Post-Brexit sterling slump hits airline group IAG, Pearson revenues down, post-Brexit gloom at Foxtons. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by City Editor Jonathan Guthrie, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here.
This is a guest post from Richard Koo, chief economist of the Nomura Research Institute and, amongst many other things, author of “The Holy Grail of Macroeconomics, Lessons from Japan’s Great Recession”, which lays out his balance sheet recession thesis in detail. The post is an updated extract from his most recent note for Nomura and reproduced here, with his permission, for your arguing pleasure… The US, the UK, Japan, and Europe all implemented quantitative easing (QE) policies, but the understanding of how those policies work apparently differs greatly from country to country, leading to very different outcomes. With the US economy doing better than the rest, there has been some debate in Europe as to why that is the case.
Until relatively recently, academics and Western policymakers overwhelmingly supported the official position of the European Union. Nowadays we live in a world where the head of the International Monetary Fund — who also happens to be the former Finance and Economy Minister of France — publicly says the “inherent volatility” of cross-border capital movements is a problem.
This crisis originated in North America. Many of our financial sector were contaminated by… how can I put it… unorthodox practice from some sectors of the financial market. But we are not putting the blame on our partners… Frankly, we are not coming here to receive lessons in terms of democracy… we are certainly not coming here to receive lessons from nobody. – José Manuel Barroso, then President of the European Commission, speaking at the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico in 2012, at the height of the eurozone debt crisis.
Italian banks are a problem. Post-Brexit they’re a serious problem. A full recap of said banking sector and its estimated €200bn of gross non-performing loans would, according to JPM, “require up to €40 billion (less than 2.5% of GDP)”. Manageable, say JPM again, “given the current Italian fiscal position and sovereign cost of funding.” Only problem is…
Wholesaler Booker has seen like-for-like sales slip 2.9 per cent in the first quarter. This is mostly due to tobacco sales falling 7.7 per cent following a ban on small stores displaying packs of gaspers. A 0.7 per cent drop in sales of non-tobacco products reflects deflationary pressure in the retailing industry. Other data released today reflects the gloomy mood in the run up to the Brexit vote. New car registrations fell slightly last month, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. The British Retail Consortium reports that shop prices in early June were down 2 per cent.
Fresh from the inbox, first from Goldman: We expect the BoE to implement policy actions aimed at maintaining market functioning (in difficult circumstances), by activating swap lines with other major central banks and by announcing additional liquidity operations, including the provision of term funding for UK banks.
The replacement of market funding with increasingly concessional loans from the “official sector” may have reduced the Greek government’s balance sheet debt by as much as €200bn, yet the headline numbers haven’t captured any of this alleged gain. In our previous post we looked at whether this was reasonable, focusing on several sets of accounting guidelines to see how they might apply to Greek sovereign obligations: International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), the European System of Accounts (ESA 2010), and Eurostat’s Manual on Government Deficit and Debt (MGDD).
Ashtead and Crest Nicholson have built some strong profits from the construction sector, Premier Farnell has agreed to a £615m Swiss takeover. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by City Editor Jonathan Guthrie, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here.
We’ve raised the possibility Greece’s sovereign debt burden is far lower than the headline figures — and the potential significance of this — in previous posts. Now it’s time to dig in. (The idea was brought to our attention by Paul Kazarian, whose Japonica Partners has a position in Greek government bonds and would stand to profit from a compression in risk premiums. His interest in the outcome doesn’t necessarily mean he’s wrong.)
After years of failed attempts to stabilise the Greek economy, the Greek government finally got debt relief in 2012. As we explained in our previous post, interest payments fell by more than half between 2011 and 2013. Since the 2012 modifications, Greece’s sovereign debt service costs have been significantly smaller as a share of total output than in Italy or Portugal. Yet it hasn’t helped much. The economy continues to contract and Greece’s depression since 2008 is among the absolute worst of any country in the world since 1980. Investment spending had already plunged by 60 per cent in real terms between the peak in 2007 and the end of 2011. Since then, it’s dropped another 13 per cent. Overall, Greece has had no economic growth since the beginning of 2013: Part of the reason: the debt modifications failed to convince private investors to return to Greece, despite having “solved” the problem of government debt service costs.
M&S full-year profits are down 18 per cent, Dixons Carphone has raised its guidance, Royal Mail has avoided new price controls. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by City Editor Jonathan Guthrie, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here.
Time is a flat circle, which is why the Greek government is set to run out of money before debt payments are due to the European Central Bank in July — just like last year, and despite last summer’s supposed deal between the Greek government and its various “official sector” creditors. As before, the immediate cause of this latest crisis is the persistence of disagreements about the size of the budget surpluses (excluding interest) the Greek government is expected to generate, the specific “reforms” the government needs to implement, and the need for debt relief. The fundamental cause, however, is that the Greek government can’t raise money from the private sector at reasonable rates. Why?
Last summer, after watching one of the Republican debates when Donald Trump’s fondness for corporate bankruptcy protection came up as a topic, I saw an immediate link to one of my favourite subjects, and tweeted this.
Every little sales increase helps Tesco, which is back in the black; McCormick has dropped its bid for Premier Foods; the FCA wants to shake up the IPO process. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by City Editor Jonathan Guthrie, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here.
Ben Bernanke first gained the catchy but unfortunate nickname “Helicopter Ben” when he gave a speech in 2002 endorsing Milton Friedman’s idea of a metaphorical helicopter drop of money as an extreme but effective way of combating deflation – a moniker that haunted him when he introduced a $4tn quantitative easing programme at the Federal Reserve. But in his latest blogpost at Brookings he has cautiously endorsed the concept again. While careful not to step on current Fed chair Janet Yellen’s toes by suggesting at all that this is a likely course of action – and the US economy is doing fairly well, if unspectacularly – he now writes that it shouldn’t be ignored as a policy tool:
Back when the Basel III regulations were being debated in the wake of the crisis, it was common to hear dire warnings that rules limiting how much banks can borrow would constrict lending and lower real output. Even some who ostensibly support higher equity capital requirements think there are “trade-offs” between a safer financial system and economic growth. New research from Leonardo Gambacorta and Hyun Song Shin of the Bank for International Settlements suggests this thinking is backwards: “both the macro objective of unlocking bank lending and the supervisory objective of sound banks are better served when bank equity is high.”
So you thought bearer securities weren’t a thing any more. And that jurisdictions left, right and centre were banning the bearer structure (much depended on in the past by the eurobond markets) precisely because of its association with tax-efficient offshore dealings. Except, as we outlined on Monday, one of the things revealed by the Panama Paper leaks is the extent to which bearer securities were depended upon by the offshore finance network. And yet, as we also noted, it’s not like bearer securities have entirely gone away either. We referenced as an example the Bank of England’s series of $2bn dollar-denominated bearer bonds paying a coupon of 1.25 per cent, which take the form of the so-called “New Global Note (NGN)” structure.
You may have come across this story about Barclays partnering up with a “Goldman-backed” bitcoin payments app called Circle International Financial, which uses bitcoin to transfer central bank currencies as digital money increasingly moves into mainstream finance, and thought “wow” that sounds innovative and exciting. But is it? Is it really all that innovative? Let’s break down some of the key claims being made.
Nick Rowe is the latest to try and define a helicopter drop. Cutting through the faff, it comes down to the idea that helicopter money is permanent. Which is problematic since we’ve recently been told nothing is permanent and have basically bought that argument. So, yeah, how are we going to know a helicopter drop when we see it? Take this for example:
The prime minister needs to show his mettle on British steel, Tui has a sunny view of summer bookings, AO World has beaten expectations. FT Opening Quote, with commentary by City Editor Jonathan Guthrie, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here.