Thursday, September 22, 2016

Russia’s Central Bank expects the crude glut on the global market to persist till 2017, according to the regulator’s report on monetary policy quoted by Tass. Oil price will decline to about $40 per barrel in 2016 and remain on this level in 2017-2019, the bank said. “The estimates of the supply and demand balance on the global crude market have not changed significantly, the surplus of oil supply is expected to persist till 2017. Taking this into account, the Bank of Russia has kept its base case forecast of Urals crude oil price by the end of 2016 at the level of $40 per barrel,” the report said.
A possible decision to freeze oil production by the exported countries will not have a significant effect on the demand/supply balance on the global oil market or oil price, the report said.  “The negotiations on freezing oil production among OPEC countries and some large exporters outside the organization are unlikely to have a lasting effect on market conditions. This would be possible only if the parties have agreed on direct reduction of production in comparison with current levels, but such an outcome is very unlikely. A more likely solution – setting production and exports at the levels close to the current ones – will not significantly affect the demand/supply balance on the global oil market,” the report said.  Earlier, Saudi Arabia and Russia’s energy ministers singed a joint statement aimed at stabilizing the crude market on the sidelines of the G20 Summit. The Ministers recognized the importance of maintaining the ongoing dialogue about current developments in oil and gas markets and indicated their mutual desire to further expand their bilateral relations in energy.  Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak told reporters that Russia and Saudi Arabia are going to discuss freezing oil production for 3 or 6 months, maybe more.  The 15th International Energy Forum (IEF15) will be held in Algiers on September 26-28, 2016. According to the media, oil exporter countries might discuss freezing of oil production. Venezuela, Ecuador and Kuwait were the initiators of the discussion.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

OMV Petrom proposes its shareholders a dividend worth a minimum 30% for this year, says a release sent to Bucharest Stock Exchange. “OMV Petrom currently targets, subject to adverse developments in the external market, a proposed dividend from the 2016 net earnings of a minimum of 30% in the case it is fully covered by the Company’s free cash flows before dividends,” reads the release. ”The above should not be considered an amendment of the Company’s existing Dividend Policy, which will remain unchanged, but only a further detailing of the general principles with respect to 2016 only.” Starting the 2017 financial year and beyond, unless otherwise approved, the general principles under the Company’s existing Dividend Policy will remain unchanged and applicable, as follows: “OMV Petrom S.A. (the Company) is committed to deliver a competitive shareholder return through the business cycle, including paying an attractive dividend, subject always to maintaining a strong balance sheet that will enable the Company to finance its investment needs and to the shareholders’ approval.” OMV Petrom recorded a consolidated net profit of EUR 26 million in the second quarter of this year, down by 83% compared to the same period of 2015. The group’s consolidated sales declined by 20% in the three months ended June 31, 2016, to EUR 807 million.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

 Once upon a time, there were five international audit, tax and audit consulting firms. Arthur Andersen disappeared in 2002, after it was convicted for the involvement in the Enron fraud.  Since then, there have been four giants on this market, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Ernst & Young and KPMG, and some of their biggest clients are financial institutions. Bloomberg and Financial Times recently wrote that PricewaterhouseCoopers has been sued for "not having detected a case of fraud that led to the collapse of a bank during the global financial crisis". According to FT, the lawsuit in the United States "could bring more audit firms in the line of fire". The biggest lawsuit against an audit firm, according to Financial Times, has been brought following the complaint filed by the company that is in charge of the liquidation of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker (TBW), a mortgage originator in the US, which has been in a long-lasting relationship with Colonial Bank din Alabama. During the period of the real estate bubble in the United States, which has led to the subprime lending crisis, TBW used to grant mortgage loans, and they have already been financed by Colonial Bank.  According to the article in FT, the company that manages what is left of the TBW assets are accusing PwC of "failing to spot the conspiracy of several billion dollars between the founder of TBW and the executive management of Colonial Bank". The documents submitted to the court show that PwC signed "clean" audit opinions between 2002 and 2008, and in 2009 Colonial Bank collapsed and "rose" up to the 6th position in the chart of the biggest defaults in the US. The cost for the FDIC (author's note": Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the institution for the guarantee of bank deposits in the US) was 4.2 billion dollars, according to Bloomberg estimates.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A key gauge of credit vulnerability is now three times over the danger threshold and has continued to deteriorate, despite pledges by Chinese premier Li Keqiang to wean the economy off debt-driven growth before it is too late.  The Bank for International Settlements warned in its quarterly report that China’s "credit to GDP gap" has reached 30.1, the highest to date and in a different league altogether from any other major country tracked by the institution. It is also significantly higher than the scores in East Asia's speculative boom on 1997 or in the US subprime bubble before the Lehman crisis. Studies of earlier banking crises around the world over the last sixty years suggest that any score above ten requires careful monitoring.  The credit to GDP gap measures deviations from normal patterns within any one country and therefore strips out cultural differences.  It is based on work the US economist Hyman Minsky and has proved to be the best single gauge of banking risk, although the final denouement can often take longer than assumed. Indicators for what would happen to debt service costs if interest rates rose 250 basis points are also well over the safety line.  China’s total credit reached 255pc of GDP at the end of last year, a jump of 107 percentage points over eight years. This is an extremely high level for a developing economy and is still rising fast .

Saturday, September 17, 2016

EU leaders will search for unity at a special summit without the UK on Friday, in the hope of setting a course for a union battered by the Brexit vote and riven by a simmering east-west row over migration.  Donald Tusk, the former Polish prime minister who chairs EU leaders’ summits, hopes to cool tempers after Luxembourg’s foreign minister called for Hungary to be thrown out of the EU for allegedly treating asylum seekers “worse than wild animals”. Hungary counterattacked with stinging criticism of the grand duchy’s record in helping big corporations avoid tax. On Thursday Tusk called on EU leaders to take a “brutally honest” look at the bloc’s problems, declaring: “We must not let this crisis go to waste.”  “We haven’t come to Bratislava to comfort each other or even worse to deny the real challenges we face in this particular moment in the history of our community after the vote in the UK,” said Tusk, who will chair the summit. “We can’t start our discussion ... with this kind of blissful conviction that nothing is wrong, that everything was and is OK,” he added. “We have to assure ... our citizens that we have learned the lesson from Brexit and we are able to bring back stability and a sense of security and effective protection.” Tusk hopes to focus on areas that the 27 leaders can agree on: border security, counter-terrorism and moves to “to bring back control of globalisation”. Officials are playing down expectations of results from the meeting at Bratislava castle, in the capital of Slovakia, one of the four Visegrád countries along with Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.  Officials close to Tusk hope for small but symbolic breakthroughs, most notably an agreement to send an extra 200 border guards and 50 vehicles to the EU’s external frontier in Bulgaria by next month. Agreeing on stronger border defences is the easy bit. The thorny issue of sharing the cost of protecting refugees is likely to continue to strain unity. The Visegrád group are fiercely opposed to the EU executive’s attempts to fine them for not accepting refugees in their countries. Hungary has flatly refused to take in refugees under an EU quota scheme, while many other countries are falling short. Hungary’s rightwing prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has called a referendum for 2 October on the EU relocation plan, which would see 1,294 asylum seekers sent to the country.  Ahead of the vote, the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, appeared to offer an olive branch to his opponents. In his annual state of the union address, he said solidarity “must come from the heart” and could not be forced.

Friday, September 16, 2016

According to Eurostat, in the month of August, the most significant price increases were seem in food, alcohol and cigarettes, which have posted an annual increase of 1.3%, compared to 1.4% in July, followed by services, which have seen an annual increase of 1.1%, compared to 1.2% seen in July. On the other hand, energy prices have seen an annual decrease of 5.7% in August, compared to a decline of 6.7% seen in July.  Eurostat had previously announced that in July, compared to June 2016, annual inflation dropped in nine EU member countries, has remained stable in seven countries and has increased in 12 states, including Romania, according to Agerpres.  Eurostat has also announced on Wednesday that in July 2016, compared to June 2016, the unemployment rate has remained stable at 10.1% in the Eurozone, while in the European Union the unemployment rate has remained stable at 8.6%. Among the member states, the highest unemployment rates were seen in Greece, (23.5% in May 2016) and Spain (19.6%). On the opposite is Malta, with an unemployment rate of 3.9%, Czech Republic and Germany, both with 4.2%. Romania is below the EU average, with an unemployment rate of 6.1%. Compared to the situation in July 2015, the unemployment rate decreased in 24 member states, including Romania, has remained stable in Denmark and has increased in Estonia, Austria and Belgium.  In Romania's case, according to data notified by the National Statistics Institute, (INS), the annual inflation has remained in negative territory in July as well, at -0.8%, down from -0.7% in June. Calculated based on the harmonized consumer price index, the drop has been -0.3%, the INS states. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate also stood at 6.1%, at the end of July, up 0.1 percentage points over the previous month (6%), according to the standards of the International Labor Bureau. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

An authoritarian European Commission was to blame for Brexit and must give up on its federalist dreams or risk the disintegration of the European Union, eastern European states have warned as the continent’s divisions were laid bare.  “The EU has to change, we have to reform it," the Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo told the European Council president, Donald Tusk, at a meeting in Warsaw designed to ensure that post-Brexit Europe could present a united front at a summit in Bratislava on Friday.  The east-west split in Warsaw came on the eve of today’s keynote ‘State of the Union’ speech by Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, which aides had also hoped would provide a “big bang” moment to show that Europe could deliver for ordinary citizens.  Instead, European capitals descended into a round of bitter mutual recrimination over the future direction of the continent.