MacroScope

from Global Investing:

Market cap of EM debt indices still rising

It wasn't a good year for emerging market bonds, with all three main debt benchmarks posting negative returns for the first time since 2008. But the benchmark indices run by JPMorgan nevertheless saw a modest increase in market capitalisation, and assets of the funds that benchmark to these indices also rose.

JPMorgan says its index family -- comprising EMBI Global dollar bond indices, the CEMBI group listing corporate debt and the GBI-EM index of local currency emerging bonds -- ended 2013 with a combined market cap of $2.8 trillion, a 2 percent increase from end-2012. Take a look at the following graphic which shows the rise in the market cap since 2001:

Last year's rise was clearly much slower than during previous years.  It was driven mainly by the boom in corporate bonds, which witnessed record $350 billion-plus issuance last year, taking the market cap of the CEMBI to $716 billion compared to $620 billion at the end of 2012, JPM said.

The EMBI Global indices of sovereign dollar bonds fared less well, with capitalisation rising just 1.2 percent to $586 billion. But even here, the growth was largely down to companies -- quasi-sovereigns' share of the index- rose to 27.6 percent, up from 23 percent of a year back.

Local debt fared worst, with market capitalisation actually declining 3.1 percent to $1.5 trillion, but that was largely because of a broad 6 percent-plus fall in emerging currencies versus the dollar.

Financial headcounts stabilize in 2009

After financial firms slashed hundreds of thousands of jobs in 2007 and 2008, the bloodletting slowed in 2009 as major banks rebounded from the financial crisis. Even though firms like Goldman Sachs Group Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co reported billions of dollars in profit, they still did not announce major hiring initiatives.

Recession layoffs Headcount (end 2008) Headcount (end 2009) Bank of America 45,000 240,202 283,717* Citigroup 75,000 323,000 265,000 Goldman Sachs 4,800 34,500 32,500 J.P. Morgan 23,700 224,961 222,316 Morgan Stanley 8,680 45,295 61,388* UBS 19,700 77,783 65,233 Credit Suisse 7,320 47,800 47,600 Barclays 9,050 152,800 144,200 Deutsche Bank 1,380 80,456 77,053 Santander 2,600 170,961 169,460

* Includes additional employees from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney merger and Bank of America’s merger with Merrill Lynch, both of which were completed in 2009 (Steve Eder and Steve Slater)

U.S. economic hole looking shallower

May’s U.S. trade figures have economists feeling quite a bit better about second-quarter GDP. The surprising strength in exports should provide a big lift.

JPMorgan economist Michael Feroli thinks trade may contribute almost 2 percentage points to second-quarter growth, and he adjusted his Q2 GDP forecast to a  much-less-dire decline at a 0.5 percent annual rate from his earlier view of -2.0 percent. Goldman Sachs economist Jan Hatzius is also looking at a less-ugly Q2.

“Absent significant downside surprises in either retail sales or business inventory data next week, this report suggests that our standing estimate for real GDP in Q2 — down 3 percent at an annual rate — is too negative,” he wrote in a note to clients.

What goes down must come up

Like every recession before it, this slump will end. Some day. JPMorgan economist Bruce Kasman thinks that day may come sooner than expected.

“In what feels like the first time since the Babylonian era, we are making an upward revision to our U.S. GDP forecast,” he wrote in a note to clients.

He now sees the economy contracting at a modest rate in the current quarter, which ends in June, with growth resuming in the third quarter. By the middle of next year, he thinks GDP will be growing at a 4 percent rate. That ought to be strong enough to generate jobs (although JPMorgan made no change to its unemployment forecast, which shows the rate peaking at 9.5 percent in the fourth quarter).