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It’s August, and All of Europe Is on Vacation. How Do You Run Your Global Business?

Paid vacation time is mandatory in the European Union–four weeks is a minimum. That number can seem crazy to people in the United States, where it takes 20 years of service to reach an average of 20 vacation days a year–and even when we have it, we don’t use it all.

But, in my experience, Europe embraces vacation–sometimes in ways that make no sense. I’ve frequently found restaurants that close for two weeks during peak tourist season–because the owners want to take their own vacation time. I’d think they would close in the offseason and make money while they could, but the vacation culture is strong.

This summer, my family is basically staying put, for a variety of reasons. We’re making a couple of short trips, but otherwise staying in our home in Switzerland (which, admittedly, is a prime vacation spot in and of itself). And it’s impossible to get anything done.

My lawyer has been on vacation for the past three weeks and will be back next week. I have some things I need her to look at, and they have to wait.

Getting a doctor’s appointment? Good luck! At least the walk-in clinic runs year-round.

While this affects my day-to-day life because I’m physically here, it can also affect your business, even if you’re based in the United States. When someone says, “The Geneva office is closed for three weeks,” they aren’t joking, and no one around here even bats an eyelash. So, how do you do the international part of your business when everyone else is at the beach? Here are some ideas:

Plan ahead

This is going to happen every year. Some countries are worse than others, with everyone going at the same time. One of the problems is that European schoolchildren tend to have shorter summer vacations–six weeks is common–compared with the 10 to 12 weeks American schoolchildren get. Don’t cry for the poor, suffering schoolchildren here–they get an additional eight weeks throughout the school year.

But those six weeks are going to vary from country to country. German and British schools tend to get out at the end of July, while Swiss schools close the last week in June. So, you’ll have better luck with your London office in July than you will with your Swiss office. Go ahead and ask when peak vacation season is and plan accordingly.

Partner with larger companies

While small businesses can be excellent partners, if you will need people year-round, without fail, a large company will be a better bet than a small one. The multinational corporation isn’t going to shut down its Paris office for the summer, but the small business might close its doors for the entire month of August. Ask when you are building relationships. They won’t think to bring it up, because it’s often a normal part of doing business here.

Embrace vacation yourself

Go. Take a vacation. Step away from the office and your phone and your laptop. Europeans have proved that the world doesn’t end if you go on a vacation. If you’re good at what you do, people will be waiting for you when you get back. It’s OK to take some downtime.

Just make sure that if you do come to Europe for your vacation that the restaurants will be open in the small village you thought looked charming. Otherwise, you may be miserable during your vacation.

By: Suzanne Lucas, Freelance writer @RealEvilHRLady

Source: It’s August, and All of Europe Is on Vacation. How Do You Run Your Global Business? | Inc.com

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Brazil Stock Market Tanks Amid Petrobras Scandal That Keeps On Giving

Well, that didn’t last long. Brazil is no longer the darling of emerging markets, with stocks crashing over 5% on Friday . Blame the political class, again.

There are two reasons for today’s correction. One was an immediate over-reaction to news headlines, the other is a rethinking of key market-friendly reforms needed in Brazil this year.

Yesterday’s arrest of former president Michel Temer reminded everyone that the Petrobras Car Wash scandal, the very scandal that led to two years of recession and a never-ending political crisis, will pull the rug out from under this country in seconds flat. Brazil stocks are now underperforming. But just wait until investors price in a failed pension reform, which is probably just three months away. I think that is already starting to happen and Temer’s arrest was just reminder that Brazil is in crisis-mode, making it difficult to govern.

Temer was pulled in on Thursday by Federal Police officers for his role in the Petrobras crime spree. They said he helped run an “organized crime” ring within the government: a system of pay-to-play contracts with civil engineering firms like Odebrecht building all sorts of stuff for Petrobras and skimming millions of dollars off the top. Dozens of A-list executives have been jailed now for at least three years. And yadda yadda yadda. … Temer was next in line.

To date, of the top political leaders in charge during the Petrobras contract-rigging scheme, only ex-president Dilma Rousseff is still standing. She desperately tried to become senator of her home state of Minas Gerais last October but came in third place, probably not because she loved politics or had nothing better to do for work. Now that she is a private citizen, like Temer, she has lost political immunity.

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Temer: Petrobras presidential jailbird No. 2. AP Photo/Eraldo Peres

Dilma was impeached in a somewhat farcical April 2016 vote by the lower house of Congress for breaching budget laws. She was later indicted in August of that year, making her vice president, Temer, the new interim President. Her impeachment had nothing to do with Petrobras, though the people who instigated it did, with one of them, House Speaker Eduardo Cunha … in jail.

Brazil spent much of the last two and a half years in political chaos because of Petrobras.

Temer was the most disliked president in Brazilian history, with an approval rating struggling to get over 10%. When the election season began in 2018, it became clear that no one from the parties associated with Petrobras was going to win.

They tried hard. Lawyers for jailed ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva worked overtime trying to convince the United Nations and media influencers from London to New York that he was an innocent man, jailed for his politics. His handpicked successor was Dilma. His second handpicked successor was a former São Paulo mayor, Fernando Haddad. Haddad took it upon himself to admit that he was not his own man, even going so far as printing up and wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the ridiculous campaign slogan: “Haddad is Lula.” He visited Lula in jail for campaign advice. And so as while rubbing the face of the electorate with indicted Petrobras criminals, Haddad got beat by a family-values conservative named Jair Bolsonaro who symbolized the boiled-over anger of those who had had it with anyone affiliated with embattled oil company.

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A supporter of former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva cries in hopes of his release outside the federal police department where Lula is serving a 12-year sentence for corruption in Curitiba, Brazil, on  Dec. 19, 2018. No one has heard from him or about him since the start of the new year. AP Photo/Denis Ferreira

By The Way, Where’s Lula?

Lula has been totally absent from the headlines. The biggest fish fried by the Federal Police made himself part of the daily news cycle in the fall of 2018. The New York Times gave him op-ed space where he sold his political persecution story to the world. (I tried to get an opposing view in the NYT, arguing that he was not a political prisoner, but they rejected it. Tudo bem.)

Now, the disgraced founder of the Workers’ Party is spending the next 12 years in jail, at least. No one is outside his prison quarters cheering “Good morning, president Lula” anymore. He is alone and—mostly—forgotten.

His lawyers are no longer blasting reporters’ Whatsapp accounts with their latest filings of a habeas corpus or a statement by someone who works for the UN Human Rights Commission saying that the Petrobras investigators used their legal powers to jail him unlawfully. Those days are suddenly gone. And they are gone, obviously, because the election is over and the Workers’ Party lost. Lula’s “political persecution” was what it was: a political campaign for the Workers’ Party.

The Car Wash investigation isn’t picking parties to plunder.

Temer’s Democratic Movement Party, a big-tent party of wealthy Brazilian oligarchs, one of the oldest parties in the country, also lost big in last year’s election because of Petrobras. In fact, every party that was part of the government, even those that were part of the majority opposition, got handed their walking papers because of this scandal.

It is no surprise that Temer was arrested. If the courts don’t get you, the voters will.

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Supporters of presidential candidate of the Workers’ Party Fernando Haddad, dressed in a banner written in Portuguese: “Haddad is Lula 13. AP Photo/Eraldo Peres

Brazil’s new government rose to power out of sheer hatred of politicians like Temer and Lula. But this new government is surrounded by noise. Temer’s arrest will likely push Bolsonaro’s already declining public opinion polls lower, especially if Brazilians do not see their economic outlook improving.

Some 68% view Bolsonaro as either “good” or “very good,” with numbers for “very good” declining 15 points since his inauguration in January.

At the start of the year, Jan Dehn, head of research for the Ashmore Group, a $74 billion emerging markets asset manager in London, told me he was giving Bolsonaro until the end of the first half to get something done — on pension reform, in particular. That has been the one issue propping up Bolsonaro’s stock price. As soon as the market feels pension reform is in jeopardy, Brazil’s stock market turns the other way, and Bolsonaro is governing over political crisis and weakening investor sentiment, not much different than Temer did.

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Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s president, said of Temer’s arrest: “Each person has to be responsible for their actions.” Andre Coelho/Bloomberg

© 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP

Bolsonaro: Governing Above The Noise

It is difficult to govern in Brazil due to all the different political alliances. This is not a two-party system. Considering the difficulties already involved in the Brazilian congress, throw political crisis on top of that and it becomes even harder.

Bolsonaro was relatively quiet on Temer’s arrest, preferring to say that, “Each person should be held responsible for their actions.”

Bolsonaro wasn’t elected on an economic platform. He was always an anti-Lula, law-and-order vote.

His government’s economic team is led by BTG Pactual founder Paulo Guedes, a University of Chicago-educated markets guy who has set the course for a somewhat overambitious list of economic reforms. Bolsonaro basically put Guedes in charge of the market.

Given the complex process in approving Guedes’ measures, from pension reforms to privatization, delays are more likely today because of uncertainty surrounding Petrobras investigations than they were last week. The Car Wash investigations are not over, and that means key members of congress could, in theory, be focused on other matters, or perhaps, lose their post in key cabinet positions in worst case scenarios.

Bolsonaro’s small political party—the Social Liberal Party—was not part of the Petrobras scandal, so it is possible they will not be scrambling like the congressional leaders were under Temer’s Administration when arrests were made of private citizens affiliated with them.

On the bright side, that means Bolsonaro has a better chance to inoculate himself from the Petrobras-related arrests like the eight individuals arrested on Thursday.

If he can do that, then smaller reforms like payroll tax breaks and Petrobras asset sales might get done earlier this year. Pension reform is unlikely to go anywhere until the end of the year, Morgan Stanely analysts said in a report. This is a very different view from a month ago when consensus estimates were for some type of pension reform to be competed by July.

The rest of Bolsonaro’s economic agenda depends on how well he can separate himself and his team from the Petrobras brat pack. He will have to remind them that he is president because he was never part of that group in the first place.

For media or event bookings related to Brazil, Russia, India or China, contact Forbes directly or find me on Twitter at @BRICBreaker

I’ve spent 20 years as a reporter for the best in the business, including as a Brazil-based staffer for WSJ. Since 2011, I focus on business and investing in the big eme…

Source: Brazil Stock Market Tanks Amid Petrobras Scandal That Keeps On Giving

The Yield Curve Just Inverted, Putting The Chance Of A Recession At 30%

The interest rate on the U.S. Treasury 10-year bond just fell below the rate on the 3-month bill in response to the Fed’s March announcement. This is called yield curve inversion as defined by Arturo Estrella and Frederic Mishkin. It implies a 25%-30% probability of a recession on a 12-month view. Their research can be found here.

As economic relationships go, the yield curve has a good track record. You can see the data below going back to 1982. Per the chart, using this series over recent history, the yield curve inverts before a recession reliably with no false positives. An impressive record. The blue line shows the spread between 10-year and 3-month interest rates. The black line is the zero bound. The shaded grey periods are historical recessions. Note that there is a lagged relationship here, recession historically occurs 6-18 months after inversion. So today’s yield curve suggests a fair chance of a 2019-2020 recession.

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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 10-Year Treasury Constant Maturity Minus 3-Month Treasury Constant Maturity

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Risks Of Interpretation

Nonetheless, there are some risks with this approach. The first is we’re looking at a limited run of data. There are only a few decades in the sample and a handful of recessions. We’re making a forecast here based on less than ten recessionary events, per the initial research and subsequent out-of-sample data. Plus there are countless pieces of economic data out there. Combining two of them and creating a good recession forecast is possibly due to data mining. For example Tyler Vigen’s site illustrates the problem, showing how correlations can be found between many things that have little basis in reality, such as an apparently strong relationship between mozzarella cheese consumption and sociology degrees. So even though the yield curve relationship looks robust, it has been plucked from hundreds of other relationships that could exist, but don’t look as meaningful. The human brain is adept at creating patterns where none exist.

Also, a 25-30% chance of recession is not that high. Going back from 1960 to 2018 we have 59 years of data. We’ve had U.S. recessions during 16 of those years. So even before any more sophisticated forecasting methods, your chance of being in a recession in any given year are 27%. There’s some auto-correlation there too, as recession years come in clusters, but still, saying the chance of recession coming within a year or so is around one in four isn’t that different from what history tells us regardless of what the economy is doing. Of course, even at a 30% probability the chances are roughly twice as high that a recession does not occur.

Also, the Federal Reserve (Fed) has a key target of avoiding a recession in order to maintain full employment. This one of their key policy targets. The Fed are quite capable of learning. The increasing emphasis on the yield curve has not gone unnoticed by the Fed. In fact, the initial research here was published by the New York Fed itself. So unlike in the past, the Fed may be able to take corrective action, which was exactly what Chairman Powell was looking to stress in the Fed’s March meeting release. The Fed’s challenge is obvious but not simple, a few quarters ago the markets were spooked by a potential stack of rate hikes in 2019 that could risk recession, so the Fed changed course. Yet, in doing so they have helped create an inverted yield curve, introducing another set of recessionary fears.

However, the risk here is the markets are capable of learning too, and there is some evidence that recessions are self-fulfilling, meaning that if enough decision makers expect a recession they may then take the very actions actions, such as temporarily cutting back on spending, that cause a recession to happen. In that light, yield curve inversion gaining more attention is bad news if it causes people to anticipate a recession, which then makes one more likely.

So yield curve inversion is not a positive sign for markets, but we may be overstating its importance. Also if the indicator is to be believed, we should watch out not just for inversion, but when the 3-month yield falls 1% or more below then 10-year yield, then our confidence in a recession around the corner should be quite a bit higher.

Articles educational only, not intended as investment advice.

Follow @simonwmoore on Twitter. Simon is Chief Investment Officer at Moola, and author of Digital Wealth (2015) and Strategic Project Portfolio Management (2009).

Source: The Yield Curve Just Inverted, Putting The Chance Of A Recession At 30%

Stocks To Buy While They’re Down Intel U.S. Steel State Street And Vipshop

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Many investors won’t buy a stock unless it shows “relative strength,” in other words, has been rising more than its peers lately. They are missing some great buying opportunities. Sometimes, I believe, the best time to buy a stock is when it is down. That’s why each quarter I compile a “Casualty List” of stocks that have been wounded and that I think have excellent recovery potential. This is the 62nd Casualty List I’ve prepared, beginning in 2000. The average 12-month gain on the past lists (which can be calculated for 58 columns) has been 18.5%. That compares with 10.2% for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index……..

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johndorfman/2018/10/02/stocks-to-buy-while-theyre-down-intel-u-s-steel-state-street-and-vipshop/#209d458c3ed1

 

 

 

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