criminal enforcement, litigation and governance matters in the Americas, and was the global co-head of the bank’s Governance, Litigation and Regulation Operating Committee. From 2000 to 2004, Mr. Rice was a partner at McDermott, Will & Emery in New York, where he concentrated his practice in white collar regulatory and criminal defense matters on behalf of corporate entities and corporate officers and directors. - The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) issued a Financial Institution Letter yesterday encouraging supervised institutions to take a risk-based approach in assessing individual customer relationships, rather than declining to provide banking services to entire categories of customers without regard to the risks presented by an individual customer or the financial institution's ability to manage the risk. The FDIC also reinforced the agency's policies on managing customer relationships to examiners and other supervisory staff. Financial institutions that properly manage customer relationships and effectively mitigate risks are neither prohibited nor discouraged from providing services to any category of customer accounts or individual customers operating in compliance with applicable laws. FDIC examiners must provide notice in writing for any case in which an institution is directed to exit a customer relationship - US mid-market investment bank BR & Co says it will release results for the fourth quarter and full year of 2014 before the market opens on Wednesday, February 11th -.Chile’s Minister of Economy, Development and Tourism, Luis Felipe Céspedes, along with General Manager Sercotec Bernardo Troncoso, made ​​a visit to the antique del Barrio Italy yesterday to introduce new programs for productive development that will display Sercotec for entrepreneurs , micro and small businesses during 2015 - Moody's de Mexico has upgraded debt ratings to Baa1 (Global Scale, local currency) from Baa2 and to Aaa.mx (Mexico National Scale) from Aa2.mx of the following five enhanced loans to the state of Chihuahua: MXN4.5bn from Banco Interacciones (original face value) with a maturity of 20 years; MXN1.38bn from BBVA-Bancomer (original face value) with a maturity of 20 years; MXN 2.03bn from BBVA-Bancomer (original face value) with a maturity of 20 years; MXN1.72bn from BBVA-Bancomer (original face value) with a maturity of 20 years; MXN3bn from Multiva (original face value) with a maturity of 17 years (MXN1.4bn disposed of). The ratings agency also assigned debt ratings of Baa1 (Global Scale, local currency) and Aaa.mx (Mexico National Scale) to the following enhanced loans: MXN1.995bn from Banorte (original face value) with a maturity of 20 years; MXN1bn from Santander (original face value) with a maturity of 20 years. All the enhanced loans are payable through a master trust (Evercore as trustee F/0152), to which the state has pledged the flows and rights to 56.98% of its federal participation revenues. All the loans under this master trust share the cash flow and are paid on a pari passu basis. - The January monthly energy review by the EIA was released yesterday evening. Preliminary estimates of US residential energy consumption suggest that for October 2014 total energy consumption equaled 1.3 quadrillion Btu, a 2% decrease from October 2013. Electricity retail sales and electrical system energy losses accounted for 73% of residential sector total energy consumption, while natural gas accounted for 16% of residential sector total energy consumption, renewable energy accounted for 6%, and petroleum accounted for 5% - Celent has released a new report, titled, IT Spending in Banking: A North American Perspective. The report is authored by Jacob Jegher, a research director with Celent's Banking practice. North American IT spending growth is rising steadily, he says, and is expected to be 4.5% higher in 2015. Growth will drop slightly in 2016 as IT spending by North American banks reaches US$64.8 billion, an increase of 4.2%. In the report, Celent examines, analyses, and contrasts the IT spending patterns of US and Canadian banks. The firm says North American bank IT spending will grow from $59.5bn in 2014 to $62.2bn in 2015. This year, the firm adds, is shaping up to be another promising one for retail banking; significant funds are still required to move forward and maintain self-service initiatives, digital banking projects/overhauls, branch transformation initiatives, and omni-channel endeavours. Additionally, mobile banking will continue to receive significant attention as banks aim to build on existing smartphone and tablet apps. Analytics, omni-channel banking, compliance/regulatory, and IT security investments will also be priorities. Spending on corporate banking will continue to climb through new component or module-based initiatives. Midsize banks are still very much looking to compete with larger banks that have invested significant amounts over the last several years. Small business is also a growing area of interest because banks still haven't figured out how to attack this distinct and attractive market segment. "The figures point to another strong year; 2015 is poised to build on the growth experienced last year," says Jegher. – The CME Group advises that the deadline to claim a SMART Click ID for GPS and BPS will be February 6th, 2015. After this date, there will no longer be an option to login with a Legacy ID and both applications will only be accessible with a SMART Click ID. Applicants can create a SMART Click ID (if you do not have one already) or claim your Legacy ID via the GPS and BPS portals and both applications must be claimed independently prior to the deadline. The CME says that after February 6th, the GPS and BPS applications will no longer be available via the CME Portal. These applications will only be available via ‘direct’ links following direct links: https://gps.cmegroup.com; https://bps.cmegroup.com; and https://login.cmegroup.com - China’s debt build up since the global financial crisis ranks as one of the largest in recent history (in the 97th percentile of debt-to-GDP changes in a sample of 55 countries over the past 50 years) according to Goldman Sachs’ latest Global Economics Weekly research report. The bank says the development is new and is a major global macro concern for investors. Deteriorating external conditions and declining investment efficiency have contributed to the debt build-up. The research team says that while the risk is significant, its analysis exploring the aftermath of large debt build-ups over the past half-century suggests that credit booms do not always end in deep recessions or banking crises. “GDP growth typically decelerates by at least 3-4pp after credit booms, although in China’s case some slowing has already occurred. Smoothing the adjustment process is likely to require increased central government fiscal outlays and policy interest rates should remain fairly low,” says the team. They add that while Chinese policy-makers have begun to address credit issues, significant imbalances still need to be worked off and capital market system development and reforms still need to be implemented more fully -

Of mice and men and bailouts

Wednesday, 25 July 2012
Of mice and men and bailouts With the sovereign debt crisis still in full swing it is becoming a moot point as to where you should place your money. Popular reflection throws up the usual suspects, gold, bunds, gilts, US T-bonds and so on, but one does begin to wonder whether this accepted order of security is actually right. We have seen haircuts taken on quite a bit of sovereign debt. However, were not for central banks still accepting such debt as collateral, the yields on certain national issuance would be considerably higher than they are at right now. Simon Denham, managing director of spread betting firm, Capital Spreads gives the bearish view. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

With the sovereign debt crisis still in full swing it is becoming a moot point as to where you should place your money. Popular reflection throws up the usual suspects, gold, bunds, gilts, US T-bonds and so on, but one does begin to wonder whether this accepted order of security is actually right. We have seen haircuts taken on quite a bit of sovereign debt. However, were not for central banks still accepting such debt as collateral, the yields on certain national issuance would be considerably higher than they are at right now. Simon Denham, managing director of spread betting firm, Capital Spreads gives the bearish view.

Simon DenhamSimon Denham, managing director of spread betting firm Capital Spreads. Photograph kindly supplied by Capital Spreads.We have the curious situation of New Spanish issuance being bought by Spanish banks then repoed at favorable rates back into the ECB as collateral against debt taken out for this very purpose. The politicians have now agreed bailouts for the banks (but not for Spain itself) in the full knowledge that most of such bailout monies will be used for exactly the purposes described above.

The question must be: how much more will northern Europe tolerate? As times get tougher in Greece, Spain and Italy more of the little business still being done is actually flowing into the black market, exacerbating already critical deficit problems. 



Forcing through stern excise adherence needs to be done when times are good not when many businesses are struggling for survival. This actually is the knub of the problem of the eurozone since its inception; Southern States previously accepted a generally deteriorating currency in exchange for a certain laxness in fiscal responsibility. Other the other hand, the much bigger North (economically) certainly did not.

When the good times rolled all the politicians basked in the supposed genius of the new bloc studiously ignoring all of the ever more strident warnings of productivity dislocation and failing dismally to impose any form of regional spending controls. The saying ‘your sins will find you out’ could hardly be more apposite in this situation as Germany and France (who were amongst the first to break the piously agreed deficit limitations back in 2003) are now requiring just such a response from the weaker members.

Where then, does this leave equities?

Well, oddly enough there is an argument to say that corporate assets might well become the safe haven investment of the future. The ability to move companies from one jurisdiction to another if the regulatory/tax burdens becomes too extreme, the general fiscal responsibility of the vast majority of executive boards, their generally low debt position and the high profit margins lead one to consider that equities and corporate bonds are a rather safer home than ­sovereign debt (of whichever nation).  

The major advantage of a sovereign nation has always been the accepted lore of their ability to raise taxes no matter what the economic situation. Even so, as we see from Spain and Italy’s recent tax receipt numbers—and even the UK over the past few months—this accepted truism may be starting to wear thin.  People in general continue to lose any respect for their government’s ability to spend wisely. If then the average German, Finn or Dutchman decides that bailing out Southern Europe is not his responsibility and we effectively move towards a Greek position on paying tax, or voting for parties that espouse a more isolationist policy, the general deficit situation may well ­deteriorate exponentially.

All the while, returns on equities look to be attractive in the current interest rate environment. The FTSE 100 yield is over 4% as is the Stoxx 50 and the dividend adjusted price versus the cost of acquisition is now at historically high levels. Obviously, dividends might well be lowered over the coming years as growth looks more remote, but interest rates are likely to remain sub 1% as well, so even a reduction in payments might not be accompanied by a fall in price. Returns on stocks have remained remarkably stable despite the current political brouhaha. However, this might be the time that this ‘value’ was reappraised upwards to reflect falling returns elsewhere. 

For all of the truly awful news of the last six to twelve months the FTSE is still pretty much where it was this time last year. It might not take much in the way of good news to send us higher. Of course, this said, we do still need the politicians to make at least a couple of good choices!

As ever ladies and gentlemen, place your bets! 

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