The (early) Lunch Wrap | FT Alphaville

The (early) Lunch Wrap

Good morning New York,

FT ALPHAVILLE

A new good called ‘security’: Izzy summarises the evolving debate on negative real interest rates, safe assets and secular stagnation.

Piketty previews Piketty: Cardiff previews the new book by Thomas Picketty in which he argues that wealth inequality is a function of the difference between the rate of return to capital (after taxes) and the economic growth rate.

The declining correlation between energy and non-energy inflation: Cardiff notes the relationship seems to be breaking down, either because the economy is much less energy intensive than it used to be or because inflation expectations are lower and better anchored than, say, the 1970s “wage-price” spiral era.

Kuroding confidence: David refers to research that suggests the BoJ is failing to properly influence market expectations as it “has failed to provide a concrete and credible explanation of the transmission mechanism by which a doubling of the monetary base might be sufficient to achieve sustainable +2% inflation within a two-year period.”

NEWS

UK inflation falls to four-year low of 2.1%: The reading is the lowest since November 2009, which was the last time inflation was below the Bank of England’s target rate of 2 per cent. (Financial Times)

Russia signalled on Monday that it was ready to offer loans to help bail out Ukraine’s struggling economy, as the two countries’ presidents prepared for talks. Senior Ukrainian officials said talks had been under way with Moscow on loans of at least $10bn, in return for asset sales to Russia, in a move that could intensify the geopolitical tug of war between Moscow and the EU for influence over Ukraine. (Financial Times)

Debenhams demands Christmas discount from suppliers: Debenhams has angered a number of its suppliers after demanding a 2.5 per cent discount on goods and a “single sum contribution” just eight days before Christmas Day. The department store sent an email to suppliers on Monday evening demanding the 2.5 per cent discount as well as a one-off fee amounting to 2.5 per cent of all outstanding sales. (Financial Times)

Banks sell novel package of obscure trade finance assets: Citigroup and Santander have sold $1bn of trade finance assets in a securitisation designed to pave the way for more obscure assets to move from bank balance sheets to institutional investors. (Financial Times)

Zions bank becomes early Volcker casualty: One of the first casualties of the Volcker rule is a small Utah-based bank that is far from the large Wall Street institutions that regulators had sought to rein in. Zions Bancorp said on Monday it would no longer be able to hold certain types of securitised debt as it seeks to comply with the Volcker rule, raising concerns about the cost of the new regulations to smaller banks. (Financial Times) (WSJ)

“The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is moving to force overseas financial firms to comply with certain U.S. rules… The CFTC is preparing to say that multiple rules developed by the European Union and five other jurisdictions governing so-called swaps aren’t strict enough, clearing the way for the CFTC to impose its regulations on much of the $693 trillion global swaps market, the official said.” (WSJ)

China energy corruption probe widens: The chief accountant for China National Petroleum Corp has been “taken into custody to assist in an investigation” into high-level corruption, in an apparent widening of a probe into Asia’s largest energy company. (Financial Times)

Australia reveals deepening budget shortfall: Just three months in power, Australia’s Liberal National government has abandoned all thought of returning to a budget surplus and predicted deficits for the next decade without spending cuts, heralding sober times ahead for the resource-rich country. (Reuters)

Markets: Markets were mixed and a sense of caution prevailed as investors waited to see if the Federal Reserve this week would start reducing its stimulus. The FTSE All-World equity index was flat as the FTSE Eurofirst 300 gave back some of Monday’s 1.3 per cent advance, dipping 0.5 per cent, and after its Asia-Pacific peer rallied 0.4 per cent off a three-month low. The more upbeat tone in Asia reflected optimism over the global economy – following news of racier US industrial production and a rise in eurozone business activity – and Wall Street’s strong showing on Monday. US index futures suggested the S&P 500 would pretty much hold its 0.6 per cent gain at the start of the week, which took the benchmark to 1,786, just 22 points shy of its record high, hit this month. The dollar index was up fractionally as the euro and sterling fluttered about the session flatline at $1.3766 and $1.6290 respectively. The yen was also little changed at Y102.99 per dollar. Industrial commodities were struggling for traction. Brent crude was down 79 cents to $108.62 a barrel and copper was flat at $3.38 a pound. In precious metals, gold was slipping $3 to $1,237 an ounce.