Thursday, February 25, 2010

China May Post Trade Deficits

It is currently being forecasted that China could potentially post trade deficits over the next six months as export recovery is weak while import growth remains strong and intact. China's ministry spokesman, Yao Jian, stated that it is believed that exports will not regain their potential growth momentum for another 2 to 3 years.

Yao has also urged that the U.S. reduce "protectionist" measures, so as to be able to increase Chinese exports.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

GM to Shut Down Hummer

GM is planning to wind down Hummer after the failed deal to sell the SUV line to China's Sichuan TengZhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. It is reported that Beijing rejected TengZhong's bid on Tuesday, 2/23.

GM will continue to honor warranties for current Hummer owners.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Energy M&A Activity in 2009

Energy M&A reached $150 billion in 2009, levels that were not reached since 2006. National oil companies accounted for 17% of M&A in 2009. China accounted for around 10% of the activity.

Predictions for the 2010 M&A Market

It is believed that 2010 will be a good year for cross-border M&A as the global economy begins to recover and financing for deals becomes more readily available.

Markets that will supposedly have higher rates of M&A are telecommnications, food and beverages and utilities including renewable energy. Companies in slower-growing industrialized nations should see a great increase in deals.

It is likely that India and China will be among the most active countries pursuing acquistions this year.

Consumer Confidence Fragile

Consumer confidence in the U.S. economy has dropped to a 46 in February from a 56.5 in January. Not only did consumer confidence drop but the reading is far below what is considered solid ground. A reading of 90 is typically considered as a strong footing for consumer confidence, so recent readings have been well below par.

Taiwan's GDP Soars

Taiwan's economy grew at an annualized rate of 18% during the 4th quarter of 2009, fueled by China's demand for hi-tech products. The Taiwanese growth was much better than had been predicted, especially after following an 8.25% growth between July and October.

Despite the strong growth, Taiwan is very cautious about the durability of the growth. Taiwan relies on export growth and although there is a definite high demand from China, European and US demand has become pretty weak so in respect to the EU and US, the Taiwanese government will remain cautious in regards to the nation's growth.

Banks Profit but "Problem" Banks Increase

Overall, during the fourth quarter of 2009, American banks managed a small profit of $914 million but the number of troubled banks increased to 702.

The $914 million profit is a great increase from the 4th quarter of 2008 when banks reported a $37.8 billion loss and overall banks earned $12.5 billion in 2009 as compared to $4.5 billion in 2008.

Unfortunately, despite the increase in profit the number on the FDIC's potential problem bank increased to 702 from 552 from the third quarter of 2009.

Friday, February 19, 2010

U.S. Faces Emerging Economic Challenges

The U.S. recovery was tentative to begin with, but now prospects are looking a little bit worse; European turmoil and Chinese belt-tightening are jeopardizing the recovery. Europe's economy is uncertain due to concerns over Greek's elevated public debt; which could indirectly hurt the U.S. growth prospects as it would increase the U.S. dollar but damage the U.S's export market. U.S growth also hinders on trade with China; and China, in an effort to prevent inflation and its own housing bubble may be purposely halting its expansion; once again damaging American recovery hopes. It seems the U.S. may need to find a new way if it hopes to recover fully.

China May Revalue the Yuan

China needs to do something to slow down their quickly growing economy so as to deal with the consquences of inflation; that something may be the revaluation of the Yuan. Goldman Sachs believes that China could possibly allow the RMB to strengthen by as much as 5%.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

China's Trains Steal Airlines' Customers

China's bullet trains are making it very difficult for airlines in stay afloat along certain routes. The trains travel at speeds of 217 mph, which is forcing airlines to cut prices for flights up to 80%, which may eventually force airlines to cut these routes entirely. The evolution of trains will most certainly lead to much harder times for the airline industry.

E.U. Considers Lifting Arms Embargo on China

Recently, in the hope of appeasing China, the E.U. has been considering lifting the arms embargo it placed on the nation in 1989 after the Tiananmen Square protests. The E.U. considers that lifting the 20-year-old embargo would be of great significance to the Chinese government, especially now that China is furious that the U.S. has decided to sell Taiwan $6.4 billion worth of arms. China, however, feels that lifting the embargo is nothing more than a symbolic gesture, signaling the E.U.'s acceptance of China as an equal player on the world stage.

Lifting such a ban would not be a simple thing to do though, as a strong resistance is already developing. Many countries are worried about China's behavior towards Taiwan and are reluctant to get involved in a potential arms race; others worry about the fact that China is still providing weapons to violent nations like Zimbabwe and Sudan, who continue to commit or support violence against civilians; more are worried that dropping the embargo would raise tensions with the United States; others feel that Europe is deluding itself to believe that China will accept them as an equal partner and probably will just continue to probe the E.U. for weaknesses that it can play up. China has long noticed problems between the E.U. nations and tried to exacerbate them, and many realize that if the E.U. can move forward it has to have a united front, otherwise China can and will best them; a dangerous proposition.

The proposal was brought up by the current Spanish presidency which lasts until July 1st. It will be interesting to see if the nations can unite on one front by then.

Friday, February 5, 2010

January a Good Month for Employment

Almost surprisingly, the U.S. economy may have added jobs for the second time in three months, in January. Payrolls apparently rose by 15,000 workers in January after having fallen by 85,000 in December. Some companies like Cisco Systems are planning to increase their staff as businesses update equipment and stimulus plans revive sales.

Manufacturing as well has been expanding, driving up the economy and its recovery, hopefully resulting in more factory jobs. It is expected that manufacturing payrolls will have dropped by 20,000 in January, which is the lowest its been since December 2007.

Death of U.S. Manufacturing to Bring U.S. Downfall?

Lynn Tilton, the CEO of Patriarch Partners, believes that if manufacturing in the United States dies, the nation will go down with it. Although many think of the United States as being based on the service industry Tilton mentions in an interview with TechTicker that most empires have fallen due in part to the death of the nations' manufacturing. She notes that U.S. manufacturing makes up 12% of the United States' economy and that many people in that industry are not able or meant to work in the service industry, therefore a manufacturing downfall would lead to the unemployment of many more millions of Americans, which will ultimately harm the rest/all of us.

Tilton has noted that it will be extremely hard to convince manufacturers to stay in the United States, especially when they can go to a third world nation for much cheaper, but she adamantly tells that it can be done with a little innovation. Hopefully companies will heed her words and try to keep manufacturing in the U.S.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Recession Leads to Radical U.S. Manufactuting Shifts

In the wake of the global economic recession manufacturers are beginning to restructure their businesses. Moves are accelerating the United States' manufacturing economy's long-term shrinkage. Manufacturing is now moving away from heavy sectors like cars and basic chemicals towards higher-tech products like computer chips. Car manufacturers in particular are shutting down facilities or investing in smaller, more-efficient facilities; chemical makers are moving their labor-intensive operations to countries with lower wages. As a result of the shifting, economists are expecting that unemployment will remain high for the next several years.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

China Developing New Foreign Policy

As a rising superpower, China is branching out its foreign relations policies to unexpected places. China recently promised a $1billion loan to the former Soviet state of Moldova, a nation that is poorer than most African countries. The $1billion loan is the equivalent of one tenth of Moldova's GDP.

It is an interesting place to be investing such a large sum of money into, as on the surface it doesn't seem to have all that much to offer. What the country does have though adds up to enough reason for China to take interest. Moldova sits up in the top half of nations ranked for information technology potential by the World Economic Forum; China sees that by giving loans to nations such as Moldova they gain a substancial amount of global influence, especially pertaining to Russia. By building substancial influence in the nations surrounding Russia the Chinese are able to gain leverage in negotiations with Moscow, something of great importance to the Chinese because of China's dependency on Russian oil.

China could also focus on Moldova's agriculture, wine and textile sectors. These sectors and the country's comparatively low wages have already attracted a series of European manufacturing companies. It is also highly unlikely that the nation will ever join the EU due to weak governance.

It appears that China could gain from investing heavily in this tiny nation.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Shell Sells Nigerian Oil Blocks to Local Companies

The Nigerian joint venture capital company that is owned by Shell agreed on Friday to sell its interest in three oil production licenses to a group of local Nigerian companies. The deal shows that Shell is starting to shift its focus away from Nigeria. The facilities have been shut down since 2008 and the 30 wells in question have a production capacity of approximately 50,000 barrels of oil.

The deal is subject to the approval of the Nigerian government.

EU Won't Imitate U.S. Bank Plan

President Obama recently outlined a series of proposals that could ultimately rewrite the world financial order by limiting banks' size and trading activities by preventing banks from investing in, owning or sponsoring a hedge fund or a private equity fund. Although the EU approves and supports the President's ideas they made it clear that the EU will not be following suit as it aims to reduce risk in the sector through other means. The EU has yet to make a plan for big banks' known.