Tag: Yield Curve

Yield Curve From a Month Ago and the Impact of Remittances on Global Capital Flows

WSJ – Daily Shot: Fed Funds Futures Curve 8/28/19

For perspective.

FT – Remittances: the hidden engine of globalization – Federica Cocco, Jonathan Wheatley, Jane Pong, David Blood, and Aendrew Rininsland 8/27/19

…An estimated 270m migrants around the world who will send a combined $689bn back home this year, the World Bank estimates. That figure marks a landmark moment: this year remittances will overtake foreign direct investment as the biggest inflow of foreign capital to developing countries.

Remittances were once viewed by many economists as a secondary issue for developing economies behind FDI and equity investments. Yet because of their sheer volume and  consistent and resilient nature, these flows are now “the most important game in town when it comes to financing development”, says Dilip Ratha, head of the World Bank’s global knowledge partnership on migration and development.

The number of people in the world who live outside the country of their birth has risen from 153m in 1990 to 270m last year according to the World Bank, swelling global remittance payments from a trickle to a flood. As migration has increased, these financial snail-trails have become one of the defining trends of the past quarter-century of globalization – the private, informal, personal face of global capital flows.

For many developing economies, it is a lifeline.

“In times of economic downturn, natural disaster or political crisis, private capital tends to leave and even official aid is hard to administer,” says Mr Ratha. “Remittances are the first form of help to arrive, and they keep rising.”

Remittance inflows help boost countries’ balance of payments and therefore their credit ratings, lowering the borrowing costs of governments, companies and households. In the Philippines, for example, this year’s remittances inflows of $34bn will help reduce what would otherwise be a current account deficit of more than 10% of gross domestic product to a deficit of just 1.5% of GDP.

But remittances have economic downsides too. By helping to subsidize low incomes at home they provide a cushion against the impact of slow growth, which eases pressure on governments to reform their policies.

And, by channeling capital into consumer spending, remittances boost imports – which, some economists say, holds back the development of domestic manufacturing.

Remittances are also one of the key transmission mechanisms of global economic stress. People move in search of opportunities, so emigration rises when an economy is doing badly. When their host country is doing well and migrants prosper, they send more money home – a counter-cyclical boost to the struggling economy at home.

But when host countries hit hard times, the shock is transmitted back to migrants’ families in the form of lower remittances. This can export the slowdown to the recipient country, fueling economic instability on a global scale.

One example is the recent fall in oil prices. It was a blow not only to oil producing countries but also to families across south-east Asia and elsewhere who have breadwinners working in the Gulf.

It proved to be a structural shock for Lebanon, a small economy in which families and the banking system are heavily dependent on inflows from the diaspora.

“We’ve been watching Lebanon closely because remittances have really declined in the past decade, by almost 12% of GDP,” says Frank Gill of S&P Global, one of the big three rating agencies. “This is a key source of funding for the public sector and it’s a major worry for a rating agency, for obvious reasons.”

In May S&P lowered its outlook for Lebanon’s sovereign rating to negative, citing slowing inflows from non-residents as a threat to the country’s fiscal stability.

Although remittances have become one of the chief characteristics of the current era of globalization, political shifts including the rise of populism raise the question of whether their economic importance will prove short-lived.

The backlash against globalization is growing and anti-immigration sentiment is rising in many developed countries. So it is possible that both migration and the capital flows that it drives could begin to ebb.

But the World Bank expects 550m people to join the work forces of low and middle-income countries between now and 2030. And the gaping income disparity between developed and low-income countries – $43,000 a year per capita in the former, and $800 a year in the latter – is set to persist.

That means job opportunities abroad will continue to look attractive.

And the push from poor countries will be met by a pull from rich ones.

“The western world is ageing, and it’s going to be increasingly reliant on imported labor,” says S&P’s Mr Gill. “I don’t see why that isn’t going to continue.”

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July 3, 2018

Worthy Insights / Opinion Pieces / Advice

A Wealth of Common Sense – Sustaining Wealth is Harder Than Getting Rich – Ben Carlson 7/1

FT – US and China must find ways to control their elites – Rana Foroohar 7/1

  • “Success rests on heading off popular unrest, rather than winning trade fights.”

Market Watch – Yes, corporations have brought home cash after the tax cut, but they haven’t put it to work – Rex Nutting 6/29

NYT – What’s the Yield Curve? ‘A Powerful Signal of Recessions’ Has Wall Street’s Attention – Matt Phillips 6/25

WSJ – Tariffs Aren’t China’s Strongest Weapon Against the U.S. – Nathaniel Taplin 7/2

  • “Mr. Trump’s trade agenda may have certain U.S. industries-like steel-flashing smiles. American companies operating in China, though, can expect to lost a few teeth.”

Markets / Economy

Bloomberg – Where Have America’s Truck Drivers Gone? – Virginia Postrel 6/24

  • “The U.S. trucking industry is short about 50,000 drivers, estimates Bob Costello, chief economist for the American Trucking Associations. The driver shortage ranked first among industry concerns in the American Transportation Research Institute’s annual survey, released last October.”
  • “The strong economy means more stuff to haul, even as increasing numbers of truckers retire. The average age of over-the-road truckers…is 49, compared with 42 for the U.S. workforce as a whole. Forecasts of massive job losses from autonomous trucks don’t help. Few people want to join a dying profession. With unemployment low, there are other options.”
  • “In response, pay is up. The median salary for drivers who haul a variety of goods nationally is about $53,000, according to an ATA survey published in March. That’s a $7,000 increase since the previous survey five years ago, or about $4,000 when corrected for inflation. For drivers who work for private fleets serving individual companies, such as PepsiCo Inc. or Walmart Inc., median pay is $86,000, up from $73,000.”
  • “But a shortfall remains. Recent regulatory changes exacerbate the problem. So does an increasing shortage of places to park.”

Tech

FT – China backs $15bn tech fund to compete with Japan’s SoftBank – Arash Massoudi and Don Weinland 7/1

  • “China Merchants Group has teamed up with a London-based firm to launch a new Rmb100bn ($15bn) technology investment fund with aim of becoming China’s answer to the near-$100bn Vision Fund created by Japan’s SoftBank.”
  • “The state-owned conglomerate, along with other unnamed Chinese groups, has pledged to invest up to Rmb40bn of the fund, in what would be a huge pool of capital primarily designed to target investments in Chinese technology companies.” 
  • “CMG is set to announce the plans with the UK’s Centricus, the investment firm that helped structure SoftBank’s record-setting technology fund, and SPF Group, a small Beijing-based fund manager that counts Joshua Fink, the son of BlackRock founder Larry Fink, as one of its partners.”

Health / Medicine

Bloomberg – Sky-High Deductibles Broke the U.S. Health Insurance System – John Tozzi and Zachary Tracer 6/26

  • “Employers are questioning a system they say costs patients too much.”

FT – US drug maker Pfizer lifts price of Viagra and 100 other products – David Crow 7/2

China

FT – China tightens party control of foreign university ventures – Emily Feng 7/1

  • “British academic ejected from board after writing essay critical of Communist party.”

Russia

FT – Older Russians fear pension reform will hit income – Kathrin Hille 7/1