Tag Archives: Pimco

El-Erian On Markets Balance Solvency, Growth and Liquidity

Another week has passed by and more ugly signs of how deep our economic troubles are have emerged. The only thing that keeps our financial house of cards from collapsing is the endless stream of money coming from the central banks – primary the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank (ECB). But doubts about the final outcome still persist.

“The health of the global economy, and that of markets, depends on the success of a series of medium-term handoffs between the public and private sectors – in growth, balance sheets and credit flows. This week’s data highlighted their complexity.”

Mohamed El-Erian 

In spite of the massive injection of money into the financial system by the central banks, key economic indicators continue to disappoint.  And by now, the central banks have painted themselves into a corner where there’s little else to do. The global economy is practically in state of stagnation – the next stage is depression…

Mohamad El-Erian at PIMCO is one of the top leaders who have managed to keep his cool and not lose his head throughout this whole mess so far.

He openly admits he does not have all the answers, but as usually he points to some key factors that we all should be aware of.

Here’s his latest commentary, as published by CNBC today:

“The health of the global economy, and that of markets, depends on the success of a series of medium-term handoffs between the public and private sectors – in growth, balance sheets and credit flows. This week’s data highlighted their complexity. Fortunately for investors, the valuation impact is being compensated by central banks‘ wide open liquidity spigots,” El-Erian writes.

And continues:

To counter disorderly private sector de-levering and avoid an economic depression, governments and central banks around the world have aggressively ballooned their balance sheets.

This has helped heal some private balance sheets but job creation has remained very anemic, income inequality has increased, and growth has been too weak to allow for the de-levering of the public sector (including fiscal deficits and central balance sheets which now vary in size from 20% of GDP in the US to 30% in Europe).

In the US, Friday’s disappointing GDP print for the fourth quarter was a reminder of the challenge, especially in view of a less-than-reassuring composition.

Consumer growth was limited to just 2% notwithstanding yet another decline in the savings rate to 3.7%, a level last seen at the end of 2007. Export growth also decelerated. Indeed, were it not for a surge in inventory, the economy would have probably succumbed to the drag from government components.

The extent of the growth challenge in Europe was highlighted by Friday’s higher than expected increase in Spanish unemployment (to an agonizing 22.9%).

Meanwhile several of the region’s governments, ECB, IMF and private creditors continued to squabble about how to allocate the inevitable losses on Greek debt.

In Portugal, another highly vulnerable economy, market measures of default risk reached record highs this week.

The longer such solvency and growth indicators continue to flash red in Europe, the more likely that capital will continue to flee; and the harder it will be to overcome the region’s debt crisis.

Dr. Mohamed El-Erian is CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO, the bond investment house.

Read the full post at CNBC.

Related by econoTwist’s:

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Are We Turning a Mega Cycle?

According to trend researchers. the human evolution moves in cycles; some are short, about 10 years, others  are a bit longer. about 50 – 60 years. But the most fundamental changes in life on earth comes along about every 500 years or so. These changes are often dramatic and violent. What we are experiencing right now may very well be one of the really big turning points in the history of mankind.

“But, remember, a global paradigm shift implies a significant change in opportunities, and not just risks.”

Mohamed A. El-Erian

Charting the megatrends

One of the most sound characteristics of the global crisis I’ve read in quite some time comes from Mohamad El-Erian, CEO of the worlds largest bond fund, PIMCO. El-Erian faces the reality with no fear, admitting that there is no way of predicting what will happen next and points to four crucial factors that you should be watching if you want to be able to adapt to a rapidly changing world.  

“The sense of uncertainty prevailing in the West is palpable, and rightly so. People are worried about their futures, with a record number now fearing that their children may end up worse off than them. Unfortunately, things will become even more unsettling in the months ahead,”  El-Erian writes.

Mohamed A. El-Erian is CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO, and author of the book ” When Markets Collide“.

The following commentary was first published as a part of Project Syndicate.

This version appeared at Al Jazeera a few days ago:

The United States is having difficulties returning its economy to the path of high growth and vigorous job creation.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of US cities, and thousands of others in Europe, to demand a fairer system. In the euro zone, financial crises have forced out two governments, replacing elected representatives with appointed technocrats charged with restoring order.

Concern about the institutional integrity of the euro zone – key to the architecture of modern Europe – continues to mount.

This uncertainty extends beyond countries and regions.

Those looking around the next corner also worry about the stability of an international economic order in which the difficulties faced by the system’s Western core are gradually eroding global public goods.

It is no coincidence that all of this is happening simultaneously.

Each development, and certainly their occurrence in tandem, points to the historic paradigm changes shaping today’s global economy – and to the anxiety that comes with the loss of once-dependable anchors, be they economic and financial or social and political.

Restoring these anchors will take time.

There is no game plan as of now, and historic precedents are only partly illuminating. Yet two things seem clear: Different countries are opting, either by choice or necessity, for different outcomes, and the global system as a whole faces challenges in reconciling them.

Some changes will be evolutionary, taking many years to manifest themselves; others will be sudden and more disruptive.

Yet, as complex as all of this sounds – and, by definition, paradigm changes are complicated affairs that, fortunately, seldom occur – a simple analytical framework may help shed light on what to look for, what to expect and where, and how best to adapt.

The framework relies on an often-used analytical shortcut: identifying a limited set of explanatory variables in what statisticians call “a reduced-form equation”.

The objective is not to account for everything, but rather to pinpoint a small number of variables that can explain key factors, albeit neither perfectly nor fully.

Using this approach, it is possible to argue that the future of many Western economies, and that of the global economy, will be shaped by their ability to navigate four inter-related financial, economic, social, and political dynamics.

De-leveraging

The first relates to balance sheets.

Many Western economies must deal with the nasty legacy of years of excessive borrowing and leveraging; those, like Germany, that do not have this problem are linked to neighbours that do. Faced with this reality, different countries will opt for different de-leveraging options. Indeed, differentiation is already evident.

Some, like Greece, face such a parlous situation that it is difficult to imagine any outcome other than a traumatic default and further economic turmoil; and Greece is unlikely to be the only Western economy forced to restructure its debt. Others, like the United Kingdom, have moved quickly to take firmer control of their destiny, though their austerity drives will inevitably involve considerable sacrifices.

A third group, led by the US, has not yet made an explicit de-leveraging choice. Having more time, they are using the less visible, and much more gradual, path of “financial repression”, under which interest rates are forced down so that creditors, including those on modest fixed incomes, subsidise debtors.

Economic Growth

De-leveraging is closely linked to the second variable – namely, economic growth.

Simply put, the stronger a country’s ability to generate additional national income, the greater its ability to meet debt obligations while maintaining and enhancing citizens’ standards of living.

Many countries, including Italy and Spain, must overcome structural barriers to competitiveness, growth, and job creation through multi-year reforms of labour markets, pensions, housing, and economic governance. Some, like the US, can combine structural reforms with short-term demand stimulus. A few, led by Germany, are reaping the benefits of years of steadfast (and underappreciated) reforms.

But growth, while necessary, is insufficient by itself, given today’s high unemployment and the extent to which income and wealth inequalities have increased. Hence the third dynamic: the West is being challenged to deliver not just growth, but “inclusive growth”, which, most critically, involves greater “social justice”.

Social Justice

Indeed, there is a deep sense that capitalism in the West has become unfair. Certain players, led by big banks, extracted huge profits during the boom, and avoided the deep losses that they deserved during the bust.

Citizens no longer accept the argument that this unfortunate outcome reflects the banks’ special economic role. And why should they, given that record bailouts have not revived growth and employment?

Calls for a fairer system will not go away. If anything, they will spread and grow louder. The West has no choice but to strike a better balance – between capital and labour, between current and future generations, and between the financial sector and the real economy.

This leads to the final variable, the role of politicians and policymakers. It has become fashionable in both the US and Europe to point to a debilitating “lack of leadership”, which underscores the extent to which an inherently complex paradigm change is straining traditional mindsets, processes and governance systems.

Leadership

Unlike emerging economies, Western countries are not well-equipped to deal with structural and secular changes – and understandably so. After all, their histories – and certainly during what was mislabeled as the “Great Moderation” between 1980 and 2008 – have been predominantly cyclical. The longer they fail to adjust, the greater the risks.

Those on the receiving end of these four dynamics – the vast majority of us – need not be paralysed by uncertainty and anxiety. Instead, we can use this simple framework to monitor developments, learn from them, and adapt. Yes, there will still be volatility, unusual strains, and historically odd outcomes.

But, remember, a global paradigm shift implies a significant change in opportunities, and not just risks.

* * *

Well, it is of course important not to lose faith.

However, “De-leveraging,” “economic growth,” “social justice,” and “leadership” – right now the two first are anemic, the two others are more or less absent.

Not cause for the greatest optimism…

Recommended reading: “Endgame: The End of the Debt Supercycle and How It Changes Everything”

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The Week Ahead: Hold On To Your Hats!

When it comes to the global economy, it seems like the fun is just getting started: Regulators are now  calling for extra capital to be imposed on the largest banks, Bank for International Settlements urge economic growth to slow down in order to curb inflation, central bankers are screaming for rate hike and Greek deputy prime minister warns that rebels may block new economic reforms.

“You can’t ask for more taxes in an already overtaxed country, in a market that has been sucked dry, with economic activity at zero and a huge recession.”

Antonis Samaras

Yup! Just when you thought the Chinese was going to save the day, it turns out that it’s not that easy after all. No matter what the bureaucrats of Brussels asks for; the people of Greece may very well give them the middle finger. But that’s not all. The central bankers – who have declared the worst is over  every other week for two years – has suddenly discovered that it’s probably not.

Right now rather disturbing news reports are pouring in.

Here’s some of the headlines of the financial press at the moment:

FINANCIAL TIMES

REUTERS

AP

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

  • French Banks Seek Greek Debt Rollover. French banks have proposed a plan to reinvest half the proceeds from maturing Greek governments bonds ahead of a meeting of key players, in efforts to encourage private investors to contribute to a new bailout for Greece.
  • Nokia, Siemens fail to secure investors. Nokia Corp and Siemens AG failed to secure a deal for investors for a controlling stake in their unprofitable joint venture.

DER SPIEGEL

THIS WEEKS NUMBERS

Well, I have a feeling we might get a surprise or two, also, during the week.

When it comes to the economic data, European investors will look closely at the PMI surveys, that will indicate whether global soft-patch continued into June.

Th week also sees a raft of data on inflation, the US housing market and consumer trends, plus business conditions in Japan.

Monday
A week in which market attention will remain firmly set on Greece starts with the publication of Italian wages data before attention shifts across the Atlantic to the US, where personal income and outlays numbers will be used to gauge the strength of the consumer sector.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday
Greece’s Parliament is scheduled to vote on its new package of austerity measures on Tuesday. The reforms are a requirement for the next tranche of the IMF/EU loans to be released in time for the funding of bonds in mid-July.
The day also features a number of key data releases, starting with Japanese retail sales numbers for May, Gfk consumer confidence in Germany, plus business confidence and producer price numbers for Italy.
In the UK, final gross domestic product (GDP) numbers for Q1 are released, as well as current account data. According to official estimates, the UK economy expanded at only a modest rate of 0.5% in the first quarter of 2011.
After cooling in May, German consumer price inflation is expected to quicken from an annual rate of 2.4% to 2.6%.
Weekly US Redbook store chain sales are published before the release of the S&P Case-Shiller home price index takes centre stage. The index of home prices in the nation’s largest cities fell below its April 2009 low towards the end of Q1, raising worries about a double-dip in house prices.

The US Conference Board publishes its June barometer of consumer sentiment. Confidence waned in May amid rising fuel and oil prices and concerns about the employment situation. This apprehension among consumers likely continued in June.

Wednesday
Preliminary industrial production numbers for Japan will be eagerly anticipated after trade data showed exports falling at a faster-than-expected rate.
French GDP data (final) for Q1 are released in advance of UK consumer credit, mortgage lending/applications and money supply numbers.
European Commission economic sentiment figures for June follow.
Weekly US mortgage applications data are released, as well as pending homes sales numbers, which plunged in April. However, there is evidence to suggest that temporary factors, such as bad weather, were behind the severity of the decline.

Thursday
The Gfk consumer confidence survey for the UK is published ahead of the Markit/JMMA Manufacturing PMI™ for June. The PMI™ pointed to renewed output growth in May, as easing supply chain pressures enabled firms to restart production lines.
Euro zone inflation comes under the spotlight with producer price data for France and the preliminary estimate of consumer price inflation for the single currency area as a whole. After dipping unexpectedly in May, a further easing in the rate of inflation will make a rate hike later in the year less likely. German unemployment numbers are also published for June.
The usual US weekly jobless claims date are accompanied by the Chicago PMI, which will be watched closely due to its good track record with the ISM manufacturing index, published Friday.

Markit’s release of Manufacturing PMIs for Asia follow, notably final data for China, where the flash HSBC PMI™ survey pointed to a stagnation of output and easing price pressures across the sector. HSBC PMI™ releases for South Korea and Taiwan will be monitored for trends in global trade flows.
The Markit Euro Zone Manufacturing PMI™ data follow last week’s flash estimate, which showed the region’s economic growth surge losing momentum at a worrying rate.
The publication of the Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing PMI™ follows shortly after. May data signalled that manufacturing moved from rapid expansion to near-stagnation.
Italy publishes final GDP numbers for Q1 and jobs numbers before the unemployment rate for the euro zone is released.
The week ends in the US, where the University of Michigan consumer confidence index will shed light on consumer spending patterns. Construction spending numbers follow.

However, the ISM Manufacturing PMI will be the key release in the US; the headline index posted its lowest reading for 12-months in May, reflecting a marked slowdown in output and new order growth.

Friday
Friday starts with the release of unemployment, consumer price inflation and household spending numbers for Japan, plus the Bank of Japan’s quarterly survey of business conditions.

Now, hold on to your hats, and trade with attitude!

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