Fed Keeps $85 Billion QE Pace Awaiting Signs Economy Picks Up
By Joshua Zumbrun & Jeff Kearns - Oct 30, 2013 12:59 PM CT
The Federal Reserve decided to press on with $85 billion in monthly bond purchases, saying it needs to see more evidence that the economy will continue to improve.
“The recovery in the housing sector slowed somewhat in recent months,” the Federal Open Market Committee (FDTR) said today at the end of a two-day meeting in Washington. “Fiscal policy is restraining economic growth.”
Ben S. Bernanke is pushing unprecedented accommodation into the final months of his Fed chairmanship as he seeks to shield the four-year economic expansion from the impact of higher borrowing costs and this month’s partial U.S. government shutdown. The 16-day closing resulted in the furloughs of as many as 800,000 federal workers and delayed release of data the Fed says it needs to evaluate the economy.
“Taking into account the extent of federal fiscal retrenchment over the past year, the committee sees the improvement in economic activity and labor market conditions since it began its asset purchase program as consistent with growing underlying strength in the broader economy,” the committee said. The Fed repeated that it will “await more evidence that progress will be sustained before adjusting the pace of its purchases.”
The Fed’s purchases will remain divided between $40 billion a month of mortgage bonds and $45 billion in Treasury securities.
The central bank left unchanged its statement that it will probably hold its target interest rate near zero “at least as long as” unemployment exceeds 6.5 percent, so long as the outlook for inflation is no higher than 2.5 percent.
The Fed repeated that inflation “has been running below the committee’s longer-run objective but longer term inflation expectations have remained stable.”
Price gains have lagged below the committee’s 2 percent long-run target. The cost of living rose as projected in September as fuel charges climbed, capping the smallest year-to-year gain in five months.
The consumer price index increased 0.2 percent after rising 0.1 percent the prior month, a Labor Department report showed today. The Fed’s preferred gauge of inflation, the personal consumption expenditures index, rose 1.2 percent in August and hasn’t breached 2 percent since March 2012.
The Fed removed a sentence from the previous statement that had said tighter financial conditions could slow the improvement in the economy. Kansas City Fed President Esther George dissented for the seventh meeting in a row, citing the risk the Fed’s stimulus could create financial imbalances and cause long-term inflation expectations to rise.
Economists forecast no change to the Fed’s bond buying today. The FOMC won’t reduce the pace of purchases until its March 18-19 meeting, according to the median estimate of an Oct. 17-18 Bloomberg News survey.
President Barack Obama has nominated Vice Chairman Janet Yellen to succeed Bernanke, whose term expires on Jan. 31. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Yellen would take on the challenge of dialing down so-called quantitative easing and withdrawing stimulus while maintaining growth.
Central bankers are waiting to see how the economy weathered the budget impasse and debt-limit debate earlier this month. The shutdown reduced growth by 0.3 percentage point this quarter, according to the median estimate in an Oct. 17-18 Bloomberg survey, as businesses from Capitol Hill eateries to Florida Everglades charter boats lost customers while workers were furloughed and national parks were closed.
Some data measuring the strength of the economy in the months before the shutdown still hasn’t been released, and delays to other reports may distort the figures, according to economists. A report on economic growth in the third quarter, originally scheduled for release today, was postponed until Nov. 7.
“The quality of the data may be suspect because of disruption to the normal survey routines,” said Dana Saporta, a director of U.S. economics research at Credit Suisse Group AG in New York.
“When we look back on this quarter in the future, we might not see much evidence of the government shutdown in the aggregate data,” she said. “But we don’t know that, and it will be several weeks before we can analyze the impact of the shutdown and debt-ceiling debate.”
Some private reports and delayed government indicators for September showed the economy was having trouble accelerating prior to the shutdown.
Employers in the U.S. added 148,000 jobs last month, down from 193,000 in August. Factory output rose less than forecast, and existing-home sales fell for the first time in three months as rising prices and mortgage rates damped demand.
At the same time, American consumers kept spending on most types of goods last month, a Commerce Department report showed yesterday. Sales at retailers excluding auto dealers rose 0.4 percent after a 0.1 percent increase the prior month.
The government shutdown took a toll on consumer and business confidence in October, recent reports suggest. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort (COMFCOMF) Index sank to the lowest level in eight months in the week ended Oct. 20.
Companies this month added fewer workers than projected, a private report based on payrolls showed today. The 130,000 increase was the smallest in six months and followed a revised 145,000 gain in September that was weaker than initially estimated, according to the ADP Research Institute in Roseland, New Jersey.
The monthly figures are the first to show how employment fared during the government suspension. Limited employment and wage gains, along with the prospect of another fiscal battle early next year, raise the risk of restrained retail sales during the holidays.
Still, gains in stock prices and home values are shoring up household balance sheets. Equities have rallied, pushing the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) to records, on rising corporate profits and expectations that the Fed will maintain stimulus.
General Electric Co. is among companies beating analyst estimates. GE, the conglomerate that is the world’s largest maker of jet engines and diesel locomotives, said Oct. 18 that profit margins on its industrial businesses grew 1.2 percentage points as orders climbed in China, sub-Saharan Africa and Russia.
“Our third-quarter results were very strong in an improving global business environment,” Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt said in a statement. “Our industrial strength was broad-based.”
The Fed unexpectedly refrained from tapering at its meeting last month, seeking more evidence the economy is strengthening. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg before the gathering predicted the Fed would begin reducing the pace of purchases. Fed Governors Jerome Powell and Jeremy Stein both characterized the September decision as a “close call.” The Fed cited the risk that higher interest rates could slow the economy.
Borrowing costs have since declined. The yield on the 10-year Treasury (USGG10YR) note fell to 2.49 percent late yesterday from as high as 3.01 percent on Sept. 5. The average 30-year mortgage rate fell to 4.13 percent last week from as high as 4.58 percent in August.
“There are some question marks about growth in the U.S. economy,” said Nathan Sheets, the global head of international economics at Citigroup Inc. in New York and a former top economist at the Fed board. “The Fed is inclined to watch and wait until they’re comfortable that we’ve seen a meaningful rebound.”
To contact the reporters on this story: Joshua Zumbrun in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org Jeff Kearns in Washington at email@example.com;
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at firstname.lastname@example.org
China Signals ‘Unprecedented’ Policy Changes on Agenda at Plenum
By Bloomberg News - Oct 27, 2013 11:01 AM CT
Chinese Politburo member Yu Zhengsheng said reforms to be discussed at a Communist Party meeting next month will be unprecedented, adding to signs that leaders are resolved to spur far-reaching policy changes.
Yu’s comments, made in a speech at a forum to promote relations with Taiwan, were reported by the official Xinhua News Agency on Oct. 26. Yu is ranked fourth in the seven-strong Politburo Standing Committee headed by party chief and President Xi Jinping.
Premier Li Keqiang has pledged to cut the state’s role in the economy, change the financial and fiscal systems, and overhaul land and household registration rules to sustain growth. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News this month said policies flowing from the meeting, called the third plenum, will reduce the odds of a severe slowdown and help China become a high-income country by 2030.
The meeting “will focus on studying comprehensive and deep reform,” Yu was quoted as saying in Xinhua’s report. “The depth and strength of the reforms will be unprecedented and will promote profound changes in every area of the economy and society.” The report didn’t refer to any policies or measures.
Yu’s remarks follow comments Xi made to foreign business executives last week that “comprehensive reforms” would be “planned out” during the plenum, according to an English-language Xinhua report on Oct. 23 that didn’t specify any policies. Dates for the meeting haven’t been announced.
“We must properly handle the relations between reform, development and stability, and with greater political courage and wisdom, further open our minds, unleash and develop social productivity, and enhance the creative forces of the society,” Xi was quoted as saying.
Next month’s gathering will be the third full meeting, or plenum, of the party’s current Central Committee, including Xi, Li, ministers and the heads of the biggest state firms and banks, who took over in a once-a-decade power transition that started in late 2012. Thirty-five years ago, a similar Communist Party gathering saw Deng Xiaoping and his allies inaugurate a series of reforms that began to open up China to foreign investment and loosen state controls over the economy.
“I don’t expect to see concrete measures announced at the meeting, but I do expect to see concrete setting of a clear direction and objectives,” said Louis Kuijs, chief China economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Plc in Hong Kong who previously worked for the World Bank in Beijing. “It’s clear that in the financial and monetary areas there’s a full mandate to move ahead, but so far we haven’t had the same signals in other key areas of reform.”
The government has already made progress in areas including cutting regulation, “but that’s low hanging fruit,” Kuijs said. “Some recent statements, such as on the fiscal front, seem to indicate it’s going to be pretty tame.”
China has pared its growth ambitions, targeting annual expansion of 7 percent this decade, compared with the 10.5 percent average pace of the last 10 years.
Bloomberg’s survey of analysts conducted from Oct. 11 to Oct. 18 indicated that the odds of a severe slowdown in China or a credit crisis will fall after the summit as leaders tackle local-government debt and financial reforms.
Fifteen of 23 economists and political analysts said policies flowing from the meeting will reduce such risks, and a majority said the plans will help China become a high-income economy by 2030.
Asked which reforms are most needed now and most likely in the next 12 months, survey respondents ranked changes in financial markets and local-government funding as both most urgent and probable. Expectations were lower for reforms to the residence-registration or hukou system, which limits labor mobility, the rule of law and state-owned enterprises.
To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Wenxin Fan in Shanghai at email@example.com; Nerys Avery in Beijing at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Capital Goods Orders in U.S. Unexpectedly Declined in September
By Jeanna Smialek - Oct 25, 2013 7:59 AM CT
Orders (DGNOXTCH) for U.S. equipment such as computers and machinery unexpectedly declined in September for the second time in three months, indicating business spending was weakening ahead of the partial government shutdown.
Bookings for non-military capital goods excluding aircraft decreased 1.1 percent, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for a 1 percent gain. A surge in aircraft demand led to a 3.7 percent jump in total durable orders.
Durable Goods Orders Increase on Aircraft Demand
Oct. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Orders for U.S. durable goods rose in September by the most in three months as stronger demand for commercial and military aircraft outweighed a drop in business equipment. Michael McKee reports on Bloomberg Television's "In The Loop." (Source: Bloomberg)
“The more you look into it, the more disappointing it gets,” said Tim Quinlan, an economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina. “It kind of raises doubts about the sustainability of the manufacturing sector to continue to underpin economic growth.”
Faster growth in manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the economy, depends on how quickly confidence is restored in the aftermath of a budget battle that shut down the government for half of this month. Results from Ford Motor Co. (F) and Whirlpool Corp. (WHR) show stronger domestic auto and housing markets remain sources of strength for the expansion.
Stock-index futures were little changed after the figures, with the contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in December falling less than 0.1 percent to 1,748 at 8:51 a.m. in New York.
Orders excluding transportation equipment, where demand is often volatile month to month, fell 0.1 percent after a 0.4 percent decrease in August.
Forecasts for total durable goods orders in the Bloomberg survey of economists ranged from a 0.3 percent decline to a 7.5 percent increase. Demand rose 0.2 percent in August.
Demand for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft decreased in September after a 0.4 percent gain in August and a 3.5 percent slump in July. Such orders are considered a proxy for future business investment in computers, electronics and other equipment.
Shipments of those products, a measure used to calculate gross domestic product, fell 0.2 percent in September after rising 1.1 percent the prior month. Sales were down 2.9 percent over the past three months at an annualized rate, compared with a 0.9 percent decline at the end of the second quarter.
Caterpillar Inc. (CAT), the biggest maker of construction and mining equipment, cut its 2013 sales and profit forecast this week after a slump in orders from commodity producers.
“There are encouraging signs, but there is also a good deal of uncertainty worldwide as we look ahead to 2014,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman said in a statement.
Today’s report showed bookings for commercial aircraft increased 57.5 percent in September after a 5.4 percent gain. Chicago-based Boeing Co. said it received 127 aircraft orders in September, up from 16 the previous month.
Orders for military aircraft and parts rose 15.2 percent after an 11.5 percent decrease, today’s report showed.
Demand for motor vehicles has also been a bright spot for manufacturers, with cars and light trucks selling at a 15.2 million annualized rate in September after climbing in August to the fastest annualized pace since 2007, figures from Ward’s Automotive Group showed.
“The vehicle fleet has aged, so really vehicle assembly has nowhere to go but up,” said Mike Englund, chief economist at Action Economics LLC in Boulder, Colorado, adding that Boeing, the world’s largest planemaker, is also looking at “a bottomless pit of orders.”
Ford earned a $2.3 billion profit in North America in the third quarter and raised its forecasts for pretax profit and operating margin for the full year. The Dearborn, Michigan-based company said yesterday its automotive sales rose 12 percent to $33.9 billion. It also earned a rare profit on overseas operations on rising demand for Focus compact cars in China and B-Max vans in Europe.
Benton Harbor, Michigan-based Whirlpool is also seeing signs of stronger demand in some parts of the world, while progress in the U.S. housing market boosts demand for its washers and dryers.
“In North America, we are increasing our industry demand assumption to approximately 9 percent for the year as we continue to see positive trends in U.S. housing,” Chief Executive Officer Jeff Fettig said on an Oct. 22 earnings call. In Latin America, “we’re now seeing a pickup in demand and we expect that positive trend to continue during the fourth quarter.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Jeanna Smialek in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Economy · U.S. · Manufacturing
Carl Icahn Billionaire
Gross Says Icahn Should Leave Apple Alone and Help People
By Alexis Leondis - Oct 24, 2013 3:31 PM CT
Bill Gross, manager of the world’s largest mutual fund, said fellow billionaire investor Carl Icahn should stop pushing Apple Inc. (AAPL) for additional share buybacks.
“Icahn should leave Apple alone and spend more time like Bill Gates,” Gross, who runs the $250 billion Pimco Total Return Fund (PTTRX) at Pacific Investment Management Co. in Newport Beach, California, wrote in a message on Twitter today. “If Icahn’s so smart, use it to help people not yourself.”
Icahn, who has taken stakes and agitated for stockholder friendly changes at companies from Dell Inc. (DELL) to Transocean Ltd. (RIG), said in a Bloomberg Television interview yesterday with Trish Regan that Apple should buy back $150 billion of shares and criticized the board for not acting to enhance value. In backing Apple’s management, Gross joins Warren Buffett, who has said that companies shouldn’t be run primarily to please shareholders who may then sell.
Icahn is ranked 34th on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index of the world’s richest people, with a net worth of $21 billion. In 2012, he pledged $200 million to the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the biggest donation ever given to the New York City teaching hospital. He’s also endowed five charter schools in the city and has signed Buffett’s and Gates’s Giving Pledge, which encourages the world’s richest to give the majority of their wealth to charity.Gross’s Wealth
Gross’s personal wealth is estimated at $2 billion. The 69-year-old has endowed a foundation with $293 million in assets and raised money for Doctors Without Borders, a medical charity, by selling parts of his stamp collection. He gave $20 million to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center last year and $20 million to Mercy Ships, an international medical charity, in August.
Mark Porterfield, a spokesman for Pimco, confirmed the Twitter message was posted by Gross. He declined to comment on whether Gross has signed the giving pledge.
Gross’s Total Return Fund didn’t own any Apple bonds as of June 30, according to a regulatory filing. One of Pimco’s stock funds, EqS Pathfinder, had 23,059 shares of Apple as of June 30.Icahn’s Letter
In a letter to Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook published today, Icahn said he increased his holding in the company to 4.7 million shares worth $2.5 billion from 3.4 million shares in August, and added that he intends to buy more of the stock that he said is undervalued.
Icahn, 77, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message left with his office.
While Apple co-founder Steve Jobs resisted calls to return cash to shareholders, Cook has shown a willingness to meet investor demands. In February, hedge-fund manager David Einhorn called for Apple to give more cash back and later sued to get the company to increase shareholder returns. The move was opposed by two of the best-known advocates for shareholder rights, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and Institutional Shareholder Services.
In April, the Cupertino, California-based iPhone maker increased its payout and boosted its stock repurchase plan. Apple had $146.6 billion in cash and investments at the end of June.‘Hated’ Roosevelt
Buffett, in an interview on the CNBC television network broadcast this month, said he advised Apple a few years ago to use some of its cash to repurchase shares, though he doesn’t see a need for a larger share repurchase as demanded by Icahn.
“I do not think that companies should be run primarily to please Wall Street” and investors with a short-term perspective, Buffett said in the interview.
Investors who have weighed in on Apple include bond manager Jeffrey Gundlach, who runs the top performing DoubleLine Total Return Bond Fund. Last year, Gundlach told investors to bet against the shares before they started falling. During an interview on CNBC earlier this month, Gundlach said Apple was a “fairly safe” stock to own, yet doesn’t agree with people who say it’s a “no brainer” at $500 a share.
Apple gained 1.3 percent to $531.91 in New York. The stock is down 0.05 percent this year, compared with a 23 percent climb in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
Icahn has clashed with other investors before. He engaged in a fight with Pershing Square Capital Management LP’s Bill Ackman over Herbalife Ltd. (HLF), a maker of nutritional supplements, and opposed Michael Dell’s leveraged buyout deal of Dell Inc.
“Bill Gross certainly has a right to his opinion,” Icahn said today in an interview on CNBC. “Theodore Roosevelt took on the whole establishment and was a very hated man.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Leondis in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christian Baumgaertel at email@example.com
Abe Invokes Thatcherism as Reform Push Raises Disparity Risk
By Keiko Ujikane - Oct 21, 2013 2:39 AM CT
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe evokes the late Margaret Thatcher as he repeats “there is no alternative” to his platform of economic change. One of the byproducts: prospects for a Thatcherite division of wealth.
Tomoko Kawamura, 33, a pharmaceutical-company worker in Tokyo, bought a Louis Garneau bicycle costing about 50,000 yen ($510) and a MacBook Air laptop with proceeds from stock investments this year. She owns a one-bedroom apartment in Tokyo’s well-heeled Meguro district. Eight hundred kilometers (500 miles) to the southwest in Ehime prefecture, Miyoko Yamazaki, 81, is struggling to cover the rising cost of gasoline for her regular hospital trips.
Pedestrians walk through a shopping street in Okayama, Japan. Around a quarter of households with more than one person in Japan don’t hold financial assets such as savings, life insurance, bonds and stocks, according to a Bank of Japan survey conducted last year. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
Japan Should Focus on Medium-Term Growth, S&P Says5:26
Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Takahira Ogawa, Singapore-based director of sovereign ratings at Standard & Poor’s, talks about the outlook for Japan's economic growth and the government policies. He speaks with Rishaad Salamat on Bloomberg Television's "On the Move." (Source: Bloomberg)
Fujitsu's Schulz on Japan Economy, Policy3:57
Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Martin Schulz, a senior economist at Fujitsu Research Institute in Tokyo, talks about Japan's economy, government and central bank policies, and the yen. Exports in Japan increased less than expected in September, underscoring the challenge faced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his effort to boost growth. Schulz speaks with Susan Li on Bloomberg Television's "First Up." (Source: Bloomberg)
Enlarge image Commercial Buildings in Osaka
A man walks past commercial buildings in Osaka. Land prices as of July 1 in Japan’s three largest cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya rose for the first time in five years. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg
Office workers eat bento lunchboxes in Tokyo. Regular wages excluding overtime and bonuses fell 0.4 percent in August from a year earlier, extending the longest slide since 2010 to 15 months. Photographer: Robert Gilhooly/Bloomberg
“Prices are going up, making our lives tougher,” said Yamazaki, a retired taxi driver who doesn’t hold stocks or property. “I don’t really feel that the economy is booming.” In a restaurant on the 20th floor of a building with views over central Tokyo, Kawamura tells it differently: “I’m enjoying the benefits of Abenomics.”
The fortunes of Kawamura and Yamazaki exemplify the danger that Abenomics will impose social strains on an economy where the income gap between the richest 10 percent and the poorest is a less than a third that in the U.S. Pressure may rise for aid to the less fortunate, adding to the fiscal strain of a nation with the world’s largest debt burden.
“Abenomics, at least in its initial stage, is rewarding those who have assets, and the gap between the haves and the have-nots is widening,” said Soichi Okuda, chief economist at Sumitomo Shoji Research Institute, a think tank owned by Sumitomo Corp., Japan’s fourth-biggest trading house. “The fate of Abenomics, which aims to end deflation, will be determined by whether wages go up.”
Abe cited Thatcher in a speech in London in June, saying of his economic growth strategy: “There is no alternative,” a phrase the former U.K. prime minister used for her policies of monetarism, financial deregulation and restructuring of state industries in Britain in the 1980s.
Within seven years, Thatcherism had driven unemployment to a record of more than 3 million people and widened the gap between rich and poor. Yet her policies also reversed a sense of terminal decline, epitomized by the so-called winter of discontent in early 1979 when strikes by groups from teachers to rail workers plunged the country into crisis. Annual gross domestic product growth peaked at 6.6 percent in the first quarter of 1988.
While Thatcher gained power promising to quell inflation, Abe wants to stoke it. He’s trying to end a deflationary slump of more than 15 years through a mix of monetary and fiscal easing and measures to loosen industrial regulations to spark innovation. Even so, his policies may initially have a similar effect on wealth distribution.
“Abenomics could open up disparities in Japan,” said Seki Obata, an associate professor at Japan’s top-ranking Keio Business School in Yokohama. “Boosting stock and real-estate prices could widen the imbalance.”
Deepening disparities would mar a society that’s prided itself on homogeneity. Abe in June highlighted the observations a century and a half ago of Townsend Harris, citing the diary of the first U.S. ambassador to Japan: “They are all fat, well clad, and happy looking, but there is an equal absence of any appearance of wealth or of poverty -- a state of things that may perhaps constitute the real happiness of a people.”
Around a quarter of households with more than one person don’t hold financial assets, according to a Bank of Japan survey conducted last year.
Real disposable income for a typical family of four -- a company employee with annual earnings of 5 million yen, a full-time housewife and two children, will drop to 4.03 million yen in 2016, about 4 percent lower than now, according to Shungo Koreeda, a researcher at Daiwa Institute of Research Ltd. The calculation takes into account the plan to increase the sales tax to 8 percent in April from 5 percent, followed by a further increase to 10 percent in 2015.
The average income of Japan’s richest 10 percent is 4.5-times higher than that of the lowest decile, compared with 15.9-times in the U.S. and 13.8 times in the U.K., according to the United Nations’ 2008 Human Development Report.
Abenomics: Japan's Economic Therapy Explained
Japan’s Gini coefficient of 0.336 is lower than that for the U.K. and the U.S., which are 0.341 and 0.38, respectively, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The gauge of income inequality ranges from 0, for perfect equality, to 1, which implies one person holds all of a nation’s wealth.
As part of the reflationary push, BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda committed to double the money circulating in the economy to help drive 2 percent inflation within about two years. Kuroda pledged again today to continue easing until the goal is achieved.
Boosting asset prices is one of the channels through which the central bank hopes to induce price rises. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average has risen about 40 percent this year, while the yen has weakened about 11 percent against the dollar -- helping exporters and pushing up import costs. Overseas shipments rose a less-than-estimated 11.5 percent in September, a government report showed today.
Consumer prices, excluding fresh food, increased 0.8 percent in August from a year earlier, the fastest pace since November 2008. Core prices are forecast to rise 2.78 percent in the fiscal year starting in April 2014, according to the median estimate of 41 economists surveyed by the Japan Center for Economic Research. The leap in the projections stems from the sales tax increase.
“The sales-tax will probably have a severe impact on low-income families with a lot of children and pensioners who don’t own a house or assets,” said Koreeda at Daiwa Institute. “It will be necessary to provide support for those people.”
For Yamazaki, who has to drive about 150 kilometers a month to see doctors, rising costs are already eating into her pension. Gasoline prices rose last month to the highest level since 2008, government data show.
Mos Food Services Inc., said last month it would raise the price of hamburgers at its Mos Burger restaurants for the first time in five years. Yakult Honsha Co., a maker of fermented milk products, said on Sept. 10 it would replace one of its drinks with a new version that costs 14 percent more -- its first price increase in 22 years. Sake-maker Nihon Sakari Co. announced in August the first price increase for its version of the national tipple in 19 years.
For property owners in the major cities, as in Thatcher’s Britain, the gains are boosting wealth. Land prices as of July 1 in Japan’s three largest cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya rose for the first time in five years.
“Looking at the office building market in central Tokyo, I feel that Abenomics is taking off and the economy is picking up,” said Sachiko Wakabayashi, 23, who works for a real estate agent in Tokyo.
The BOJ today raised its assessment of all nine of the nation’s regional economies.
In rural areas, land prices will keep falling as the population dwindles, said Takashi Ishizawa, chief real estate analyst at Mizuho Securities Co. in Tokyo. Prices will continue to rise in the larger cities where rents will also begin to climb next year, he said.
Salaries have yet to catch up. Regular wages excluding overtime and bonuses fell 0.6 percent in August from a year earlier, extending the longest slide since 2010 to 15 months.
It isn’t just pensioners feeling the pinch. Since graduating from university in 2011, 26-year-old Manabu Yokoyama hasn’t been able to find a permanent position.
“They say that the economy is improving under Abenomics, but I’m not feeling any benefit,” said Yokoyama at a Hello Work job center in central Tokyo. Since leaving college he’s only found part-time work at a fruit-processing factory and other places.
Kawamura has also seen her pay trimmed, but the stocks she bought in department-store operator Marui Group Co. and CMIC Holdings Co., a medical research service provider, made up for it by more than doubling in a year.
“Profits from stock investment are sort of making up for the decline in my bonus,” Kawamura said. “About 80 or 90 percent of my money is in bank savings, but I want to increase my investment in stocks.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Keiko Ujikane in Tokyo at firstname.lastname@example.org
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後ろの下院議員が共和党代表のジョン・べーナー。上院の合意を受けたべーナーは、「上院案を否定することはない」と明言した。これにて、１６日間続いたシャットダウンは、１月１５日の再協議まで普通に戻る。国債上限は、２月７日を期限として、再協議する。ああ、良かった、良かったというしかない。伊勢 ルイジアナCongress to Vote on Fiscal Deal as Boehner Concedes Loss
By Richard Rubin, Kathleen Hunter & Roxana Tiron - Oct 16, 2013 2:44 PM CT
Congress is poised to end the 16-day government shutdown and raise the U.S. debt limit after the bipartisan leaders of the U.S. Senate reached an agreement to end the nation’s fiscal impasse.
The Senate and House plan to vote on the deal later today, and the White House press secretary said President Barack Obama supports the deal.
“We fought the good fight,” House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, said today on WLW, a radio station in his home state of Ohio. “We just didn’t win.”
Boehner said in a statement that Republicans won’t block the Senate compromise.
The agreement concludes a four-week fiscal standoff that began with Republicans demanding defunding of Obama’s 2010 health-care law and objecting to raising the debt limit and funding the government without attaching policy conditions. They achieved almost none of those goals in this agreement.
“This is far less than many of us had hoped for, frankly, but it’s far better than what some had sought,” said Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, who said the measure retains Republican-preferred spending levels.
The framework negotiated by Majority Leader Harry Reid and McConnell would fund the government at those Republican-backed levels through Jan. 15, 2014, and suspend the debt limit until Feb. 7, setting up another round of confrontations then.
“This agreement achieves what is necessary,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary.House Republicans
The Senate accord was unveiled a day after Fitch Ratings put the U.S. AAA credit grade on ratings watch negative, citing the government’s inability to raise the debt ceiling in a timely manner, according to a statement after markets in New York closed.
U.S. stocks rallied, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index toward a record. The benchmark index rose 1.1 percent to 1,717.58 at 2:41 p.m. in New York after sliding 0.7 percent yesterday.
Rates on Treasury bills maturing in the next six weeks fell amid optimism lawmakers worked to resolve the fiscal impasse. Rates on $120 billion of bills maturing tomorrow dropped to 0.03 percent after rising as high as 0.36 percent yesterday.
One-month rates fell 21 basis points, or 0.21 percentage point, to 0.14 percent at 2:46 p.m. in New York after touching 0.45 percent, the highest since October 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The benchmark 10-year yield fell five basis points to 2.68 percent, according to Bloomberg Bond Trader data.Economic ‘Stability’
“The compromise we reached will provide our economy with the stability it desperately needs,” Reid said.
The partial shutdown has closed national parks, slowed clinical drug trials and led to the furlough of thousands of federal workers. The Senate proposal would provide back pay for furloughed workers, said a Democratic aide speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country’s largest business group, supports the agreement. Several small-government groups, including the Club for Growth, are urging lawmakers to vote against the accord.
The Senate probably will vote before the House, said a House aide speaking on condition of anonymity because the plans aren’t set.Republicans Meet
House Republicans met for about 30 minutes and members, including Boehner, didn’t speak to reporters as they left the session.
Under the Senate agreement, House Republicans would get almost none of their priorities.
“If there is a silver lining in this cloud, it’s that hopefully this debacle means that the power of those that favor confrontation has peaked,” Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, said in a statement.
Republicans persisted after the partial government shutdown started Oct. 1 and saw their approval ratings drop in polls. Hardliners resisted plans that didn’t make major changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Obama has described those requests for health-law changes as unacceptable ransom demands and insisted that Republicans relent.
Senator Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican, questioned some other Republicans’ approach to the health law.‘Cannot Succeed’
“If they’re saying the defunding issue is going to come up again in three months, then they’ve learned nothing from this,” she said. “If we learned nothing else from this exercise, I hope we learned that we shouldn’t get behind a strategy that cannot succeed.”
Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who spoke against the health law for 21 hours last month, said he will continue to fight to make “Washington respond to the very real harms that Obamacare is causing.” He said he wouldn’t delay a Senate vote.
Some House Republicans said they wouldn’t vote for the Senate agreement.
“The Senate plan is not what I support,” Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio told reporters today. “My preference is that we address the underlying problem, which is we have a $17 trillion debt and we deal with the deficit problem and we treat people fairly under Obamacare.”
The Senate agreement trades the pressing and already-missed deadlines for new ones over the next four months. The Treasury Department would be allowed to use so-called extraordinary measures to delay default for about another month beyond Feb. 7, said a Senate Democratic aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan.Health Law
The accord includes a Republican-backed provision to tighten income-verification requirements for people receiving health-insurance subsidies, said two Senate Democratic aides who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan. The agreement won’t include a health-law provision backed by Democrats and labor unions that would delay a reinsurance fee on group health plans, the aides said.
Carney said the income-verification provision wasn’t a ransom.
Unless Congress acts, U.S. borrowing authority will lapse at the end of tomorrow, leaving the Treasury Department with only $30 billion in cash and incoming revenues to make promised payments. Without action, the U.S. will begin missing payments between Oct. 22 and Oct. 31, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Boehner tried several times over the past month to construct a debt-limit bill that House Republicans could support, and he hasn’t brought any proposals to a vote. Republicans didn’t have enough support for the measure yesterday, said a leadership aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss vote counting.
Unlike previous stopgap spending measures, the final House bill wouldn’t have made big changes to the 2010 health-care law, and it contains no cuts to entitlement programs that Republicans sought to add to a debt-limit increase or spending bill.
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Gross Buying Bonds Tops Boehner’s Default Warning
Why the Market Is Not Afraid of a U.S. Default
U.S. financial conditions held at about the highest levels since before the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression as debt investors brushed off House Speaker John Boehner’s warning that America is on a “path” to defaulting on its debts.
While the Bloomberg U.S. Financial Conditions Index (BFCIUS) fell 0.08 to 1.2, that’s above the average of 1.11 this year and compares with the high in 2007 of 1.266. The gauge measures stress in the markets by combining everything from money-market rates to yields on government and corporate bonds to volatility in equities. During the debt-ceiling debate of August 2011, the index fell as low as negative 1.631.
Investors should buy three-, four- and five-year Treasuries and inflation-protected securities, Bill Gross, co-chief investment officer of Pacific Investment Management Co., said on Bloomberg Television on Oct. 1.
Pimco's Gross on U.S. Shutdown, Debt Ceiling
Oct. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Bill Gross, co-chief investment officer at Pacific Investment Management Co., talks about the impact of the U.S. government shutdown on the nation's economy and risks to U.S. Treasuries should the federal government default on its debt.
Pacific Investment Management Co. Co-Chief Investment Officer Bill Gross and BlackRock Inc. (BLK) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Laurence D. Fink, who oversee $5.76 trillion, dismiss the possibility of a default. Boehner said that may happen if President Barack Obama doesn’t negotiate over the budget. The government stopped providing nonessential services last week after lawmakers couldn’t agree on a spending package.
“Despite the rhetoric, handwringing, name calling and finger pointing, the market believes a deal will ultimately be struck,” said Adrian Miller, director of fixed-income strategies at GMP Securities LLC in New York. “The markets are on edge, are defensive and increasingly concerned, but there is still hope that we will avoid a default.”
Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said Congress needs to increase the $16.7 trillion borrowing limit by Oct. 17 or the nation risks defaulting on its payments.
Investors should buy three-, four- and five-year Treasuries and inflation-protected securities, Gross said on Bloomberg Television on Oct. 1. The government shutdown will end “very rapidly,” BlackRock’s Fink said Oct. 3 at an event hosted by the UCLA Anderson School of Management in Beverly Hills, California.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell two basis points, or 0.02 percentage point, to 2.63 percent at 5 p.m.in New York, according to Bloomberg Bond Trader prices. The yield is down from the high this year of 3 percent on Sept. 6 and compares with the average of 3.53 percent over the past decade.
The U.S. two-year interest-rate swap spread, a measure of debt-market stress, fell 0.14 basis point to 12.86 basis points. The gauge typically narrows when investors favor assets such as corporate bonds and widens when they seek the perceived safety of government securities. The measure has dropped from this year’s high of 19.55 in June on a closing basis.
A gauge of U.S. company credit risk fell. The Markit CDX North American Investment Grade Index, a credit-default swaps benchmark that investors use to hedge against losses or to speculate on creditworthiness, climbed three basis points to a mid-price of 82.8 basis points, according to prices compiled by Bloomberg. The index, which typically climbs as investor confidence in credit deteriorates and falls as it improves, has ranged over the past three months from as high as 86.5 on July 5 to as low as 69.76 on Sept. 18.
The Bloomberg U.S. Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against 10 major currencies, fell 0.2 percent to 1,008.13, the sixth decline in seven days. The index is has traded in a range of 1,008.4 and 1,054.48 the past three months. The greenback lost 0.8 percent to 96.71 yen, after touching 96.67, its weakest level since Aug. 12. The Japanese currency added 0.6 percent to 131.32 per euro.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 0.9 percent to 1,676.12 in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 136.34 points, or 0.9 percent, to 14,936.24.
Boehner Debt Limit Option Said to Be Democratic Votes
By Heidi Przybyla, Roxana Tiron & Richard Rubin - Oct 3, 2013 2:22 PM CT
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has been telling fellow Republicans that he won’t allow the U.S. to default on its debt, even if that requires Democratic votes, according to two Republican congressional aides.
Boehner has been meeting with Republicans privately as he and other party leaders seek to come up with a plan to end the partial U.S. government shutdown and raise the debt limit. Party leaders are trying to package other Republican priorities with a debt-ceiling increase for a vote as soon as next week.
Enlarge image Boehner Options for Debt Limit Said to Include Democratic Votes
House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, speaks to the media after a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 2, 2013. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg
“Speaker Boehner has always said that the United States will not default on its debt, but if we’re going to raise the debt limit, we need to deal with the drivers of our debt and deficits,” Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner, said in a statement today.
“That’s why we need a bill with cuts and reforms to get our economy moving again.”
Republicans have a 232-200 majority in the U.S. House, meaning that the party can lose 15 votes from party members on any measure without seeking Democratic support.
Last month, Boehner outlined a debt-limit increase strategy that also included lighter regulations, cuts in entitlement programs and approval of TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL pipeline.
The outline included means-testing Medicare, reducing the changes to malpractice law and eliminating social services block grants. Also being considered was a proposal to eliminate a requirement that gives regulators authority to seize and dismantle financial firms if their failure could damage the stability of the U.S. financial system.
Some Republican lawmakers, such as Representatives Paul Broun of Georgia and Mo Brooks of Alabama, said the plan didn’t do enough to cut spending, and Boehner shelved it in favor of focusing on a bill to fund the government and curb the Affordable Care Act.
Inside the party, every move Boehner makes to satisfy spending hard-liners risks losing the support of Republicans such as Peter King of New York and Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, who support a stopgap spending bill without conditions.
On several fiscal issues, including the 2011 debt-limit increase and the lapse of tax cuts at the end of 2012, Boehner united Republicans around partisan bills to set a party position and then allowed a bipartisan vote on final deals reached by senators of both parties and President Barack Obama.
In both cases, the first version that passed the House received fewer than 20 Democratic votes and the final versions were backed by at least half of the Democrats.
The U.S. Treasury Department says the government will run out of borrowing authority Oct. 17. It will then have a cash balance that will run out between Oct. 22 and Oct. 31, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The Treasury Department issued a report today saying that the effects of failing to raise the debt ceiling would be catastrophic and could start a deep recession.
“The speaker’s said over and over again there’s no intention to default,” Representative James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, told reporters. “I don’t think there’s energy in the Republican conference to have any kind of default.”
Obama says he won’t negotiate about attaching policy conditions to the debt limit.
“The American people are not pawns in some political game,” he said today in Rockville, Maryland. “You don’t get to demand some ransom in exchange for keeping the government running. You don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for keeping the economy running.”
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News / EconomyIMF: US Failure to Lift Debt Ceiling Could Damage World Economy
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde speaks about the upcoming IMF and World Bank meetings, at George Washington University in Washington, October 3, 2013.
International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde speaks about the upcoming IMF and World Bank meetings, at George Washington University in Washington, October 3, 2013.
Bank CEOs Warn of Consequences From US Shutdown, Default
US Warns of 'Catastrophic' Effect If It Defaults
ADB Economist Warns of Impact on Asian Growth if US Defaults
Global Markets Calm on First Day of US Government Shutdown
October 03, 2013
WASHINGTON — Failure to raise the U.S. debt ceiling could damage not only the United States but the rest of the global economy, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said on Thursday.
“It is 'mission-critical' that this be resolved as soon as possible,” she said in a speech in Washington, ahead of the IMF and World Bank annual meetings next week.
Republican and Democratic leaders in the U.S. Congress so far remain at loggerheads over funding the government, keeping hundreds of thousands of federal employees off the job without pay for a third day on Thursday.
Though a government shutdown would do relatively little damage to the world's largest economy in the short term, global markets could be roiled if Congress also fails to raise the United States' $16.7 trillion debt limit.
The Treasury has said the United States will exhaust its borrowing authority no later than October 17. If no deal is reached in raising the debt ceiling, analysts expect the U.S. government to run out of cash to pay its bills within weeks of that date.
Lagarde said growth in the United States has already been hurt by too much fiscal consolidation, and will be below two percent this year before rising by about one percentage point in 2014, assuming political standoffs are resolved.
The U.S. Congress imposed a so-called sequester, or across the board government spending cuts, earlier this year after failing to agree on a broad budget package. Glimmers of optimism
Turning to the rest of the world, Lagarde pointed to signs of progress in the eurozone and Japan, but said transitions to more stable growth may take a while.
She said the eurozone “came up for air” in the spring after six quarters of recession, and the economy should grow almost one percent next year. The currency bloc must address debt-hobbled banks and a fragmented financial system to return to health, she said.
Japan also seems to be having success with its massive monetary stimulus to boost the economy out of decades of deflation and lagging growth, boosting GDP by about one percent.
“Deflation is coming to an end and a newfound optimism is in the air,” Lagarde said, adding that Japan must still implement a credible plan to bring down its debt and reform entitlements.
She said emerging markets have suffered since the U.S. Federal Reserve announced plans to eventually scale back its own monetary stimulus, which prompted capital outflows as investors bet on higher rates in advanced economies.
Lagarde said the turbulence could reduce GDP in major emerging markets by 0.5 to 1 percentage points.
Monetary policy helped rescue the global economy after the global financial crisis. But as the United States prepares to decrease the pace of its massive bond-buying, it must be aware that its policies affect people and markets around the world, Lagarde said.‘Special resposibility’
“The U.S. has a special responsibility: to implement [normalization] in an orderly way, linking it to the pace of recovery and employment; to communicate clearly; and to conduct a dialog with others,” she said.
But Lagarde said the turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa may be the hardest to resolve, and take the most time. Syria is still in the midst of a civil war and Egypt struggles to address its fiscal deficit and structural reforms while dealing with a political transition.
“To succeed, [this region] needs the unwavering support of the international community,” Lagarde said.
Finally, she called on governments to better work together on reforming the financial sector, calling progress too slow, partly due to divergences among different countries. She pointed in particular to the “danger zone” of shadow banking, or the non-banking sector that can provide credit but is not under formal regulation.
In the United States, shadow banking is twice the size of the banking sector, and in China half the credit given this year has come from shadow banking, she said.
“Putting this all together in a globalized world is a headache,” Lagarde said about financial regulation. “And yet, it must be done - nothing less than global financial stability depends on it.”
The Threat of ‘Abegeddon’ From Taxes in Japan
By William Pesek Oct 1, 2013 7:53 AM CT
Posterity is watching carefully as Shinzo Abe goes ahead with a sales-tax increase aimed at getting a handle on Japan’s huge debt burden, the world’s largest. Unfortunately history may judge him no better than Ryutaro Hashimoto, the last Japanese prime minister to kill an economic recovery with ill-timed fiscal tightening.
That’s not the conventional wisdom of the moment. Markets are euphoric over surging confidence among large Japanese manufacturers. September’s jump in the quarterly Tankan (JNTSMFG) index -- to the highest levels since before the Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapse in 2008 -- gave Abe just the tail wind he needed to raise the consumption tax to 8 percent from 5 percent starting in April 2014, with a further 2 percent increase in the cards for 2015.
William Pesek is based in Tokyo and writes on economics, markets and politics throughout the Asia-Pacific region. ...
Yet Abe is ignoring two things that could end his revival program, dubbed Abenomics: the precedent set by Hashimoto, Japan’s 53rd prime minister, and the specter of inflation.
Hashimoto’s 1997 sales-tax increase scuttled Japan’s best chance at strong growth in a decade. By the time Hashimoto left office in 1998, business leaders were deriding him as Japan’s Herbert Hoover, the 31st president who botched the U.S. exit from the Great Depression with badly timed austerity measures.
Inflation heightens the risk Abe is making the same mistake. The government hailed news last week that consumer prices are rising at the fastest pace since 2008 as a vindication of Abenomics. Yet the 0.8 percent jump in prices excluding fresh food in August was purely an energy story, driving by a surge in costs for fuel imports.
The yen’s 20 percent slide against the dollar in the year through August comes just as Japan’s demand for fuel imports is skyrocketing. Safety concerns have shut down all of the country’s nuclear reactors since a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima power plant. Japan desperately needs gas, oil and coal to reactivate conventional power stations. And Japan is a price taker in global markets, not a price maker.
“Increases in fuel procurement costs impose a heavy burden on the Japanese economy,” Trade Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said in Tokyo recently.
That burden could lead to something even more ominous: stagflation. Alexander Friedman, chief investment officer at UBS AG, calls the prospect “Abegeddon.”
“We’ve had something like 13 stimulus programs in Japan since 1999, so we do have to see if there is a sustainable handoff to growth,” Friedman told Bloomberg Television’s Francine Lacqua on Sept. 27. “Months ago, I said the big risk on Japan might be what I would call ‘Abegeddon,’ instead of Abenomics, which would be a scenario where there is no growth, but there is inflation, so call it stagflation. Given Japan’s debt to GDP, that would be a tragedy. So I think it is too early to declare victory here and too early to say we have a sustainable path forward for Japan.”
What if raising taxes actually increases Japan’s debt load instead of cutting it? Abe is being goaded into it to avoid credit downgrades. International Monetary Fund officials are among those urging Tokyo to fix an ugly national balance sheet, which has been made worse by a shrinking population. The risk, though, is that a tax increase will dissuade Japanese from spending, while higher energy costs squeeze companies.
Lawmakers are already clamoring for stimulus to offset the new tax levies, which would deaden the fiscal benefit anyway. Why bother raising taxes in the first place -- especially now, just as Abenomics is trying to gain traction? Besides, as University of Tokyo economist Takatoshi Ito argues, making a dent in a debt more than double the size of the economy would require a 20 percent sales tax -- something no economist is seriously advocating.
A better strategy would be to push through the sweeping deregulation Japan has avoided since 1990 in order to catalyze growth. Why not use the next six months to enact crucial elements of Abenomics? The government could cut the red tape that prevents entrepreneurs from starting new companies, negotiate entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, unveil new energy policies and announce quotas on female board members.
If Japan had done any of these things a decade ago, it wouldn’t have to burden consumers now. Sadly, lawmakers squandered the last two years debating how to raise taxes rather than how to improve the country’s competitiveness. Abe may not be courting a depression, but a Hashimoto-like recession can’t be ruled out. If he wants to give Japanese a brighter future, he should start by avoiding the mistakes of the past.
(William Pesek is a Bloomberg View columnist.)
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