Wednesday, May 4, 2016

China's total debt has increased to a record level of 237% of the GDP in the first quarter of 2016, far exceeding the level reached by other emerging countries, which increases the risk of a financial crisis or of the extended slowdown of the country's economy, according to the warnings launched by analysts. British publication Financial Times (FT) writes that Beijing has resorted to major loans to boost its economic growth, feeding the net debt, which reached 163,000 billion Yuan (25,000 billion dollars) at the end of March. The amount also includes internal borrowing, as well as the foreign ones.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The US Federal Reserve has warned that the world is awash with excess oil and starting to run out of places to store the glut, with no sustained recovery in sight for the oil industry until 2017 at the earliest.  Robert Kaplan, head of the Dallas Fed, poured cold water over talk of a fresh oil boom this year and said the US shale industry has taken far longer to cut output than many expected.
“As we sit here today, Dallas Fed economists estimate that global daily oil production exceeds daily consumption by more than 1m barrels per day,” he told the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum in London.  “Excess inventories in the OECD member countries now stand at approximately 440m barrels. This is a record level and has raised concerns about whether there is sufficient storage capacity in certain geographic areas,” he said.T

Saturday, April 30, 2016

CARACAS, April 26 (Reuters) - Venezuela's socialist government ordered public workers on Tuesday to work a two-day week as an energy-saving measure in the crisis-hit South American OPEC country.  President Nicolas Maduro had already given most of Venezuela's 2.8 million state employees Fridays off during April and May to cut down on electricity consumption. "From tomorrow, for at least two weeks, we are going to have Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays as non-working days for the public sector," Maduro said on his weekly television program.  Drought has reduced water levels at Venezuela's main dam and hydroelectric plant in Guri to near-critical levels. The dam provides for about two-thirds of the nation's energy needs.  Water shortages and electricity cuts have added to the hardships of Venezuela's 30 million people, already enduring a brutal recession, shortages of basics from milk to medicines, soaring prices, and long lines at shops. Maduro has also changed the clocks so there is half an hour more daylight in the evening, urged women to reduce use of appliances like hairdryers, and ordered malls to provide their own generators.  Regarding the public sector measure, the government is excluding workers in sensitive sectors such as food.  Full salaries will still be paid despite the two-day week.  Critics have derided Maduro for giving state employees days off, arguing it would hurt national productivity and was unlikely to save electricity because people would simply go home and turn on appliances there instead.  "Maduro says that 'we in government don't stop working for a second'. Of course. Except for Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays!" satirized Leonardo Padron, a columnist for pro-opposition El Nacional newspaper, via Twitter. Officials said the El Nino weather phenomenon is responsible for Venezuela's electricity woes. But critics accuse the government of inadequate investment, corruption, inefficiency and failure to diversify energy sources.

Friday, April 29, 2016

  The European Central Bank (ECB) pursues its mandate and defends its independence, according to statements of the president of the institution, Mario Draghi, who responded yesterday, to some criticisms coming from several German officials concerning the lax monetary policy of the ECB.
Draghi yesterday said, in a press conference: "We have the mandate of ensuring price stability for the entire Eurozone, not just for Germany. We obey the law, not politicians, because we are independent, as stipulated by the law". Over the last few weeks, several German politicians have criticized the ultralax monetary policy adopted by the ECB, which cut the policy rate to zero in March. The officials in Berlin are saying that this measure affects those Germans who save money. (A.V.)  Mario Draghi said that the ECB is ready "to use all the available instruments" to stimulate the rise of prices in the Eurozone, but expressed his confidence in the effects of the measures passed by the bank so far.   "Our policies work, they are efficient", said Draghi, and he added: "It just takes time for those measures to produce their effects in full". The president of the ECB also stressed that aggressive measures, the kind of "money thrown from helicopters", has not even been brought up in this week's meeting of the council of governors.   Yesterday, the ECB decided not to change the interest rate, after it cut it to a historic low in its March meeting, in an attempt to boost inflation.  The ECB kept the policy rate at zero, while the interest on the marginal lending facility was kept at 0.25%, and the interest rate on deposits was kept at - -0.40%.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Greece's lenders, especially the IMF, want the Greek parliament to adopt a €3.6 billion package of austerity measures that would be implemented only if Greece missed its primary surplus target for 2018, set at 3.5 percent of GDP by the bailout memorandum signed last year.
The primary surplus is the budget surplus before the state has to repay interests on its debt.
The Greek government, which said legislating in advance was unconstitutional, has proposed to commit to take measures in the future if fiscal data approved by Eurostat show that the target will be missed. A more political argument is that the quartet's request for a contingency package goes beyond what was agreed by eurozone leaders last July and then written down in the bailout memorandum of understanding signed in August.  That is why Tsipras, who always said he would do "nothing more and nothing less" than what was agreed last summer, is trying to push the discussion back to the highest political level.  A eurozone summit is however unlikely, as EU leaders have been willing to let their finance ministers deal with the Greek crisis. The leaders took over the talks last year only when a Greek exit from the eurozone became a real danger.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Morgan Stanley, Nomura, and Societe Generale have all issued cautionary notes just as amateur investors belatedly turn bullish again on China and start to pile into both commodities and emerging market equities.  "While the mini-recovery is likely to last another 3-4 months, our economists expect a renewed slowdown in the second half of the year, as stimulus efforts fade," said Morgan Stanley. The US bank said record credit growth over the last quarter will keep growth humming for a little longer but the fiscal blitz is already ebbing and the government is imposing property curbs in the Eastern cities to prevent a speculative bubble.  China's reflation drive has been explosive. New home sales jumped 64pc in March from a year earlier. House prices have risen 28pc in Beijing, 30pc in Shanghai, and 63pc in the commercial hub of Shenzhen. The rush to buy has spread to the Tier 2 cities such as Hefei - up 9pc in a single month.  "The housing market is on fire," said Wei Yao, from Societe Generale. "In the first quarter, increases in total credit exploded to 7.5 trilion yuan, up 58pc year-on-year. There is no bigger policy lever than this kind of credit injection."  "This looks like an old-styled credit-backed investment-driven recovery, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the beginning of the“four trillion stimulus” package in 2009. The consequence of that stimulus was inflation, asset bubbles and excess capacity. We still think that this recovery will not last very long," she said.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The biggest Italian banks, insurers and asset managers in the country, have accepted, on Monday night, to create a five billion Euros fund meant to help troubed banks, to allay investor fears over the stability of the local banking sector. The fund, called "Atlas", will benefit from major capital injections from "UniCredit" and "Intesa Sanpaolo", the top two largest banks. According to sources quoted by Reuters, "UniCredit" and "Intesa Sanpaolo" will each contribute one billion Euros to that fund. The sources are also saying that state owned bank CDP will contribute 500 million Euros, smaller banks will allocate between 500 and 700 million Euros, banking foundations will contribute approximately 520 million Euros, and insurers - another 500 - 700 million Euros.  In exchange for the financing offered by private banks, the Italian government has accepted to revise its bankruptcy legislation, in order to facilitate the sale of non-performing loans. Italian PM Matteo Renzi said: "In the coming days we will make the bankruptcy procedure simpler and quicker, so that all the parties involved recoup their money within a reasonable delay".  Currently, in Italy it takes about eight years on average to recoup non-performing loans, compared to approximately two years in the EU. The Italian banking system is facing non-performing loans of approximately 360 billion Euros, one third of the total volume in the Eurozone. The "Atlas" fund will allow supporting "Banca Popolare di Vicenza" and "Veneto Banca", financial institutions that have to raise almost 3 billion Euros in the coming weeks, to consolidate their capital. The fund may invest two billion Euros in the future stock issues of "Banca Popolare di Vicenza" and "Veneto Banca", and may even acquire one of these banks.  The European Commission has informed that it is keeping in touch with the government in Rome on the creation of the fund intended to support banks.