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from Global Investing:

Less yen for carry this time

The Bank of Japan unleashed its full firepower this week, pushing the yen to 3-1/2 year lows of 97 per dollar.  Year-to-date, the currency is down 11 percent to the dollar. But those hoping for a return to the carry trade boom of yesteryear may wait in vain.

The weaker yen of pre-crisis years was a strong plus for emerging assets, especially for high-yield currencies. Japanese savers chased rising overseas currencies by buying high-yield foreign bonds and as foreigners sold used cheap yen funding for interest rate carry trades. But there's been little sign of a repeat of that behaviour as the yen has fallen sharply again recently .

Most emerging currencies are flatlining this year and some such as the Korean won and Taiwan dollar are deep in the red. The first reason is dollar strength of course, but there are other issues. Take equities -- clearly some cash at the margins is rotating out to Japan, where equity mutual funds have received $14 billion over the past 16 weeks.  While the Nikkei is up 21 percent, Asian indices are broadly flat. In South Korea whose auto firms such as Hyundai and Kia compete with Japan's Toyota and Honda, shares are bleeding foreign cash. The exodus has helped push the won down 5 percent to the dollar in 2013.

Second, the much-vaunted outflows from Japan have not yet lived up to expectations.  JPMorgan tracks Japanese investment trusts with $67 billion in assets but says only $2.3 billion have flowed to emerging bonds this year, all of it in January and February.

from Global Investing:

Emerging markets facing current account pain

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Emerging markets may yet pay dearly for the sins of their richer cousins. While recent financial crises have been rooted in the United States and euro zone, analysts at Credit Agricole are questioning whether a full-fledged emerging markets crisis could be on the horizon, the first since the series of crashes from Argentina to Turkey over a decade ago. The concern stems from the worsening balance of payments picture across the developing world and the need to plug big  funding shortfalls.

The above chart from Credit Agricole shows that as recently as 2006, the 34 big emerging economies ran a cumulative current account surplus of 5.2 percent of GDP. By end-2011 that had dwindled to 1.7 percent of GDP. More worrying yet is the position of "deficit" economies. The current account gap here has widened to 4 percent of GDP, more than double 2006 levels and the biggest since the 1980s. The difficulties are unlikely to disappear this year, Credit Agricole says,  predicting India, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, Vietnam, Poland and Romania to run current account deficits of over 4 percent this year.

from Funds Hub:

And the award for best hedge fund goes to….

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Take a bow George Soros, Trafalgar Capital, King Street, Credit Agricole and a host of others.

Oscar statuesThose lovely people at Lipper (wholly-owned by Thomson Reuters, I should note) have handed out the gongs for the top hedge funds in 2009. The awards pick out the managers delivering the best consistent returns over three years among participants the Lipper TASS database, divvying up the goodwill between strategies and regions to give a global snapshot of the leading performers.

from Breakingviews:

Credit Agricole’s foreign illusions

Credit Agricole is stumping up to support a 1 billion euro capital boost at Emporiki. The Greek bank, for which Credit Agricole paid handsomely just 3 years ago, has proven a disaster. Just as well that it never managed to acquire a bigger foreign portfolio.

It is not wholly surprising that Agricole has been keen to buy banks abroad. Ever since the Credit Lyonnais acquisition in 2003 it has had a dominant position in France, constraining further expansion. So to scratch that dealmaking itch, management had to look beyond the home market.

from Funds Hub:

Return to sender

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post-box2The rush by traditional asset managers to embrace absolute return products has failed to impress investors, who are now switching to cheaper, passive investing. But what will fill the revenue hole left by these high margin products is far from clear.

Aymeric Poizot, a senior director at Fitch Ratings, points out that many of the alternative offerings developed by traditional managers in the boom years have been quietly wound up, or had their resources reduced. For example, Fortis Investments has closed some of its internal hedge funds, whilst heavy redemptions have hit alternative offerings at Credit Agricole. SSgA also wound up its own hedge fund unit at the end of 2007.

from Trading Places:

Job Bank – Sep. 25

ubs.jpgThe following are job changes within the financial industry for September 23, linked where possible to profiles on LinkedIn. To inform us of other job changes, please e-mail moves@thomsonreuters.com.

UBS
The Swiss bank has hired former Bear Stearns executive Jeffrey Mayer as joint head of the fixed income, currencies and commodities business. Mayer will be based in New York and Stamford.

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