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Thematic

Overview of thematic research

39 (21-30)
March 7, 2018
Inflation data over the past year – and especially over the past week – have highlighted a critical point. Fluctuations in inflation rates for items that are typically insensitive to the busi-ness cycle — which we refer to as acyclical, such as health care and apparel — can drive the overall inflation trajectory and lead to regime shifts in the market’s inflation narrative. The plunge in wireless telephone services prices last March, followed by a string of downside surprises to other acyclical items, spawned a narrative that structural disinflationary forces would prevent inflation from rising. In the same way, recent stronger inflation data led by acyclical items may have revived the narrative that the Phillips curve is, in fact, alive and well and that risks are tilted toward inflation overshooting the Fed’s target. [more]
23
March 1, 2018
In the fourth part of our series on the impact of rising yields, we discuss the rising incidence of zombie firms in recent years. Bottom-up data of some 3,000 companies in the FTSE All World index show that the percentage of zombie firms has more than tripled to 2.0% of firms in 2016 from 0.6% in 1996. Such firms are defined as those with an interest coverage ratio under 1x for 2 consecutive years and a price to sales ratio under 3x. That matters because zombie firms are linked to fading business dynamism and because years of low interest rates should have led to fewer such firms, not more. There are early signs we are at a turning point, however. The numbers for 2017, with two-thirds of firms reporting, suggest that zombie firm incidence declined sharply last year. If this proves to be a real trend, it may give central banks confidence that continuing to raise rates and pull away from unconventional monetary policy will have some advantages. [more]
24
January 25, 2018
The lead market commentator of the Financial Times this morning writes that the dollar sell-off has “stopped making sense”. Indeed, viewed with the post-crisis lens of activist central banks and exceptionally tight correlations between FX and rates the dollar is entirely out of line with fundamentals. But currency moves over the medium-term ultimately boil down to one thing: flows. If inflows into an economy pick up the currency strengthens and vice versa. Looked at from a flow perspective, the dollar bear market makes complete sense: our outlook for FX 2018 argued that the flow picture is exceptionally supportive for EUR/USD and this positive dynamic is currently playing out. [more]
25
December 15, 2016
Region:
Germany remains an anchor of steadiness with an undisputed role as leader in Europe and is the only country that comes close to being on a par with America. This story of success is based on many structural factors, some of which complement and mutually reinforce each other. We group them as follows: (1) Macropolicies focused on stability and growth (2) Institutions grounded in German ‘ordoliberalism’ (3) Global companies with unique structures (4) An equitable system of social security and cooperative social partners (5) A long-term perspective by companies and citizens with the willingness to forgo immediate reward – in our view the most important factor in the success. The combination of innovative, multinational companies, functioning institutions and highly skilled workers will, in our view, maintain Germany’s competitiveness and prosperity into the future. German politicians are therefore confronted with the increasing challenge of holding the eurozone together. However, if anti-euro movements gain the upper hand in key partner countries, thereby increasing the disruptive risks, there may be a reassessment in Germany of the euro’s costs and benefits. [more]
26
November 1, 2016
Region:
While European central bankers commend themselves for the scale and originality of monetary policy since 2012, this self-praise is increasingly unwarranted. The reality is that since Mr Draghi’s infamous “whatever it takes” speech in 2012, the eurozone has delivered barely any growth, the worst labour market performance among industrial countries, unsustainable debt levels, and inflation far below the central bank’s own target. While the positive case for European Central Bank intervention is weak at best, the negative repercussions are becoming overwhelming. This paper outlines the five darker sides to current monetary policy. [more]
27
June 23, 2016
Region:
What this victory for the Leave campaign ends up meaning for the future of Britain is debatable. What is not in doubt is that Europe without its brightest star will be a darker place. Adding to the gloom is the fact this was avoidable. Britain voting to go it alone mirrors a wider distrust in the European project – a manifestation of its weak economic situation. [more]
28
June 8, 2016
Region:
Over the past century central banks have become the guardians of our economic and financial security. The Bundesbank and Federal Reserve are respected for achieving monetary stability, often in the face of political opposition. But central bankers can also lose the plot, usually by following the economic dogma of the day. When they do, their mistakes can be catastrophic. [more]
29
November 13, 2015
Region:
The influx of refugees has raised net immigration to Germany to the record level of more than one million. Among the OECD countries, this trend could put Germany ahead of the United States, traditionally the No. 1 destination country for migrants. As a result, Germany faces the difficult − and costly – Herculean task of integrating the refugees and absorbing the supply shock to the labour market. At the same time, the refugees represent an opportunity for rejuvenating an ageing population in Germany, where there is a growing scarcity of labour and the threat of lower structural growth. In our outlined win-win scenario, successful integration offers Germany the opportunity to consolidate its position as Europe’s economic powerhouse and to increase its attractiveness as an immigration country. A sustained high level of net immigration will attenuate the decline of the trend growth rate brought on by an ageing population. Instead of moving closer to stagnation, the trend growth could still amount to 1% in ten to 15 years as well, which would also benefit social systems. [more]
30
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