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Random Market News 30th May, 2017

June 1, 2017



Brussels presses plan to bundle eurozone debt.

Brussels is pressing for sovereign debt from across the eurozone to be bundled into a new financial instrument and sold to investors as part of a proposal to strengthen the single currency area.

A European Commission paper on the future of the euro, seen by the Financial Times, advocates the launching of a market of “sovereign bond-backed securities” — packaging different countries’ national debt into a new asset.

Officials hope that the plans would boost demand for debt issued by governments with relatively weaker economies, and encourage banks to manage their risks better by diversifying their portfolios, while avoiding old political battles over whether the currency bloc should issue common bonds."




The Business of Litigation Finance Is Booming.

More funding means more lawsuits—increasingly filed by corporations.

The buying and selling of lawsuits—a decade-old practice in the U.S. known as litigation finance—continues to expand. 

Speaking of cheer, there’s plenty of it at Burford Capital, the titan of litigation finance. Its new investments in courtroom combat totaled $378 million in 2016, up 83 percent. There’s no reliable measure of the overall size of the litigation finance market, but Burford alone has more than $2 billion in capital invested or available to be invested, according to the firm’s chief executive, Christopher Bogart. 

“Corporate law departments and their law firms increasingly want to finance their litigation, just as other parts of the corporation finance their activities,” says Bogart.

Foes of litigation finance, led by the legal arm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, focus on the Chevron case to make the argument that such funding increases the volume of expensive, distracting, and sometimes-dubious lawsuits."


Greater availability of automated/natural language processing for document review probably makes screening more economic. That said, NLP has some ways to go, at least for hackers (see tech news below).




Consultants Deliver Aviation Assets Warning.

German asset manager KGAL Real Investments said in a report last week that twenty-eight percent of investors... planned to make an initial or increased allocation to aviation. That compares with 25 percent of investors planning the same for infrastructure, 17 percent for real estate and 17 percent for renewable energy.

Aircraft leasing can deliver a yield of more than 8 percent, compared to infrastructure assets which are typically between 4 percent and 5 percent, according to Tony Foster, a senior investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management."




CPPIB Reaches C$316.7 Billion in FY 2017 – One of Largest Increases of the Fund.

The biggest gains for the year came from CPPIB’s investments in equities and real assets. It earned 19.2% from its Canadian public equities, compared to a loss of 6.4% in 2016, and saw a return of 18.9% from both foreign and emerging pubic equities, which had lost 2.8% and 8.7% respectively the previous year. Foreign private equities returned 15.8%, compared to gains of 8.8% in 2016; and natural resources and agriculture investments rose 16.8%, compared to a loss of 7.7% last year."




German pension reform back on track after coalition agreement.

The German government’s pension reform package is back on track after the coalition parties came to an agreement on the proposed legislation last week, leaving untouched a proposed ban on guarantees for new defined contribution plans.

The “social partner” model is a central pillar of the BRSG. It means sector-wide collective bargaining parties – including unions and employers – can introduce defined contribution (DC) or “defined ambition” pension schemes, with neither the employer nor the pension provider allowed to provide guarantees. Both these aspects were heavily debated by the coalition in preceding weeks. Defined contribution pensions have not been possible in Germany so far."




Bain Capital enters China with $200m NPL portfolio purchase.

Bain Capital said on Monday it has agreed to buy a portfolio of non-performing loans worth $200 million in principal from a Chinese asset management company, the latest move by international investors seeking a piece of the booming market for distressed debt in the world’s second-largest economy. 

Bain Capital Credit made the investment as part of its special situations strategy in Asia, the company said in a statement. The portfolio of real estate-related loans, including loans linked to commercial retail assets, hotels and industrial assets, was Bain’s first purchase in China, said a person familiar with the deal who declined to be identified because details of the transaction are not public. 

The loans were previously with China’s biggest distressed debt manager China Huarong Asset Management Co Ltd, the person said."


NPLs continue to rise, totaling 1.51 trn (US$219b) RMB as end of 2016, an increase of 18.7% compared to end-2015. Both non-performing loans (NPLs) and a broad measure of NPLs including special mentioned loan ratio registered a quarter-on-quarter decline in Q4 2016, the first time since 2012."




The Daily Shot: 31-May-17


The United States

1. Let’s begin with Tuesday’s inflation report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).


• Similarly, the “trimmed mean” PCE inflation, an indicator the Fed tracks closely, also declined.




2. Despite softer inflation readings (above), the Fed is on target to hike next month. However, the jury is still out on what happens after the June hike. The probability of a third rate increase this year is below 50%.




3. The Conference Board consumer confidence came in below economists’ consensus.




4. US consumer spending bounced last month. Here is the total month-over-month spending change as well as the same index excluding food and energy (core).

On a year-over-year basis, core consumer spending slowed a bit but is still above 4%.




5. With the US consumer confidence off the highs and spending improving last month, the divergence between this specific set of “soft” and “hard” data has narrowed.

Source: @osullivanEcon




6. US housing price increases from S&P/Case-Shiller came in above expectations as inventories remain tight.


Source: @lenkiefer; Read full article



Current housing completions remain below the long-run demand.




7. Freight indices point to a recovery in shipping – a helpful index to gauge the overall economic activity.

Source: Source: Cass Information Systems, Inc.







8. Will we see an improvement in auto sales when the report comes out next month? So far this year, it’s been a disappointment.






9. Texas manufacturing activity is off the highs but remains robust.

• The overall index:





10. The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow forecast for the second quarter GDP remains optimistic at 3.8%.





11. The chart below compares the GDP growth forecasts from Moody’s, the CBO, and the White House. As discussed previously, US demographics make the 3% annual growth target quite challenging (second chart).

Source: Moody’s Investors Service



In fact, Tuesday’s BEA report estimates the US population growth below 0.7% per year – the lowest in recent history.



12. Balancing the budget will be tough without touching the entitlement programs. Here is the latest budget pie-chart showing a relatively small non-military discretionary spending slice. And few will want to cut budgets for institutions such as the National Institutes of Health.

Source: Moody’s Investors Service


Indeed, the US trade deficit with Germany is much higher than with most other countries, including Mexico. However, it’s unclear what, if anything, can be done without impacting the overall US trade with the EU.

The Treasury curve has flattened further, and speculative accounts are positioning for this trend to continue.



Source: BMI Research




Equity Markets


1. Bank stocks are narrowing their outperformance since the elections, as the curve flattening (above) threatens interest margins.





2. Kinder Morgan shares took a hit on the shift in the British Columbia politics.


This event, combined with softer energy prices, sent MLP prices lower.





3. E&P share underperformance widens as investors remain skeptical on oil prices.




4. Pharmaceuticals are underperforming the S&P 500 by over 20% percent again (from the previous year).




5. Utilities are rallying with longer-dated Treasuries.




6. Tech remains the market leader as Amazon shares break $1,000.




7. Finally, insider selling hit the highest level in seven years.







1. Munis continue to rally, as the risk of the GOP implementing meaningful personal tax cuts recedes.






2. This chart shows the global issuance of CoCos over time.



Source: Moody’s Investors Service




3. Earnings growth of companies that issued leveraged loans has stalled.



Source: @lcdnews



4. Here is the distribution of student debt amounts (per person) for graduate and undergraduate students.




Source: @hamiltonproj, @josephncohen




5. In this recovery, private sector leverage has shifted from households to corporations.







Source: @ericbeebo; 



Energy Markets


US natural gas prices tumbled on cooler temperatures reducing demand for power.





1. The Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex hit the lowest level since 2008. This does not bode well for US farm credit and potentially some lenders in this space.


Here are the soy futures.




2. Cocoa futures saw the biggest one-day increase as Ivory Coast crop sales exceeded forecasts.





Emerging Markets


1. Moody’s put Brazil on negative watch in response to the political mess.



Source: Moody’s Investors Service; Read full article



While the real has recovered some ground, it remains firmly below the “pre-scandal” levels.