Moody’s Investors Service has today downgraded China’s long-term local currency and foreign currency issuer ratings to A1 from Aa3 and changed the outlook to stable from negative.
The downgrade reflects Moody’s expectation that China’s financial strength will erode somewhat over the coming years, with economy-wide debt continuing to rise as potential growth slows. While ongoing progress on reforms is likely to transform the economy and financial system over time, it is not likely to prevent a further material rise in economy-wide debt, and the consequent increase in contingent liabilities for the government.
The stable outlook reflects our assessment that, at the A1 rating level, risks are balanced. The erosion in China’s credit profile will be gradual and, we expect, eventually contained as reforms deepen. The strengths of its credit profile will allow the sovereign to remain resilient to negative shocks, with GDP growth likely to stay strong compared to other sovereigns, still considerable scope for policy to adapt to support the economy, and a largely closed capital account.
China’s local currency and foreign currency senior unsecured debt ratings are downgraded to A1 from Aa3. The senior unsecured foreign currency shelf rating is also downgraded to (P)A1 from (P)Aa3.
China’s local currency bond and deposit ceilings remain at Aa3. The foreign currency bond ceiling remains at Aa3. The foreign currency deposit ceiling is lowered to A1 from Aa3. China’s short-term foreign currency bond and bank deposit ceilings remain Prime-1 (P-1).
China’s government approved the creation of a bond link between Hong Kong and the mainland.
S&P upgraded Indonesia one notch to investment grade BBB- with stable.
Fitch revised the outlook on Vietnam’s BB- rating from stable to positive.
Egypt will announce a package of social spending soon.
Moody’s changed the outlook on Poland’s A2 rating from negative to stable.
Brazil press reported that meat-packing company JBS has submitted compromising tape recordings to the Supreme Court.
Chile central bank surprised markets with a 25 bp cut but signaled a move to a neutral bias.
In the EM equity space as measured by MSCI, Hungary (+2.6%), Indonesia (+2.0%), and Peru (+1.4%) have outperformed this week, while Brazil (-11.1%), Poland (-1.8%), and Egypt (-1.7%) have underperformed. To put this in better context, MSCI EM fell -0.3% this week while MSCI DM was flat.
In the EM local currency bond space, India (10-year yield -11 bp), Korea (-7 bp), and Peru (-4 bp) have outperformed this week, while Brazil (10-year yield +155 bp), Argentina (+28 bp), and Turkey (+22 bp) have underperformed. To put this in better context, the 10-year UST yield fell 8 bp to 2.25%.
In the EM FX space, SGD (+1.3% vs. USD), ZAR (+1.0% vs. USD), and THB (+0.9% vs. USD) have outperformed this week, while BRL (-4.6% vs. USD), ARS (-3.1% vs. USD), and INR (-0.5% vs. USD) have underperformed.
Ahead of Trump’s much anticipated tax announcement on Wednesday, the WSJ reports that the president has ordered his (mostly ex-Goldman) White House aides to accelerate efforts to create a tax plan “slashing the corporate rate to 15% and prioritizing cuts in tax rates over an attempt to not increase the deficit” which means that without an offsetting source of revenue, Trump is about to unleash the debt spigots, a proposal which will face fierce pushback from conservatives as it is nothing more than a continuation of the status quo under the Obama administration, and may well be DOA.
The WSJ adds that during an Oval Office meeting last week, “Trump told staff he wants a massive tax cut to sell to the American people” and that it was “less important to him if the plan loses revenue.”
Hoping to add a sense of dramatic urgency – after all his 100 day deadline hits on Saturday – Trump told his team to “get it done,” in time to release a plan by Wednesday.
Translation: Trump’s massive tax cut will be funded by debt, and as a result, will be at best temporary as it will be in breach of the revenue constraints in the reconciliation process; at worst it will never happen as it will now require Democrat votes.
Having largely disappeared from the market’s scope for the past 6 months, ever since Europe “bent” its rule allowing the bailout of Monte Paschi and several smaller banks despite Italy having the greatest amount of disclosed NPLs of any European nation, moments ago Fitch decided to drag Italy right back in the spotlight when it downgraded Italy to BBB from BBB+, citing “Italy’s persistent track record of fiscal slippage, back-loading of consolidation, weak economic growth, and resulting failure to bring down the very high level of general government debt has left it more exposed to potential adverse shocks. This is compounded by an increase in political risk, and ongoing weakness in the banking sector which has required planned public intervention in three banks since December.“
And some more:
Italy has missed successive targets for general government debt/GDP, which increased by 0.5pp in 2016 to 132.6%. This is 11.2% of GDP higher than the target in the Stability Programme of 2013, the year Fitch downgraded Italy’s Long-Term IDRs to ‘BBB+’, and compares with the current ‘BBB’ range median of 41.5% of GDP. Fitch forecasts general government debt to peak at 132.7% of GDP in 2017, falling only gradually to 129.3% in 2020 in our debt sensitivity projections.
Fitch’s rating Outlook for the Italian banking sector is Negative, primarily reflecting the challenge of reducing the high level of un-provisioned non-performing loans (NPLs), alongside weak profitability and capital generation. The rate of new NPLs edged down to 2.3% in 4Q16, and there is some greater impetus for disposals and write-downs, which has slightly reduced total NPLs. However, sofferenze, the worst category of loans, increased to EUR203 billion in February, from EUR199 billion in October. Total NPLs amount to close to 17.5% of loans and 20% of GDP, and just over half are provided against.
In our view, political risks have increased since Fitch’s previous rating review. Current polls point to a further hollowing out of support for more centrist parties and to a fragmented political landscape that could result in minority government. Risks of weak or unstable government have increased, as has the possibility of populist and eurosceptic parties influencing policy. Greater populism may dampen political appetite for reform, increase the pressure for fiscal loosening, and weigh on investor sentiment.
With France – and much of Europe – already on edge due to populist tensions, is Italian sovereign – and bank – risk about to make a grand reapparance? For the answer, check in when Europe opens on Monday.
Meanwhile, Italian CDS trades at 190bps, wider than Russia, Croatia and almost as wide as South Africa.
Notwithstanding the impact of demonetisation, India returned to fiscal consolidation in the fiscal year 2016-17 largely due to the near-elimination of fuel subsidies and enhanced targeting of social benefits, the IMF said on Wednesday.
“India returned to fiscal consolidation in fiscal year 2016/17, supported by the near-elimination of fuel subsidies and enhanced targeting of social benefits, notwithstanding the deceleration in growth related to the country’s recent currency exchange initiative,” the IMF said in its report on Fiscal Monitor released on the sidelines of the annual Spring Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
The IMF said, in India, the headline deficit is projected to decline modestly in fiscal year 2017/18, with continued delay in reaching the medium-term deficit target.
The budget envisages a growth-friendly fiscal adjustment underpinned by expenditure cuts that protect infrastructure investment, as well as more progressive income taxes for individuals combined with lower taxes on small and medium- sized enterprises.
“The expected rollout of the nationwide Goods and Services Tax (GST) this year will enhance the efficiency of the internal movement of goods and services and effectively create a common national market,” the IMF said.
When one strips away the partisan rhetoric and posturing, the practical impact of Friday’s GOP failure to repeal Obamacare has a specific monetary impact: approximately $1 trillion.
Since the ObamaCare repeal bill would have eliminated most of the 2010 health law’s taxes, this would have lowered by a similar amount the revenue baseline for tax reform. Essentially, with the ObamaCare taxes gone, it would have been easier to pay for lowering tax rates. Now, if Republicans want to eliminate the ObamaCare taxes as part of tax reform and ensure the bill does not add to the deficit – which they need to do to assure Trump’s reform process continues under Reconciliation, avoiding the need for 60 votes in the Senate – they will have to raise almost $1 trillion in revenue.
In other words that – all else equal – is how much less tax cuts Trumps and the republicans will be able to pursue unless of course they somehow find a source of $1 trillion in tax revenue (or otherwise simply add to the budget deficit) to offset the Obamacare overhang.
Considering Paul Ryan’s statement on Friday, it appears that at least for the time being, Republicans would leave the ObamaCare taxes in place. “That just means the ObamaCare taxes stay with ObamaCare,” he said. “We’re going to go fix the rest of the tax code.”
Ryan also pushed back on the idea that the setback on healthcare previews difficulties with other items on the legislative agenda “I don’t think this is prologue to other future things, because members realize there are other parts of our agenda that people have even more agreement on what to achieve,” he said. “We have even more agreement on the need and the nature of tax reform, on funding the government, on rebuilding the military, on securing the border.”
Apart from saying its military budget will grow “roughly 7%” this year, China dropped no more hints on how much it was planning to spend on defense and foreign affairs amid rising tensions on both sides of the Pacific.
In the budget, the item “national defense” is substantiated by a guiding principle devoid of specific figures, while “foreign affairs” as an accounting item is not mentioned in the report.
The Ministry of Finance said in the English version of the document that the department will ensure adequate funds to support China’s aim of “building a solid national defense and strong armed forces that are commensurate with China’s international standing and are suited to our national security and development interests.”
The two figures are usually disclosed in the country’s most important political event known as the “Two Sessions” every March, where its rubber-stamp legislature National’s People Congress and advisory Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference converge.
Despite that, state mouthpiece Xinhua said on Monday that China’s total military budget for 2017 is 1.044 trillion yuan ($151.4 billion), citing an official at the Ministry of Finance. This compares with last year’s 954.35 billion yuan.
Premier Li Keqiang’s state-of-the-nation address and budget announcement on Sunday was the first time in decades that specific spending figures were not mentioned.
Fiscal deficit in the first 10 months to January was Rs 5.64 lakh crore or 105.7% of the budgeted target for the fiscal year ending in March 2017, government data showed on Tuesday.
The fiscal deficit was 95.8% of the full-year target during the same period a year ago.
Net tax receipts in the first 10 months of 2016/17 fiscal year were Rs 8.16 lakh crore, the data showed.
The government’s tax receipts usually rise in the last two months of the fiscal year than its spending, thereby helping it meet the budgeted full-year fiscal deficit target.
The federal government reiterated earlier this month that it would meet the 2016/17 fiscal deficit target of 3.5% of gross domestic product, and had also set the next fiscal year’s target at 3.2% of GDP.
As China gears up for its annual legislative session, all eyes are on the economy: specifically, how fast the Communist leaders intend China to grow, and what they are willing to sacrifice for that goal.
The most hotly awaited event of the National People’s Congress will come on March 5 — opening day — when Premier Li Keqiang will announce the government’s economic growth target for 2017. Many expect a downgrade from 2016’s goal of 6.5-7% to “around 6.5%,” according to a major bank.
Beijing aims to bring China’s gross domestic product to twice the 2010 level by 2020 — a goal frequently, and mistakenly, taken to be merely an aspirational target. President Xi Jinping has called for the eradication of poverty in China by 2021, the hundredth anniversary of the Communist Party’s formation, and pledged a “great revival of the Chinese nation.” In this context, missing the mark could mean the leader’s downfall.
Doubling GDP over a decade requires 7.2% annual growth on average. Rates that were higher than that from 2011 to 2014 mean the country has only to hit 6.3% during the next few years. Targeting 6.5%, and thus avoiding a steep drop-off from last year’s goal, is a clear attempt to avoid any possible misstep ahead of the party’s twice-a-decade National Congress this autumn, when the group will name its next slate of leaders.
But in today’s China, 6.5% is no slight hurdle. To be sure, exports are recovering thanks to a brisk U.S. economy and a yuan some 10% weaker than at its peak. But areas outside major cities remain mired in vacant housing stock, and private investment is sluggish, leaving public works as one of the only viable drivers of growth.
Tax authorities around the world will soon get a powerful new weapon in the fight against tax avoidance.
Next year will see the launch of the Common Reporting Standard, a new global system for the automatic exchange of financial account information between national revenue bodies. Set for launch in September 2018 the CRS has already been hailed as a game-changer.
The system represents the international community’s response to criticism of rampant tax avoidance through offshore accounts in the Panama Papers.
“Assets held by wealthy people will become fully visible,” said senior Japanese tax official. “Its power will be tremendous.”
That view appears to be no exaggeration.
Established by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the system automatically provides for the exchange of information on accounts across jurisdictions.
The data will include the names and addresses of account holders as well as the account balances and interest and dividends earned on the holdings.