Tag Archives: germany

China to add new Germany to global economy in four years

Shopping in China is growing so quickly that by 2021 it will add another $1.8 trillion to the global economy, says recent research from Boston Consulting Group and AliResearch, Alibaba’s research arm. This is roughly the size of Germany’s consumer economy today.

The report says Chinese consumption is growing by 10 percent a year, faster than any other country. Even if Chinese GDP grows at the conservative pace of 5.5 percent per year, the country’s consumer economy will reach $6.1 trillion by 2021, the research shows.

The key factors for the rapid growth are an emerging upper-middle class, a young population that is eager to spend, and a boost to online shopping.

“Because of these factors, Chinese consumers in the aggregate are spending more, and they’re trading up to higher-quality products,” said Jeff Walters, a partner at BCG and one of the authors of the report.

“Digital technology is one of the underlying drivers that will continue to spur purchases. The Chinese population is more connected than people in other countries, and by 2021, 90 percent of all purchases will involve digital at some point in the process – browsing, comparing prices or making the actual purchase,” he added.

Chinese spending habits have changed, too. People are buying more expensive products like electronics.

The younger generation is likely to spend $2.6 trillion in 2021, up from $1.5 billion in 2016 and $700 billion in 2011.

More and more Chinese are staying unmarried. If earlier only four percent were single after 35, the number has climbed to 21 percent.

Last year, on Chinese Singles Day, the country’s answer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, saw a more than $17 billion intra-day spending, an record. The day was established as an anti-Valentine’s Day joke and has turned into a massive shopping spree.

Source

John Rubino: How Stupid Do You Have To Be To Let This Happen?

By John Rubino, Mar 27, 2016

How Stupid Do You Have To Be To Let This Happen?

Europe is the birthplace of Western civilization and the source of most of the trends and bodies of knowledge that define modernity. The average European speaks several languages versus sometimes less than one for Americans. They are, in short, a well-schooled people with vast accumulated wisdom.

So how do we explain this: After World War II most European countries set up generous entitlement systems including government pensions designed to offer dignified retirements to citizens who had worked hard and paid taxes and obeyed the rules for a lifetime. BUT they didn’t bother putting anything aside for the inevitable — and mathematically predictable — retirement of the immense baby boomer generation. Here’s an excerpt from a recent Wall Street Journal article outlining the problem:

Europe Faces Pension Predicament

State-funded pensions are at the heart of Europe’s social-welfare model, insulating people from extreme poverty in old age. Most European countries have set aside almost nothing to pay these benefits, simply funding them each year out of tax revenue. Now, European countries face a demographic tsunami, in the form of a growing mismatch between low birthrates and high longevity, for which few are prepared.Europe’s population of pensioners, already the largest in the world, continues to grow. Looking at Europeans 65 or older who aren’t working, there are 42 for every 100 workers, and this will rise to 65 per 100 by 2060, the European Union’s data agency says. By comparison, the U.S. has 24 nonworking people 65 or over per 100 workers.

“Western European governments are close to bankruptcy because of the pension time bomb,” said Roy Stockell, head of asset management at Ernst & Young. “We have so many baby boomers moving into retirement [with] the expectation that the government will provide.”

The demographic squeeze could be eased by the influx of more than a million migrants in the past year. If many of them eventually join the working population, the result could be increased tax revenue to keep the pension model afloat. Before migrants are even given the right to work, however, they require housing, food, education and medical treatment. Their arrival will have effects on public finances that officials have only started to assess.

A Growing Mismatch
The pension squeeze doesn’t follow the familiar battle lines of the eurozone crisis, which pits Europe’s more prosperous north against a higher-spending, deeply indebted south. Some of the governments facing the toughest demographic challenges, such as Austria and Slovenia, have been among those most critical of Greece.

Germans, meanwhile, “are promoting fiscal rules in Spain and other countries, but we are softening the pension rules” at home, said Christoph Müller, a German academic who advises the EU on pension statistics. He pointed to a recent change allowing some workers to collect benefits two years early, at 63. A German labor ministry spokesman called that “a very limited measure.”

Europe’s state pension plans are rife with special provisions. In Germany, employees of the government make no pension contributions. In the U.K., pensioners get an extra winter payment for heating. In France, manual laborers or those who work night shifts, such as bakers, can start their benefits early without penalty.

Across Europe, the birthrate has fallen 40% since the 1960s to around 1.5 children per woman, according to the United Nations. In that time, life expectancies have risen to roughly 80 from 69.

In 2012, the Polish government launched a series of changes in its main national pension plan to make it more affordable. One was a gradual rise in the age to receive benefits. It will reach 67 by 2040, marking an increase of 12 years for women and seven for men. The changes mean the main pension plan now is financially sustainable, said Jacek Rostowski, a former finance minister and architect of the overhaul.

The party that enacted the changes lost an election in October, however, and a central promise of the winning party is to undo them. Recently, Poland’s president introduced a bill to reverse some of the measures. “You have to take care of people, of their dignity, not finances,” said Krzysztof Jurgiel, agriculture minister in the current Law & Justice Party government.

The implication is that Germany, Italy, Spain, France et al are functionally bankrupt, apparently (amazingly) by choice. They saw the avalanche coming decades ago and instead of getting out of the way or reinforcing their chalets, simply sat there watching the snow roll down the mountain. It will be arriving shortly, and they’re still debating what — if anything — to do about it.

In fact the only thing that can be reasonably described as preparation is the decision to ramp up immigration. This might have worked if Europe had chosen more compatible immigrants, but that’s a subject for a different column. For now let’s focus on insanely stupid choice number one, which is to offer entitlements with no funding mechanism other than future tax revenue. If an insurance company or corporate pension plan did something like that its executives would be led away in handcuffs — rightfully so, since the essence of such deferred-payout entities is an account that starts small and grows to sufficient size as its beneficiaries begin to need it.

So what the Europeans have aren’t actually pensions, but a form of election fraud designed to give an entire generation of politicians the ability to offer free money to voters without consequence.

Soon, a whole continent will be left with no choice but to devalue its currency to hide the magnitude of its mismanagement. The math will work like this: devalue the euro by 50% while raising pension payouts by 20%, thus cutting the real burden significantly — while taking credit for the nominal benefit increase at election time. It might work, based on the level of voter credulity displayed so far.

Now here’s where it gets really interesting. The US “trust funds” that have been created to guarantee Social Security and Medicare are full of Treasury bonds, the interest on which is paid from — you guessed it — taxes levied each year on US citizens. So the only real difference between the European pay-as-you-go and US trust fund models is that the former is more honest.

This is why gold bugs and other sound money people are so certain that precious metals will soon be a lot more valuable. The pension numbers are catastrophic everywhere and the reckoning that was once merely inevitable is now imminent. Europe is a little further along demographically and so might have to devalue its currency first, but $80 trillion in unfunded Medicare liabilities can’t be denied. We’ll be following along shortly.

This article is written by John Rubino of Dollarcollapse.com and with his kind permission, Gecko Research has been privileged to publish his work on our website. To find out more about Dollarcollapse.com, please visit:

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Germany wants its gold back

RT, Mar 21, 2016

© Lisi Niesner

 

The Bundesbank has announced plans to repatriate some of Germany’s gold reserves from abroad. At least half of the country’s gold would be transferred to Frankfurt by 2020, according to Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann.

Weidmann says 366 tons of gold worth €11.5 billion have been delivered to Frankfurt so far. “There are now about 1,400 tons or 41.5 percent of our gold reserves here,” the banker said.

In October last year Germany’s gold reserves stood to around 3,384 tonnes, worth about €120 billion, which is the second largest in the world after the US.

Weidmann added the rest of the gold will remain in New York and London, which he says are as safe as Germany. In case of emergency, these reserves would quickly be converted on the markets in these cities, the banker said.

The Bundesbank has been criticized at home for keeping a major part of Germany’s gold reserves abroad. Critics are demanding the complete return of the gold to the country. They regard the gold as insurance if a crisis comes, and the immediate physical availability would be the decisive criterion.

When trying to move gold from New York in 2014, the Bundesbank met obstacles from US authorities when officials tried to inspect the German gold kept in US vaults.

“I’m no conspiracy theorist, but the Bundesbank should be able to audit the gold once a year like it does with reserves in Frankfurt,” Hans Olaf Henkel, a German member of the European Parliament, told RT.

Some even doubted the German gold is still physically there.

“We are still missing … published lists of gold bar number, even though the US Federal reserve publishes this list for their own gold,” said Peter Boehringer, founder of the Repatriate our Gold Campaign.

Source

John Rubino: 2007 All Over Again, Part 3: Banks Starting To Implode

By John Rubino, Feb 8, 2016

So far, each financial crisis in the series that began with the junk bond bubble of 1989 has been noticeably different from its predecessors. New instruments, new malefactors, new monetary policy experiments in response.

But the one that’s now emerging feels strikingly similar to what just happened a few years ago: Banks overexposed to assets they thought were safe but turn out to be highly risky see their balance sheets deteriorate, their liquidity dry up and their stocks plunge.

This time it’s starting in Europe, where bank stocks are down by over 20% year-to-date and credit spreads are exploding. For a general look at this process see Is Another European Bank Crisis Starting?

Not surprisingly, the scariest stories are emanating from Italy which, despite inventing the mega-bank concept during the reign of the Medici, seems unable to grasp how money actually works. Check out the following Wall Street Journal chart of non-performing loans. When 16% of an entire country’s borrowers have stopped making their payments, that country is pretty much over.

Italy non performing loans

All eyes are therefore on Italy’s Banca Monte dei Paschi, which has a non-performing loan ratio of 33% and, as a result, a plunging share price. When the Italian economy finally blows up, this will probably be where it starts.

But here the story takes an even more disturbing turn. It seems that the other lender now spooking the markets is none other than Deutsche Bank, pillar of the world’s best-performing economy. Shockingly-bad recent numbers have combined with questions about its mountain of derivatives and exotic debt to put DB in a very uncomfortable spotlight. Excerpts from analysis of the aforementioned debt:

What Deutsche Bank’s Plunging CoCo Bonds Just Said about the Bank’s Future

(Wolf Street) – Shares of scandal-plagued, litigation-hammered, loss-ridden Deutsche Bank, one of the largest and least capitalized megabanks in the world, closed at €16.32 today in Frankfurt, down 50% from April last year. Investors are fidgeting in their seats, cursor on the sell-button.In October, it had announced that it would shed divisions, clients, and employees, and hopefully some risks, and that it would scrap its dividends.

January 20, the bank reported “earnings” – in quotes because it was a sea of red ink. It had lost €2.1 billion in the fourth quarter, including €1.2 billion in its investment banking division where revenues had plunged 30%. This brought “earnings” for the year to a record loss of €6.8 billion.

All these losses, write-offs, and fines have eaten into Deutsche Bank’s already low capital buffer. To prop up Tier 1 capital, Deutsche Bank had issued the equivalent of €4.6 billion (about $5 billion) in “contingent convertible bonds,” spread over four issues, two in dollars, one in euros, and one in pounds – something for everyone.

These CoCo bonds, as they’re called, are special: The bank can call them after a certain date but doesn’t have to redeem them; annual coupon payments are contingent on the bank’s ability to stay above certain cash and capital requirements, as specified by German and European banking regulations; and investors cannot call a default if the bank fails to make the coupon payment.

Despite the risks, yield-desperate investors eagerly gobbled them up. Now Deutsche Bank is just a hair away from breaching the limits. And there’s a lot of nail-biting.

For example, its 6% euro CoCo bonds had been beaten down to a record low of 85.5 cents on the euro by January 21, from a 52-week high in April last year of 102.11, and down from their peak in early 2014 of 104, shortly after they’d been issued.

Meanwhile, it’s not clear what policy changes, if any, will save the day:

A Wounded Deutsche Bank Lashes Out At Central Bankers: Stop Easing, You Are Crushing Us

(Zero Hedge) – Ten days ago, when Deutsche Bank stock was about 10% higher, the biggest German commercial bank declared war on Mario Draghi, as we put it, warning him that any further easing by the ECB would only push stocks (with an emphasis on DB stock which has gotten pummeled over the past few months) lower. What it got, instead, was a slap in the face in the form of a major new easing program when the Bank of Japan announced it is unveiling negative rates just three days later.Which is why overnight a badly wounded Deutsche Bank has expanded its war against the ECB to include the BOJ as well, and in a note titled “The Risks From Further ECB and BOJ Easing” said the benefits to risk assets from further easing no longer exist, and in fact the “impact has been exactly the opposite.”

In other words, we have reached that fork in the road within the monetary twilight zone, where Europe’s largest bank is openly defying central bank policy and demanding an end to easy money. Alas, since tighter monetary policy assures just as much if not more pain, one can’t help but wonder just how the central banks get themselves out of this particular trap they set up for themselves.

The Zero Hedge article is long and a bit technical but well worth the effort for anyone who wants to understand the bind in which big banks — and their central bank benefactors — find themselves. To sum up: the current situation is untenable, easier money will make things worse, and tighter money will make things a lot worse.

This article is written by John Rubino of Dollarcollapse.com and with his kind permission, Gecko Research has been privileged to publish his work on our website. To find out more about Dollarcollapse.com, please visit:

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John Rubino: Perfect Storm!

By John Rubino, Jan 7, 2016

One of the (many) fascinating things about this latest global financial crisis is that there’s no single catalyst. Unlike 2008 when the carnage could be traced back to US subprime housing, or 2000 when tech stocks crashed and pulled down everything else, this time around a whole bunch of seemingly-unrelated things are unraveling all at once.

China’s mal-investment binge is crashing global commodities, an overvalued dollar is crushing emerging markets (most recently forcing China to devalue), the pan-Islamic war has suddenly gone from simmer to boil, grossly-overvalued equities pretty much everywhere are getting a long-overdue correction, developed-world political systems are being upended as voters lose faith in mainstream parties to deal with inequality, corporate power, entitlements, immigration, really pretty much everything. For one amusing/amazing example of the latter problem, consider Germany’s response to the mobs of men that suddenly materialized and began molesting women: Cologne mayor slammed after telling German women to keep would-be rapists at arm’s length.

Why do causes matter at times like this? Because where previous crises were “solved” with a relatively simple dose of hyper-easy money, it’s not clear that today’s diverse array of emerging threats can be addressed in the same way. Interest rates, for instance, were high by current standards at the beginning of past crises, which gave central banks plenty of leeway to comfort the afflicted with big rate cut announcements. Today rates are near zero in most places and negative in many. Cutting from here would be an experiment to put it mildly, one with an uncertain outcome and myriad possible unintended consequences including a flight to cash that empties banks of deposits and a destabilizing spike in wealth inequality as negative interest rates support asset prices for the already-rich while driving down incomes for savers and retirees.

And with debt now $57 trillion higher worldwide than in 2008, it’s not at all clear that another borrowing binge will be greeted with enthusiasm by the world’s bond markets, currency traders or entrepreneurs. Here’s that now-famous chart from McKinsey:

Global debt McKinsey

Easier money will have no effect on the supply/demand imbalance in the oil market, which is still growing. The likely result: Sharply lower prices in the year ahead, leading to a wave of defaults for trillions of dollars of energy-related junk bonds and derivatives.

As for stock prices, in the previous two crises equities plunged almost overnight to levels that made buying reasonable for the remaining smart money. Today, virtually every major equity index is still high by historical standards, so the necessary crash is still to come — and will add to global turmoil as it unfolds.

The upshot? It really is different this time, in a very bad way. And this fact is just now dawning on millions of leveraged speculators, mutual fund and pension fund managers, individual investors and central bank managers. Right this minute virtually all of them are staring at screens, scrolling over to the sell button, hesitating, pulling up Bloomberg screens showing how much they’ve lost in the past few days, calling analysts who last year convinced them to load up on Apple and Facebook, getting no answer, going back to Bloomberg and then fondling the sell button some more. Think of it as financial collapse OCD.

What happens next? At some point — today or next week or next month, but probably pretty soon — the dam will break. Everyone will hit “sell” at the same time and find out that those liquid markets they’d come to see as normal have disappeared and yesterday’s prices are meaningless fantasy. The exits will slam shut and — as in China last night where the markets closed a quarter-hour into the trading session — the whole world will be stuck with the positions they created back when markets were liquid and central banks were omnipotent and government bonds were risk-free and Amazon was going to $2,000.

And one thought will appear in all those minds: Why didn’t I load up on gold when I had the chance?

This article is written by John Rubino of Dollarcollapse.com and with his kind permission, Gecko Research has been privileged to publish his work on our website. To find out more about Dollarcollapse.com, please visit:

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