China Power Crunch Hits GDP Growth

SHANGHAI — China’s economic growth continued to decelerate in the third quarter, as gross domestic product came in at 4.9%, softened by the country’s zero-tolerance COVID measures and energy shortages.

The year-on-year GDP growth rate, published on Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics for the three-month period through September, was below the median 5% expansion forecast by 29 economists in a Nikkei poll released earlier this month.

The figure slid from 7.9% for the April-to-June quarter, weighed down by high commodity prices amid uncertainty kindled by the China Evergrande Group’s debt crisis, which is piling risk onto the property and banking sectors.

The reading also reflects weak overall activity, including in manufacturing and consumer spending. Retail sales of consumer goods, a barometer of household spending, edged up by 4.4% in September, compared to 2.5% in August, but was still well below the double-digit growth that had continued till June.

Certain factors have persuaded economists to be cautious, at least for the near term. Rising coal prices are hitting the profitability of electricity providers, making the utilities reluctant to generate power. As it prioritizes supplying power to sectors that touch everyday life, the government is capping supplies to the steel, cement and other energy-intensive industries. The result has been less production and more inflation.

The statistics office last week announced that the producer price index for manufactured goods in September rose by 10.7% from a year earlier, the strongest surge in the past 25 years, as far back as comparable data goes.

The government forecasts China’s economy to grow 6% for all of 2021, the International Monetary Fund projects 8% and the Asian Development Bank 8.1%.

The economy expanded 9.8% in the first nine months of the year, largely driven by trade as both exports and imports jumped nearly 23% in yuan terms.

Service sector growth of 19.3%, led by software and information technology services, also stoked the nine-month expansion.

The statistics office said GDP grew 0.2% in the third quarter from the previous three months, which the U.K.’s Capital Economics noted is the second lowest since China began revealing such data in 2010.

Growth lost more steam in September as industrial production slid to 3.1% from 5.3% in August, while the official manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 49.6. It slipped below 50 — which the statistics office says “reflects the overall economy is in recession” — for the first time since February 2020.

Meanwhile, officials have been playing down the country’s power crunch and worries over the Evergrande crisis.

“The energy supply shortage is temporary, and its impact on the economy is controllable,” Fu Lingxuan, the National Bureau of Statistics’ spokesperson told reporters on Monday, citing recent measures to boost coal supply.

Zou Lan, head of financial markets at the country’s central bank, said Evergrande had “blindly diversified and expanded business,” urging the property group to offload assets to raise funds to pay off debts.

“The risk exposure of individual financial institutions to Evergrande is not big and the spillover effect for the financial sector is controllable,” Zou said on Friday.

While fallout from the power shortages and concerns over the property market may have eased from September, their impact on China’s broader economy should not be underestimated and will be a major downside risk in the fourth quarter, warned Shanghai-based Yue Su, principal economist at The Economist Intelligence Unit.

“The slowdown in the property sector will affect the activities of firms in areas such as construction contracting, building materials and home furnishing,” said Su, adding that energy-intensive industries will face rising costs as well.

Hong Kong-based Tommy Wu of Oxford Economics said policymakers are likely to take more steps to shore up growth, including ensuring ample liquidity in the interbank market, accelerating infrastructure development and relaxing some aspects of overall credit and real estate policies.

And not all economists agree with China’s official data.

Julian Evans-Pritchard of U.K.-based Capital Economics said the research firm’s in-house measure, the China Activity Proxy, tracked a sharp 3.9% quarter-on-quarter contraction in the third quarter, compared to a 3.0% expansion in the previous quarter.

“For now, the blow from the deepening property downturn is being softened by very strong exports,” said Evans-Pritchard. “But over the coming year, foreign demand is likely to drop back as global consumption patterns normalize coming out of the pandemic and backlogs of orders are gradually cleared.”

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped as much as 0.92% on Monday morning, before closing for the midday break down 0.35%.

By:

Source: China power crunch hits GDP growth – Nikkei Asia

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Economy Week Ahead: Inflation, Jobless Claims, Retail Sales

The outlook for the global economy darkened as a stream of data from Europe and Asia suggested growth faltered in the third quarter, hobbled by world-wide supply-chain snarls, sharply accelerating inflation and the impact of the highly contagious Delta variant.

U.S. inflation accelerated last month and remained at its highest rate in over a decade, with price increases from pandemic-related labor and materials shortages rippling through the economy from a year earlier.

The Labor Department said last month’s consumer-price index, which measures what consumers pay for goods and services, rose by 5.4%

The gap between yields on shorter- and longer-term Treasury’s narrowed Wednesday after data showed inflation accelerated slightly in September, fueled by investors’ bets that the Federal Reserve may need to tighten monetary policy sooner than expected. Measures of inflation in China and the U.S. highlight this week’s economic data.

China’s exports, long a growth engine for the country’s economy, are expected to increase 21% from a year earlier in September, according to economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. That is down from a 25.6% gain in August. Meanwhile, inbound shipments are forecast to rise 19.1% from a year earlier, retreating from the 33.1% jump in August.

The International Monetary Fund releases its World Economic Outlook report during annual meetings. The latest forecasts are likely to underscore the relatively quick economic rebound of advanced economies alongside a slower recovery in developing nations with less access to Covid-19 vaccines.

China’s factory-gate prices for September are expected to surge 10.4% from a year earlier, a pace that would surpass its previous peak in 2008, according to economists polled by The Wall Street Journal. Higher commodity costs have led to the rise in producer prices this year, but so far that hasn’t fed through to consumer inflation. Economists forecast the consumer-price index rose only 0.7% from a year earlier in September.

September’s U.S. consumer-price index is expected to show inflation remained elevated as companies passed along higher costs for materials and labor. Rising energy prices likely contributed to the headline CPI, while core prices, which exclude food and energy, might start to reflect climbing shelter costs.

The Federal Reserve releases minutes from its September meeting, potentially offering additional insight on plans to start reducing pandemic-related stimulus.

U.S. jobless claims are forecast to fall for the second consecutive week as employers hold on to workers in a tight labor market. The data on claims, a proxy for layoffs, will cover the week ended Oct. 9.

U.S. retail sales are expected to fall in September. U.S. consumers appear to be in decent financial shape, but Covid-related caution, rising prices and widespread supply-chain disruptions are tamping down purchases. The auto industry has been especially hard hit by a semiconductor shortage—separate data released earlier this month show U.S. vehicle sales in September fell to their lowest level since early in the pandemic.

By: WSJ staff

Source: Economy Week Ahead: Inflation, Jobless Claims, Retail Sales – TechiLive.in

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The World’s Newest Call Center Billionaire

Meet the world’s newest call center billionaire. Laurent Junique is quite the globe-trotter: He’s a French citizen, his company is based in Singapore and he just listed that company, TDCX Inc., on the New York Stock Exchange last week.

Junique, TDCX’s 55-year-old founder and CEO, also just joined the billionaire ranks: Junique’s 87% stake in the firm is now worth $3 billion, thanks to a 34% rise in TDCX shares since the IPO on October 1—an offering that raised nearly $350 million for the company.

Started in 1995 in Singapore as Teledirect, an outsourced call center that handled calls, emails and faxes for a variety of clients, the company rebranded as TDCX in 2019 to reflect its expansion into a range of services including content moderation, marketing and e-commerce support. (CX is short for “customer experience” in the customer service industry.)

TDCX reported a $64 million net profit on $323 million sales in 2020, an improvement from the $54 million profit and $242 million in revenues it recorded in 2019. That growth came in part due to greater use of the services that TDCX offers, including tools that help companies improve the performance of employees working from home. Still, TDCX is highly dependent on two clients—Facebook and Airbnb—which collectively accounted for 62% of sales in 2020.

“Our successful listing reflects the world-class company that we have built and our position as the go-to partner for transformative digital customer experience services,” Junique said in a statement on the day of the IPO. “We are grateful for the support of our clients, many of whom are global technology companies that are fuelling the growth of the digital economy.”

Junique is the second call center billionaire that Forbes has tracked. The first, Kenneth Tuchman, founded Englewood, Colorado-based TTEC Holdings (formerly called TeleTech), in 1982; at nearly $2 billion, the firm had about six times the revenues of TDCX last year. Tuchman first became a billionaire in 2007. Several Indian billionaires, including HCL Technologies cofounder Shiv Nadar and Wipro’s former chairman Azim Premji, offer call centers as some of the services their firms provide.

Junique will maintain an iron grip on TDCX as a public company, controlling all of the firm’s Class B shares, which make up more than 86% of the firm’s equity and represent 98.5% of voting power. He owns those shares through Transformative Investments Pte Ltd, a company based in the Cayman Islands that is entirely owned—according to public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission—by a trust established for the benefit of Junique and his family. While its headquarters are in Singapore, TDCX has also been incorporated in the Cayman Islands since April 2020; prior to the IPO, the firm was controlled by Junique through a Caymans-based holding company. A spokesperson for TDCX declined to comment.

Before launching TDCX as a 29-year-old in 1995, the French native cut his teeth studying advertising at the École Supérieure de Publicité in Paris and business administration at the nearby École Supérieure Internationale d’Administration des Entreprises, graduating in 1989. After a two-year stint at consumer goods giant Unilever, Junique—who had reportedly been cooking up business ideas since he was a child, including a glass recycling proposal he came up with at age 13—decided he wanted a more international career, but struggled to find a gig as a young graduate with little experience.

Armed with a suitcase and just enough cash to get by, he decamped to Singapore in 1995 to try his luck on the other side of the planet. Singapore offered a strategic location as a modern, English-speaking city at the heart of fast-growing Southeast Asia, and Junique started a call center called Teledirect aimed at businesses looking to cut costs and outsource customer service. Soon enough, Junique scored the firm’s first big client, an American credit card firm based in Singapore.

Two years later, in 1997, Junique sold a 40% stake in Teledirect to London-based advertising giant WPP for an undisclosed amount. Since then, TDCX expanded beyond call centers and now has offices in 11 countries across three continents, including locations in China, Japan and India. In 2018, Junique bought back WPP’s 40% stake in the call center business for about $28 million. Three years of growth later, the company now has a market capitalization of $3.5 billion.

With 2020 marking a record year for TDCX, Junique is hoping that the Covid-induced transition away from offices has made the firm’s products more necessary for its clients. “As consumers live more and more of their lives online, the expectation for things to be done simply, conveniently and on-demand will only increase,” Junique said in a statement.

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I’m a Staff Writer on the Wealth team at Forbes, covering billionaires and their wealth. My reporting has led me to an S&P 500 tech firm in the plains of Oklahoma; a

Source: The World’s Newest Call Center Billionaire

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Corporate Taxes Poised to Rise After 136-Country Deal

 
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Nearly 140 countries agreed Friday to the most sweeping overhaul of global tax rules in a century, a move that aims to curtail tax avoidance by multinational corporations and raise additional tax revenue of as much as $150 billion annually.

But the accord, which is a decade in the making, now must be implemented by the signatories, a path that is likely to be far from smooth, including in a closely divided U.S. Congress.

The reform sets out a global minimum corporate tax of 15%, targeted at preventing companies from exploiting low-tax jurisdictions.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the floor set by the global minimum tax was a victory for the U.S. and its ability to raise money from companies. She urged Congress to move swiftly to enact the international tax proposals it has been debating, which would help pay for extending the expanded child tax credit and climate-change initiatives, among other policies.

“International tax policy making is a complex issue, but the arcane language of today’s agreement belies how simple and sweeping the stakes are: when this deal is enacted, Americans will find the global economy a much easier place to land a job, earn a living, or scale a business,” Ms. Yellen said.

The agreement among 136 countries also seeks to address the challenges posed by companies, particularly technology giants, that register the intellectual property that drives their profits anywhere in the world. As a result, many of those countries established operations in low-tax countries such as Ireland to reduce their tax bills.

The final deal gained the backing of Ireland, Estonia and Hungary, three members of the European Union that withheld their support for a preliminary agreement in July. But Nigeria, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Pakistan continued to reject the deal.

The new agreement, if implemented, would divide existing tax revenues in a way that favors countries where customers are based. The biggest countries, as well as the low-tax jurisdictions, must implement the agreement in order for it to meaningfully reduce tax avoidance.

Overall, the OECD estimates the new rules could give governments around the world additional revenue of $150 billion annually.

The final deal is expected to receive the backing of leaders from the Group of 20 leading economies when they meet in Rome at the end of this month. Thereafter, the signatories will have to change their national laws and amend international treaties to put the overhaul into practice.

The signatories set 2023 as a target for implementation, which tax experts said was an ambitious goal. And while the agreement would likely survive the failure of a small economy to pass new laws, it would be greatly weakened if a large economy—such as the U.S.—were to fail.

“We are all relying on all the bigger countries being able to move at roughly the same pace together,” said Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. “Were any big economy not to find itself in a position to implement the agreement,  that would matter for the other countries. But that might not become apparent for a while.”

 

Congress’ work on the deal will be divided into two phases. The first, this year, will be to change the minimum tax on U.S. companies’ foreign income that the U.S. approved in 2017. To comply with the agreement, Democrats intend to raise the rate—the House plan calls for 16.6%—and implement it on a country-by-country basis. Democrats can advance this on their own and they are trying to do so as part of President Biden’s broader policy agenda.

The second phase will be trickier, and the timing is less certain. That is where the U.S. would have to agree to the international deal changing the rules for where income is taxed. Many analysts say that would require a treaty, which would need a two-thirds vote in the Senate and thus some support from Republicans. Ms. Yellen has been more circumspect about the schedule and procedural details of the second phase.

Friction between European countries and the U.S. over the taxation of U.S. tech giants has threatened to trigger a trade war.

In long-running talks about new international tax rules, European officials have argued U.S. tech giants should pay more tax in Europe, and they fought for a system that would reallocate taxing rights on some digital products from countries where the product is produced to where it is consumed.

The U.S., however, resisted. A number of European governments introduced their own taxes on digital services. The U.S. then threatened to respond with new tariffs on imports from Europe.

The compromise was to reallocate taxing rights on all big companies that are above a certain profit threshold.

Under the agreement reached Friday, governments pledged not to introduce any new levies and said they would ultimately withdraw any that are in place. But the timetable for doing that has yet to be settled through bilateral discussions between the U.S. and those countries that have introduced the new levies.

Even though they will likely have to pay more tax after the overhaul, technology companies have long backed efforts to secure an international agreement, which they see as a way to avoid a chaotic network of national levies that threatened to tax the same profit multiple times.

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The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which has been guiding the tax talks, estimates that some $125 billion in existing tax revenues would be divided among countries in a new way.

Those new rules would be applied to companies with global turnover of €20 billion (about $23 billion) or more, and with a profit margin of 10% or more. That group is likely to include around 100 companies. Governments have agreed to reallocate the taxing rights to a quarter of the profits of each of those companies above 10%.

The agreement announced Friday specifies that its revenue and profitability thresholds for reallocating taxing rights could also apply to a part of a larger company if that segment is reported in its financial accounts. Such a provision would apply to Amazon.com Inc.’s cloud division, Amazon Web Services, even though Amazon as a whole isn’t profitable enough to qualify because of its low-margin e-commerce business.

The other part of the agreement sets a minimum tax rate of 15% on the profits made by large companies. Smaller companies, with revenues of less than $750 million, are exempted because they don’t typically have international operations and can’t therefore take advantage of the loopholes that big multinational companies have benefited from.

Low-tax countries such as Ireland will see an overall decline in revenues. Developing countries are least happy with the final deal, having pushed for both a higher minimum tax rate and the reallocation of a greater share of the profits of the largest companies.

 
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Bull Markets Usually Don’t End With a Bang

Unlike bear market lows, which tend to be short and sharp, bullish stock market highs tend to occur gradually over time as a sector or investment style first peaks and declines. , then another.

This means that investors should not manage their equity portfolios assuming that there will be a specific day before which it would make sense to be 100% invested and then be in cash. Even if the precise timing of the stock market wasn’t incredibly difficult, it would still make more sense to gradually build up cash as individual positions hit their targets.

Of course, there is no way to know whether the current stock market – which abruptly retreated from record highs in late September, ahead of Friday’s rally to begin October – has entered such a protracted peak process. But the bull market will end someday, if it hasn’t already, and it’s important to review the characteristics of past highs so that you don’t manage your portfolio on the assumption that you will be able to peak in real time.

A recent illustration that not all sectors and styles are reaching their bullish highs at the same time appeared at the top of the internet stock bubble in early 2000. Although the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes did reach their bullish highs in March 2000, value stocks – and small cap value stocks, in particular – continued to rise. The S&P 500 at its October 2002 bear market low was 49% lower than its March 2000 high, and the Nasdaq Composite was 78% lower, but the average value of small-cap stocks was 2% higher than what it was in March 2000, according to data from Dartmouth professor Kenneth French.

Although this is only an example, it is not unique. Consider what I found while analyzing the 30 bull market highs since the mid-1920s that appear in the timeline maintained by Ned Davis Research. In each case, I determined the dates on which various sectors of the market reached their particular bullish highs: the large, mid and small cap sectors, as well as the styles of value, growth and mix, as measured by the market. share price. -accounting reports. On average over the 30 bull market highs, there was a 225-day gap between the first date one of these sectors peaked and the last. It’s been over seven months.

There are exceptions, especially when an external event causes the market to collapse and virtually all sectors fall in unison. The stock market crash of 1987, as well as the declines following the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the pandemic lockdowns of March 2020, are good examples of this. But in most cases, it is more accurate to view a bullish top as a process rather than a one-time event.

Another reason to view market highs as a process is that, the day major stock indices such as the S&P 500 hit their bullish highs, you will have any idea that a bear market is imminent. . Instead, you’ll likely be caught up in the exuberance of the moment. Only with hindsight will it become clear that a bear market was starting.

This exuberance leads investors to be too heavily invested in stocks during the later stages of the bull markets. Believing that the exact day of the peak has not yet been reached, they hold on to their stock positions for too long. Viewing market highs as a process can counterbalance this exuberance, as it causes investors to focus on their individual positions rather than on the market as a monolithic whole.

Many resist this advice because their memories play tricks on them, leading them to believe that it is possible to spot a bullish top the moment it occurs. This is certainly not the case, according to my company’s daily monitoring of advice from stock timers – advisers who tell clients how much of their investment portfolios should be in stocks and cash. Over the past four decades in which the S&P 500 peaked in the bull market, the average level of exposure to equities recommended by these timers was 65.7%. This is a higher level of exposure than 95% of all other days over the past 40 years.

On the days when the S&P 500 hit its lowest bear market level, by contrast, the average exposure level recommended by stock timers was only 5%. Remember October 2007. Even though the S&P 500 was on the verge of entering a 57% 16-month decline, hardly any of the 100 or so stock stopwatches my company monitors were considering anything. the type.

This failure was true even for market timers with the best long-term records entering that month. One of the long-term top performers at the time was telling clients that a bear market was such a distant possibility it wasn’t even on his radar screen. Another went from full investment to 25% margin – borrowing to invest even more in stocks – the day before the exact day of the S&P 500 bull market high.

If these market professionals with good, long-term track records weren’t able to anticipate the onset of one of the most serious bear markets in U.S. history, you’re kidding yourself if you think that you can always do better. You are more likely to be successful by viewing the end of a bull market and the start of a bear market as a process rather than a one-time event.

By: Mark Hulbert

Mr. Hulbert is a columnist whose Hulbert Ratings follows news bulletins about investments that pay a fixed fee to be audited. He can be contacted at reports@wsj.com.

Source: Bull Markets Usually Don’t End With a Bang – WSJ

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Why The World’s Wealthy Have Quietly Moved To Dubai

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This summer, fresh from the West Coast of the U.S., a tech entrepreneur arrived in Dubai. In tow were his family, their family office and a fleet of 30 luxury cars. Everything a billionaire needs to start a new life in Dubai.

“It’s very safe here for my children. L.A. isn’t what it used to be. Crime has risen since Covid,” says the entrepreneur in his mid-50s who did not want to be named.

Finding a house with space for 30 cars was not easy, says Rohal Kohyar, marketing director of Luxhabitat Sotheby’s International Realty. Eventually a villa on its own private estate was identified. It had a basement that could be converted into a giant garage.

Nor was setting up the family office straightforward. Family offices on this scale manage hundreds of millions of dollars in private wealth, a task that requires a team of around 30 specialists.

“We’ve had to increase the salary for an E.A. (executive assistant) position for it to be attractive for people to come back to the U.A.E.,” says Zahra Clark, head of the MENA region for Tiger Recruitment.

During the pandemic many expats left Dubai for home. But with so many wealthy families now relocating to Dubai, recruiters are having to offer big incentives to lure investment professionals back to the Emirate.

Kohyar estimates 20 billionaires have bought property in Dubai this year, and Luxhabitat Sotheby’s International Realty has seen around a 300% increase in business compared with the same period last year.

According to the Dubai Land Department, the volume of property sales in Dubai increased by 136.5% in August compared to the same month last year. Villa sales were up 124% thanks in part to the sale of several Dh 100 million ($27 million) villas in Dubai Hills Grove area. “Normally we do one or two Dh 100 million ($27 million) deals a year. This year we’ve already done nine of them,” says Kohyar.

Real estate booms have come before, but this time is different, says Kohyar. “Now people are buying these luxury properties to actually live in them with their families.”

And they are in a rush, he says. Buyers are not waiting around for developments to be finished off. “They have to be ready now now.” The rich are suddenly in a hurry.

There is something else happening in Dubai that is different: People are coming from further afield. Kohyar says most of his clients are coming from major European countries, like the U.K., Switzerland and Germany. Of the super-rich setting up family offices in Dubai, Clark says most are from the U.S. and U.K. Other recruiters say there is a heightened interest from Singapore and Hong Kong.

Many were impressed with the way Dubai handled the pandemic. Vaccines were rolled out quickly among Dubai’s three million residents, P.C.R. tests are cheap and available, and the country only suffered a brief lockdown in March and April of 2020. “We’re busier now than pre-Covid. This will continue for as long as Europe, U.K. and the U.S. can’t get things right in how they’re dealing with the Covid situation,” says Clark.

But in reality, the pandemic hit Dubai very hard. Thousands of skilled expats started heading home as jobs dried up, the cost of living spiraled and they worried about being stranded abroad.

Dubai’s rulers suddenly realized the fallibility of their economy. Expats brought with them businesses, wealth and entertainment. Without them, Dubai’s own talented or entrepreneurial youth might follow them overseas.

In an effort to reverse this brain drain, the U.A.E. government started offering “golden visas” to high achievers. The 10-year residency visa was created in 2019, but since the beginning of this year it has been handed out to top students, successful entrepreneurs and award-winning actors.

In July, 45 students who scored more than 95% in their exams were granted golden visas. Raghad Muaiyad Asseid Danawi, a 17-year-old Jordanian student studying at Dubai’s Qatr Al Nada School was among them. “This is a great opportunity for me, my parents and siblings,” she told Khaleej Times.

That same month, the U.A.E. made 100,000 golden visas available to computer coders. Having lost out to Europe, and Silicon Valley, Dubai now wants to establish itself as a tech hub and has a target to establish 1,000 major digital companies over the next five years.

Alongside students and computer coders, the U.A.E. has also been handing out golden visas to actors. Yasmin Abdelaziz, a popular Egyptian actress was given a golden visa in July, joining a trio of Lebanese pop-stars-Najwa Karam, Marwan Khoury and Ragheb Alama-who have already been given the visa.

All of this makes Dubai more attractive for the wealthy. For Dh 10 million ($2.7 million) they too can have a golden visa. And, thanks to a new law introduced in February this year, (Decree Law 19), they can bring their family offices with them.

But perhaps the most enticing thing about U.A.E. for the lack of income tax. When other parts of the world, and especially the U.S. and U.K., are mooting wealth taxes to pay for the pandemic, Dubai suddenly looks much more attractive.

And, if they start moving their businesses or family offices here, they are more likely to stick around, says Kohyar: “This surge right now is more on a personal level, it’s more rounded, and we think this is going to be much more sustainable because people are moving here with their families and with their businesses so they’ll definitely stay.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I am a freelance journalist with a decade’s experience covering business stories from around the world. When not reporting, I advise governments, businesses and

Source: https://www.forbes.com/

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“Where Dubai property rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2020”. The National. Retrieved 14 May 2020.

Bank Mergers Are On Track to Hit Their Highest Level Since the Financial Crisis

It took less than three months for a deal to be reached between Columbia Banking System and the smaller Bank of Commerce Holdings. Banks are on pace this year to merge at a level not seen since the 2008 financial crisis. It is a sharp turnaround from last year, when the economy spiraled and many regional and community banks put merger plans on the shelf. Now, bank executives are feeling more certain about what the future holds, but some are finding it hard to make it on their own. Though the economy has in many ways recovered from 2020, loan demand is still low and profits from lending are slim.

Banks have announced more than $54 billion in deals through late September, according to Dealogic. That puts industry mergers and acquisitions on pace for their biggest year since 2008, when some big banks had to sell themselves to stave off collapse. At this time last year, banks had announced just $17 billion in mergers.

Banks typically spend weeks or months turning a potential target’s loan book upside down, searching for risky loans or other red flags, before agreeing to acquire it. But the Covid-19 pandemic muddied that process. For months, lenders struggled to assess the creditworthiness of their own customers, much less those of their competitors.

“Neither potential sellers nor buyers really wanted to do a transaction last year because of the uncertainty that could be on folks’ balance sheets,” said Kevin Riley, chief executive of First Interstate BancSystem Inc. FIBK -0.17% in Billings, Mont.

But the expected wave of loan defaults never materialized, and by the end of last year, serious merger conversations resumed, according to executives and regulatory filings. This month, First Interstate FIBK -0.17% agreed to buy regional lender Great Western Bancorp Inc. in a deal that will boost its assets to more than $32 billion.

“[Banks] are no longer fearful of the bottom falling out,” said Nathan Stovall, an analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence. “They are no longer looking at a deal like trying to catch a falling knife.”2019 was also a big year for bank mergers, but more of the major regionals are in play this year. So while there are fewer deals this year than at this point in 2019, the overall value is higher than it was two years ago.

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp last week said it plans to buy MUFG Union Bank’s core retail-banking operations, boosting its presence on the West Coast. Another major regional, Citizens Financial Group Inc., said in July that it plans to buy Investors Bancorp Inc. Investors Bank had shelved merger talks with another bank when the pandemic hit in 2020, according to regulatory filings.

The Federal Reserve cut interest rates to near zero when the pandemic hit, and low rates have made it more difficult for banks to profit from their bread-and-butter business of lending. The average net interest margin, a measure of lending profitability, reached a record low of 2.5% in the second quarter, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Smaller banks have also struggled to compete with the high-end digital offerings and technology of the megabanks.

Sacramento, Calif.-based Bank of Commerce Holdings began courting potential merger partners in the spring of 2021. The board and management of the $1.9-billion-assets bank had for years considered different options to overcome ever-narrowing industry margins, including being acquired by a larger bank, CEO Randy Eslick said. It took less than three months to iron out a deal with $18 billion Columbia Banking System Inc. of Tacoma, Wash.

The deal was announced in June, and the combined bank will have the resources to invest in technology and other areas—trust departments, wealth management, specialty lending—that the smaller Bank of Commerce wouldn’t have been able to fund on its own.

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“Those types of things bring technology to the table that we could not afford to,” Mr. Eslick said. “At the end of the day, we have more arrows in our quiver.”

The pressure to scale up has only grown more intense in recent years, said Scott Wylie, CEO of the $2 billion First Western Financial Inc. in Denver. In July, First Western said it would buy the parent company of a smaller bank, the nearby Rocky Mountain Bank.

“For a $300- or $500- or $700-million bank, it used to be you could have a nice little business that could go for a long time,” Mr. Wylie said. “These days, that’s really hard.” Conway, Ark.-based Home BancShares Inc. said this month it would buy Happy Bancshares for more than $900 million. Within weeks, CEO John Allison got pitched another deal.

“Someone said to me, ‘Johnny, the body hasn’t even gotten cold yet…and they’re bringing all these other deals,’” Mr. Allison said.

By: Orla McCaffrey at orla.mccaffrey@wsj.com

Source: Bank Mergers Are On Track to Hit Their Highest Level Since the Financial Crisis – WSJ

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East Asia’s Economies Face Slowing Growth and Rising Inequality, World Bank Warns

HONG KONG—Most countries in East Asia face major setbacks in recovering from the coronavirus, the World Bank said, adding to concerns that the resurgent pandemic will widen the economic divide between the region and the Western world.

With the notable exception of China, economic activity across the region has sputtered since the second quarter amid outbreaks of the Delta variant of the coronavirus and relatively slow vaccine rollouts, leading some multilateral institutions to cut growth forecasts for most economies in the region and warn about longer-term problems such as rising inequality.

Overall, the economy of East Asia and the Pacific is on track to expand by 7.5% this year, according to forecasts released Tuesday by the World Bank Group, up from its April forecast of 7.4%. But that improvement is all China, now expected to grow 8.5%, up from 8.1%. The outlook for the rest of the region worsened, with the bank now forecasting growth of just 2.5% this year, down from 4.4% in April.

“The economic recovery of developing East Asia and Pacific faces a reversal of fortune,” said Manuela Ferro, an economist at the Washington, D.C.-based institution. The U.S. economy is expected to outpace the world as a whole by expanding 6% this year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development forecast last week.

In Asia, meanwhile, the pandemic’s persistence threatens to deliver “an impoverishing double whammy of slow growth and increasing inequality,” the World Bank warned, calling it the first time the region has faced such an outlook since the turn of the century. The bank sees 24 million more people below the poverty line in Asia this year than it projected earlier.

Last week, the Manila-based Asia Development Bank cut its growth outlook for developing Asia to 7.1%, from 7.3% in April, in large part because Covid-19 outbreaks led to major lockdowns that slowed manufacturing activity in Southeast Asia, a regional export hub. The ADB now forecasts 3.1% growth this year for Southeast Asia, where countries have struggled to ramp up vaccinations, down from 4.4% previously.

Myanmar, Malaysia and Cambodia are among the countries that have imposed lockdowns and social-distancing rules in recent months as Covid-19 infections surged. That has exacerbated global supply-chain disruptions, delaying production of finished goods from clothes to cars as well as commodities, including coffee and palm oil.

Vaccination rates have picked up in Asia, though they still trail the West. As of the end of August, less than one-third of the region’s population had been fully vaccinated, compared with 52% in the U.S. and 58% in the European Union, according to the ADB.

The World Bank predicts that most Asian countries will push vaccination rates up to 60% by the first half of 2022, which it says will allow for a fuller resumption of economic activity—though it won’t be enough to eliminate infections.

Moreover, Asia’s advantage in the global goods trade—a bright spot for the region for much of the past year—is expected to fade.

Export demand for a range of goods, such as machinery and consumer electronics, has slipped as companies and individuals from richer Western countries shift their spending patterns. Supply capacity in those markets has also started to normalize, while higher shipping costs risk further eroding appetite for imports from Asia.

“Global goods import demand peaked in the second quarter of 2020 and regional exports face stronger competitions as other regions recover,” says the World Bank report.

MARKET TRENDS

We have revised our forecast for China’s 2021 growth from 8.4% to 8.2% to account for recent COVID outbreaks and economic underperformance.,China is experiencing a rash of COVID outbreaks driven by the Delta variant. New cases have emerged in cities across the country, such as Nanjing, Ningbo, and Wuhan.,Several indicators signaled a slowdown in July relative to June: industrial value-added growth fell from 8.8% YOY to 8.3% YOY; retail sales growth slowed from 12.1% YOY to 8.5% YOY; urban unemployment rose from 5.0% to 5.1%.

KEY DEVELOPMENTS

Xi Jinping is shifting the government’s focus away from pursuing growth at any cost toward sharing the fruits of growth more evenly across society. This push is reflected in the rising use of the phrase “common prosperity,” which has started to appear frequently in communications across the government, schools, and media.,While the details behind the “common prosperity” push are not yet clear and policy implementation timelines may be extended, the implications of this shift will be wide-ranging.

In the coming years, China’s leadership will show less forbearance to wealthy individuals and large corporations; instead, it will expect them to support its goals for social equality through measures like direct transfers, donations, program development, and tax changes.,China’s regulatory landscape will also shift in favor of industries that are seen to serve lower-income segments and against those seen to serve higher-income segments. For example, companies serving rural and less developed parts of the country are likely to receive a helping hand, while companies selling luxury items and high-end real estate are likely to face increased barriers in the market.

By: Stella Yifan Xie at stella.xie@wsj.com

Source: East Asia’s Economies Face Slowing Growth and Rising Inequality, World Bank Warns – WSJ

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What Is Really Australia’s Quintex Capital Doing To Your Investment or Assets

Quintex Capital Pty’s innovative platforms and tools provide the power and reliability you need to feel more confident in your investment, trading and loan access.

Quintex Capital Pty is an investment Company, located at WEST PERTH 6005 Western Australia, Australia. It was founded in 13th December 2016. Quintex Capital Pty is duely and verifiably registered under Australia Securities and Investment Commission(ASIC). Quintex Capital Pty involved in Forex and Crypto currency Trading simultaneously.

Quintex Capital Pty trading team consists of highly qualified analyst, analytical experts who by using their experience and latest software, are able to predict the movements in currency exchange & cryptocurrency market with best accuracy. This company is managed by professional crypto currency trading experts with its vision and aim to help those willing to attain financial freedom but lack the technical know-how to achieve.

We have perpetuated our vision to remain at the pinnacle of the crypto world through the opportunity offered to our distinguished clients. Quintex Capital Pty is founded on the principle that cryptocurrencies is changing the fundamental structure of not only our economy and banking systems but also the way we connect and engage as human beings.

The success of traders inspired the creation of Quintex Capital Pty and enter the international trading market to use all the accumulated knowledge and experience on an international scale, Despite the market decline, cryptocurrencies are very volatile, Such volatility allows to constantly earn high profits regardless of whether the cryptocurrency market is falling or growing, A large number of different cryptocurrencies increases our capabilities and gives us prospects for further development and increasing the overall trading volume.

Quintex Capital Pty uses trading bots that monitor the cryptocurrency with the greatest volatility, At the same time, it does not matter whether the price of the cryptocurrency is falling or rising, Traders of Quintex Capital Pty can earn money in any market, The higher is the volatility of cryptocurrencies, the higher is the profit of Quintex Capital Pty.

We work with different exchanges, It increases our capabilities, because different exchanges list different tokens and prices on different exchanges for the same tokens differ, It allows to earn money on arbitration.

  • Trade with 100% peace of mind as we have the best system security team onboard.
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  • Watch your accruals grow in real time and monitor how much revenue is being generated for you
  • With different packages, Our system is modelled to accommodate everyone no matter how much you have to invest.
  • You have zero chances of losing your investments as all our assets are duly covered by insurance.
  • Invest in the world’s most popular cryptocurrency and enjoy all the benefits that come with it

Mission and Vision

As a main worldwide market producer,Quintex Capital Pty is focused on making the most easy to use exchanging speculation experience for every one of our customers while accomplishing greatest benefit. We endeavor to bring the most cutting edge innovation and grow new devices to permit dealers to exchange with certainty and achievement.

Notwithstanding our apparatuses, we additionally guarantee that our client support is of the most elevated level. Whatever demand that you as a financial backer may make, we will bend over backward to guarantee that it will be taken care of in an opportune and expert way.

This is not an Initial Coin Offering. We believe that ICO’s should be approached with caution as the majority of “Alt coins” do not offer any benefits to more established crypto currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc. Quintex Capital Pty is a managed cryptocurrency trading platform with user friendly interface and attractive offer.

Tradeable Coins: Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and XRP. There is no risk whatsoever. Just invest and enjoy the financial freedom..

If you are a registered user of Quintex Capital Pty , please enter your username and password in the appropriate fields at the top of the website and click the “Login to Account” button. You will be redirected to your account automatically as soon as you have done the above.

We take all security measures to protect your account and keep it safe from third parties intrusion. To make investments you should register with Quintex Capital Pty , create an account and then you can make your deposit. All the investments are made in your personal account after login

Source: Quintex Capital Pty Your best crypto investment and trading platform

 

What the End of Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Means for Your Hiring Plans

The recent expiration of federal unemployment benefits likely won’t ease the hiring crunch. It could make it worse. In the past few months, many business owners have grown to begrudge federal pandemic unemployment assistance, which they viewed as providing a disincentive for people to work and thus contributing to a dearth of would-be workers.

With the expiration of that benefit on September 4, 2021, business owners may like what happens next even less. While the jury is still out on the effect of this latest lapse in enhanced unemployment benefits, which clocked in at $300 a week, above what states pay out, history shows that there is a tradeoff.

When unemployment benefits are cut, in general, there is a slight increase in people looking for work, says Ben Zipperer, in economist for the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, but that number tends to be small. The largest result by far, he says, has been a massive decrease in spending among those who’ve lost benefits, which also cuts into a company’s bottom line, making it potentially harder to justify bringing on new hires.

It may also cut into the funds businesses can pay for certain positions, which doesn’t inspire people to get back into the workforce, especially during a pandemic when people more aware of the costs of working at a particular job relative to all the other things that matter in their lives.

“Many low-wage employers are having trouble finding workers to work at [modest] because those jobs are much more dangerous now, and the working conditions are much worse than before the pandemic,” says Zipperer.

In April of last year, the government kicked off its federal assistance program for unemployed Americans, providing as many as 7.5 million access to an extra $600 per week, an amount that was later reduced to $300 per week under the Biden Administration. Unemployment benefits were also offered to contract workers and the self-employed, who under normal circumstances do not qualify for assistance. Payments were extended beyond the traditional 26 weeks offered by most states.

While there are currently no immediate plans in Congress to reauthorize this relief, typical state unemployment benefits will continue, thanks in part to the $350 billion in federal assistance provided to the states under the American Rescue Plan. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government has delivered more than $800 billion in unemployment benefits.

If you’re looking for workers, Tom Sullivan, vice president of small business policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, recommends staying local before all else, and putting the word out as much as possible that you’re hiring. For instance, he notes that a restaurant owner he’s been in contact with found employees by telling customers about job openings directly.

“I think from a small business perspective, all hiring is local, and to that extent, I see remarkable leadership by small businesses trying to capitalize on one of their biggest strengths, and that is their local reputation,” says Sullivan.

By Brit Morse, Assistant editor, Inc.@britnmorse

Source: What the End of Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Means for Your Hiring Plans | Inc.com

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