Wednesday, September 28, 2016

China markets face worst year since 2011; Global economy in a trap, needs creative destruction; World's biggest bank IPO

1 China markets face worst year since 2011 (Straits Times) This year is seen going down as the worst since 2011 for China's stock investors as the memory of last summer's rout lingers and speculative buying switches to the housing market.

The Shanghai Composite Index will end the year at 3,075, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg poll of 10 strategists and fund managers. That implies a 13 per cent drop over the 12-month period, the steepest in five years. Fading prospects for monetary easing, a slowing economy and the risk of higher US borrowing costs spurring yuan weakness were among factors weighing on the nation's shares, the survey showed.

Turnover on the world's second-largest stock market has collapsed to a two-year low as China's army of investors, unnerved by 2015's plunge in equity values, charged into other assets. After a frenzied bet on commodities futures soured, they have set their sights on a bigger target - property. With new home prices now jumping the most in six years, analysts are scaling back projections for interest-rate cuts.

"The property market and the stock market are like a seesaw," said Li Lifeng, a strategist at Sinolink Securities Co. in Shanghai. "If the 'fever' in the property market doesn't cool down, funds will flow from equities into real estate." Small-cap technology stocks are the least preferred by analysts in the survey because of stretched valuations, while building companies are favored thanks to government efforts to boost infrastructure investment.

2 Global economy in a trap, needs creative destruction (Hans Werner-Sinn in The Guardian) Almost eight years ago, the Lehman Brothers collapse plunged the global economy into recession. Though central banks have maintained ultra-low interest rates, the crisis hasn’t yet been fully overcome. On the contrary, numerous economies simply aren’t making any headway. And Japan has been on the ropes for a quarter of a century.

I find it plausible that behind the post-2008 stagnation lies what I refer to as “self-inflicted malaise”. This hypothesis is best understood in the context of the economist Joseph Schumpeter’s theory of the business cycle. Faulty expectations on the part of market participants regularly cause credit and asset-price bubbles.

Investors, expecting prices and incomes to rise, purchase residential and commercial properties, and they take chances on new business ventures. Real estate prices start to rise, a construction boom occurs, and a new phase of rapid expansion begins, partly sustained by the revitalisation of the domestic economy, including services. The growth in incomes increasingly emboldens borrowers, which further heats things up.

Then the bubble bursts. Investment collapses and real estate prices fall; businesses and banks go bankrupt; factories and residential buildings are vacated; and employees are laid off. Once prices and wages have fallen, new investors step in with new business ideas and establish new firms. After this “creative destruction”, a new phase of rapid expansion sets in.

In the current crisis, however, monetary policy pre-empted the creative destruction that could have formed the basis for a new upswing in growth. Asset holders talked central bankers into believing that Schumpeter’s economic cycle could be overcome by large-scale bond purchases financed via the printing press, and by corresponding interest-rate reductions.

The only way out of the trap is a hefty dose of creative destruction, which in Europe would have to be accompanied by debt relief and exits from the eurozone, with subsequent currency devaluations. The shock would be painful for the incumbent wealth owners, but, after a rapid decline in the dollar values of asset prices, including land and real estate, new businesses and investment projects would soon have room to grow, and new jobs would be created.

The natural return on investment would again be high, meaning that the economy could expand once again at normal interest rates. The sooner this purge is allowed to take place, the milder it will be, and the sooner Europeans and others will be able to breathe easy again.

3 World’s biggest bank IPO (Matein Khalid in Khaleej Times) China's economic malaise has led to a rise in non-performing loans (Beijing estimates 1.5 per cent NPL, Wall Street estimates 12-15 per cent NPL) in the Chinese banking system and a slowdown in financial sector profits. Despite this, I am convinced the $7 billion IPO of the Postal Savings Bank of China (PSBC) in Hong Kong will be a winner. Why?

PSBC is a state owned megabank with 500 million clients and 50,000 branches. This bank's only comparables are ICBC, Bank of China, CCB and the Agricultural Bank of China. This fact alone means Beijing will ensure the deal is a success. Two, the deal is largely presold to strategic shareholders at $0.61.

Three, the euphoria that once made China's Big Four banks the largest financial institutions on the planet is long gone. Chinese state banks now trade below book value. This does not mean the IPO will be a failure. Note China shipbuilding alone bought $2 billion of shares.

Five, the bank has priced the IPO offer price at 4.76 Hong Kong dollars. I expect at least a 10 per cent rise when the bank breaks syndicate and is listed on the stock exchange next week. This is the best money making opportunity in Chinese IPO since Jack Ma led Alibaba in New York all those years ago.

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