David Fuller and Eoin Treacy's Comment of the Day
Category - General

    Chinese Companies Say They Can't Afford to Pay Workers Now

    This article by Lulu Yilun Chen and Jinshan Hong for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    “A week of unpaid leave is very painful,” said Jason Lam, 32, who was furloughed from his job as a chef in a high-end restaurant in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood. “I don’t have enough income to cover my spending this month.”

    Across China, companies are telling workers that there’s no money for them -- or that they shouldn’t have to pay full salaries to quarantined employees who don’t come to work. It’s too soon to say how many people have lost wages as a result of the outbreak, but in a survey of more than 9,500 workers by Chinese recruitment website Zhaopin, more than one-third said they were aware it was a possibility.

    The salary freezes are further evidence of the economic hit to China’s volatile private sector -- the fastest growing part of the world’s second-biggest economy -- and among small firms especially. It also suggests the stress will extend beyond the health risks to the financial pain that comes with job cuts and salary instability. Unsurprisingly, hiring has all but ground to a halt: Zhaopin estimates the number of job resumes submitted in the first week after the January outbreak was down 83% from a year earlier.

    “The coronavirus may hit Chinese consumption harder than SARS 17 years ago,” said Chang Shu, Chief Asia Economist for Bloomberg Intelligence. “And SARS walloped consumption.”

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    Interview with Ronald Stoferle

    Thanks to a subscriber for this interview from Claudio Grass’ website may be of interest. Here is a section:

    The massive policy U-turn by the Fed certainly played a part, and so did the move by the ECB to resume its own easing policies and monthly asset buying spree. We have officially returned to loose monetary policies across the board, and not only did this provide a boost to precious metals until now, but I also think it will persist into 2020, along with balance sheet expansion. I think another important factor was the renewed interest in gold by institutional players, as demand from that side of the market also picked up significantly.

    Nevertheless, let us not forget that what we’ve seen over the past few months is just a gold breakout in USD terms. It is, of course, very noteworthy, but it is important to remember that gold has already been in a bull market in other currencies for quite some time. This bull market has started much earlier, but went mostly unnoticed, because everybody is just staring at the USD price of gold. All the while, in EUR, AUD, CAD terms, gold has been trading at or near all-time highs.

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    Tesla Cybertruck Pre-Orders Unofficially Top 500,000

    This article by Tony Owusu for TheStreet may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    Tesla (TSLA) - Get Report was roundly criticized when it debuted the Cybertruck back in November thanks to the pickup truck's unconventional design and a failed durability test that left the demonstration vehicle with a cracked window.

    But three months later, the company’s gamble on the vehicle could be paying off as the unofficial Cybertrucks Owners Club released numbers suggesting the vehicle has received 522,764 preorders in just three months.

    The group also compared Cybertruck preorders to Model 3 preorders, saying the Model 3 only received around 518,000 total reservations between its unveiling in April 2016 and August 2017.

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    BHP Sees Next Six Weeks as Key For Virus Hit to Commodities

    This article by David Stringer for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    If the impact of the outbreak can’t be contained this quarter, annual growth forecasts will need to be revised down, Huw McKay, BHP’s vice president of market analysis and economics, said Tuesday in a blog post. “This would then flow directly through to lower commodity demand and price expectations.”

    BHP forecasts China’s growth to slow to about 6% this year and as low as 5.75% in 2021 based on a swift recovery from the virus outbreak. In a worst-case scenario that combined a lingering impact from the virus and a re-escalation of trade war tensions, the nation’s economic expansion this year could slip to 5.5%, the miner said.

    Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Macquarie Group Ltd. are among banks who’ve cut China growth forecasts for both the first quarter and the full year as a result of the outbreak. China’s gross domestic product will grow 4% in the first quarter, according to the median of 18 forecasts since Jan. 31, which would be the lowest level since 1990.

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    Email of the day on palladium's acceleration

    I hope you are well. What on earth is going on with Palladium? It goes higher every day but yet surely it is correlated to industrial activity which should be going down with the CV? Please could you elaborate. Many thanks,

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    China's Coffers Are Depleted Just as Virus Spurs Spending

    This article from Bloomberg news may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    China’s top leaders have kept their official deficit target below 3%, partly through belt-tightening, as a gesture to deter excessive borrowing as the nation fights debt on multiple fronts. Yet it has also given way to all types of off-balance sheet borrowing, a problem S&P Global Ratings said may re-emerge this year.

    Signs of more proactive fiscal policy have already appeared. The Ministry of Finance allowed local governments to sell more than 1.8 trillion yuan ($258 billion) of debt before the annual budget has been approved. The ministry has also announced targeted tax cuts to help companies and households hit by the virus, partially waived social security premiums or delayed taxes.

    “Fiscal policy ought to be counter-cyclical, and the tension between revenue and expenditure shouldn’t be a reason to constrain it,” said Xu Gao, chief economist at BOCI Securities Ltd. in Beijing. “The government should increase the fiscal deficit to cope with the virus, and ease spending pressure by selling more debt.”


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    U.K. Fires Broadside at EU Before Future-Ties Talks Even Begin

    This article by Ian Wishart for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

    The EU says any agreement hinges on the U.K. signing up to commitments to prevent it undercutting the European economy. But  the U.K. says sticking to the EU’s rules -- known as the “level
    playing field” because it would force Britain to accept EU standards in areas such as public subsidies, environmental rules, and labor conditions -- is unfair and goes beyond the conditions the EU imposed in other trade deals.

    “It is central to our vision that we must have the ability to set laws that suit us -- to claim the right that every other non-EU country in the world has,” Frost said. “To think that we might accept EU supervision on so called level playing field issues simply fails to see the point of what we are doing. It isn’t a simple negotiating position which might move under pressure -- it is the point of the whole project.”

    Under Johnson, the U.K. is taking a less conciliatory approach to its EU negotiations than under his predecessor Theresa May. Frost’s outlining of Britain’s strategy in public contrasts sharply with the secretive way the government conducted talks from 2017-2019 on the country’s withdrawal.

    The EU is still concluding its own position on the negotiations, with a series of internal discussions by diplomats scheduled to end on Wednesday. The bloc is considering demanding the U.K. stick to EU rules -- and, in some cases, make them tougher if the EU does -- in a whole host of areas from food hygiene to data protection to labor law.

    In a signal of where a compromise might eventually come, Frost said the U.K wants “open and fair competition provisions” based on precedents in other free trade deals.

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