Tag: inward investment

After a week of turmoil in Cyprus (see the News item Ochi, ochi, ochi) a deal has been struck between Cyprus, the EU and the IMF over a €10bn bailout for the island’s banking system. But while the deal may bring the immediate crisis to an end, the Cypriot economy could face years of austerity and depression. And there remain questions over whether the deal sends the wrong message to depositors in banks in other eurozone countries whose banking systems are under pressure.

Unlike the original EU proposal, the deal will not impose a levy on deposits under €100,000, much to the relief of small and medium depositors. But individuals and businesses with deposits over €100,000 in the two main troubled banks (Laiki and the Bank of Cyprus) will face losses that could be as high as 40%. The precise size will become clear in the coming days.

The troubled second largest bank, Laiki (Popular) Bank, will be split into a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ bank. The assets and liabilities of the good part will be taken over by the largest bank, the Bank of Cyprus. Thus people’s accounts under €100,000 will be moved from one to the other. The ‘bad’ part will include deposits over €100,000 and bonds. Holders of these could lose a substantial proportion of their value.

Many businesses will be hard hit and may be forced to close. This could have serious adverse multiplier effects on the economy. These effects will be aggravated by the fiscal austerity measures which are also part of the deal. The measures are also likely to discourage further inward investment, again pushing the economy further into recession.

And then there are the broader effects on the eurozone. The direct effect of a decline in the Cypriot economy would be tiny; the Cypriot economy accounts for a mere 0.2% of eurozone GDP. Also the effect on small savers in other eurozone countries is also likely to be limited, as people will probably be reassured that savings under €100,000 have remained protected, even in an economy as troubled as Cyprus.

But some commentators argue that the effect on large depositors in other troubled eurozone countries, such as Portugal, Spain, Greece and Italy, could be much more serious. Would people with large balances in these countries prefer to move their money to, say, Germany, or even out of the eurozone altogether? There is clearly disagreement over this last point as you will see from the articles below.

Webcasts and Podcasts

Cyprus agrees bailout with eurozone ministers The Guardian (25/3/13)
Cyprus bailout: Deal reached in Eurogroup talks BBC News (25/3/13)
‘Disaster avoided’ as Cyprus agrees EU bailout deal Euronews (25/3/13)
Cyprus saved from bankruptcy Channel 4 News on YouTube, Faisal Islam (25/3/13)
What are the implications of the Cyprus deal? BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, Stephanie Flanders (25/3/13)
Cyprus bailout deal: Russia riled but Germany relieved BBC News, Steve Rosenberg in Moscow and Stephen Evans in Berlin (25/3/13)
Cyprus bailout deal ‘durable’ says IMF chief BBC News, Christine Lagarde (25/3/13)
Cyprus Bailout Deal Raises Questions: Lombardi Bloomberg, Domenico Lombardi (25/3/13)
Minister Michalis Sarris: Cyprus paying ‘tremendous cost’ BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, Michalis Sarris (26/3/13)

Articles

Last-minute Cyprus deal to close bank, force losses Reuters, Jan Strupczewski and Annika Breidthardt (25/3/13)
Cyprus strikes last-minute EU bailout deal The Guardian, Ian Traynor (25/3/13)
‘There is no future here in Cyprus’ The Telegraph, Nick Squires (25/3/13)
Back from the brink: EU ministers approve €10bn bailout deal at 11th-hour to save Cyprus Independent, Charlotte McDonald-Gibson and Majid Mohamed (25/3/13)
Cyprus bailout: Deal reached in Eurogroup talks BBC News (25/3/13)
Q&A: Cyprus deal BBC News (25/3/13)
The rescue of Cyprus won’t feel like one to its people BBC News, Robert Peston (25/3/13)
Lessons of Cyprus BBC News, Stephanie Flanders (25/3/13)
Cyprus bailout: Dijsselbloem remarks alarm markets BBC News (25/3/13)
Cyprus saved – but at what cost? The Guardian, Helena Smith (25/3/13)
Cyprus bail-out: savers will be raided to save euro in future crisis, says eurozone chief The Telegraph, Bruno Waterfield (25/3/13)
Cyprus’s banks have been tamed – are Malta and Luxembourg next? The Guardian, Ian Traynor (25/3/13)
Lehman lessons weigh on Cyprus talks but 1920s slump must not be ignored The Guardian, Larry Elliott (24/3/13)

Questions

  1. Explain what is meant by ‘moral hazard’. What moral hazards are implicit in the deal that has been struck with Cyprus?
  2. How does the size of the banking system in Cyprus as a proportion of GDP differ from that in other troubled eurozone countries? How does this affect the ‘contagion’ argument?
  3. Does the experience of Iceland and its troubled banks suggest that the Cypriot problem has nothing to do with its being in the eurozone?
  4. What options are open to the Cypriot government to stimulate the economy and prevent a severe recession? How realistic are these options (if any)?
  5. What are the likely implications of the deal for the economic relationships (as opposed to the political ones) between Cyprus and Russia and between the eurozone and Russia?
  6. Are there any similarities in the relationships between the weak and strong eurozone countries today and those between Germany and other countries in the 1920s and 30s?

Recent figures from the ONS suggest that the UK lags well behind its competitors in terms of labour productivity. In terms of output per hour worked, Germany produces 22% more than the UK, France produces 26% more, the USA produces 27% more, the Netherlands 31% more and Ireland 43% more. The first chart illustrates some of these figures.

(Click here for a PowerPoint of this chart.)

And in the past few years the problem has been getting worse. This is shown in the second chart. This, however, is a relatively recent phenomenon. Until 2006, the gap was narrowing, but since then it has widened. (Click here for a PowerPoint of the second chart.)

What has caused this widening of the gap? Part of the problem is a historical lack of investment in the UK. Between 2005 and 2012, the UK invested on average 15.7% of GDP. The USA invested 16.5%, Germany 17.9% and France 20.1%. And part of the problem has been the cut back in private-sector investment in response to the recession (which has been deeper in the UK) and in public-sector investment as part of the government’s austerity measures.

Part of the problem has been lower levels of inward investment. Inward direct investment to the UK in 2011 was only 24 per cent of that in 2007. In France, Germany, Italy and the USA, the figures were 43, 50, 66 and 105 per cent respectively.

Part of the problem has been the size of the financial sector in the UK. This is considerably larger as a proportion of the economy than in most the UK’s major competitors. And it was this sector most hard hit by the crisis of 2007/8.

With this poor productivity performance, you might expect unemployment to have soared. In fact, the UK has one of the lowest unemployment rates of the developed countries and in recent months it has been falling while other countries have seen their unemployment rates rise.

In fact, low productivity and high employment are compatible. If people produce less than their counterparts abroad, then more people will be needed to produce the same level of output. The problem, of course, is that this only works if wages are kept down. Indeed, wages have fallen in real terms and now stand at the level of 10 years ago.

The problem of falling real wages is that this translates into a lack of demand – especially when people are trying to reduce their debts. Not only does this result in a lack of economic growth, it discourages firms from investing – and investment is one of the prime drivers of future productivity growth!

The following articles explore the problem of low productivity and its relationship with employment and with both short-term and long-term economic growth.

Articles

UK has widest productivity gap since 1993 City A.M., Ben Southwood (14/2/13)
Productivity ‘key to UK’s economic future’ SnowdropKCS (7/2/13)
Low wages and lack of investment – why UK’s productivity has slumped Wales Online, David Williamson (2/3/13)
Recovery in jobs gives a fillip before the news on growth Independent, Russell Lynch (23/1/13)
U.K. Triple-Dipping as Productivity Falls Slate, Matthew Yglesias (25/1/13)
UK productivity puzzle baffles economists BBC News, By Andrew Walker (18/10/12)
Is low productivity a structural problem in the UK? BBC Today Programme, Bridget Rosewell and Andrew Sentance (4/1/13)
We Need to Talk About the Middle Huffington Post, Stewart Wood (14/2/13)
UK Wages Slump to Lowest Level in a Decade – ONS International Business Times, Shane Croucher (13/2/13)
Britain’s low-wage economy serves as a bind on the country The Guardian, Philip Inman (13/2/13)
Real wages fall back to 2003 levels in UK The Guardian, Hilary Osborne (13/2/13)

Data

International Comparisons of Productivity – Final Estimates for 2011 ONS (13/2/13)
International Comparisons of Productivity, datasets ONS (13/2/13)
Changes in real earnings in the UK and London, 2002 to 2012 ONS (13/2/13)

Questions

  1. Which is a better measure of productivity – output per worker or output per hour worked? Why, do you think, does the USA produce 39% more per worker, but only 27% more per hour worked?
  2. What policies should the government adopt in order to encourage a growth in productivity?
  3. If productivity growth increased, what would be the likely effect on employment? Explain.
  4. Why has unemployment not risen in recent months?

With globalisation, more and more businesses have found it beneficial to ‘go global’. There are many reasons why a firm might choose to expand its production or market to other countries and one particular advantage is cutting costs in the manufacturing of products.

Countries such as China and India have become leaders in production. Look at many of the items you own – I’m sure you’ll see a ‘Made in China’ or ‘Made in India’ amongst them. These fast emerging countries were highly sought after as places to produce due to much cheaper production costs. This advantage led to Western companies outsourcing much of their manufacturing base to China, as a means of retaining a competitive advantage.

However, the cost advantages that China boasted are now less significant and we may be about to see the emergence of a new manufacturing hub. Other countries that are further behind the BRICS in the development process now have cost advantages over places like China and so we may see another transfer of manufacturing to other parts of the world.

When splitting up a supply chain to gain cost advantages a key consideration is the extent to which you lose control. Communication and co-ordination issues can emerge when design takes place in one country; production in another and then the products are sold around the world. When cost differences are huge, these problems can be overlooked, as what they might cost you in terms of lost time etc. is easily made up by savings through cheaper labour.

However, when the cost advantages of production in China shrink, companies are still left with the problems of communication and co-ordination. These now represent more significant costs that could be reduced were production to revert to the country of design or if production were to be moved to an even cheaper country.

The following article from BBC News considers the issues surrounding the supply chain and how businesses may benefit from more collaboration.

Better collaboration lets businesses take back the supply chain BBC News, Alastair Sorbie (15/6/12)

Questions

  1. What are the arguments for becoming a multinational?
  2. Why do host countries, such as the BRICS accept inward investment? What do they gain from it?
  3. Explain how the product life cycle can affect the profitability of a MNC and how the company might respond.
  4. What are the disadvantages to a MNC from ‘going global’?
  5. What are the problems faced by developing countries acting as host nations?
  6. How has technology affected both big and small businesses?

The UK has adopted a relatively open market policy towards takeovers of domestic companies by ones from overseas. True, takeovers have to be in accordance with competition legislation, namely the 2002 Enterprise Act, or, in the case of takeovers affecting competition in the UK and at least one other EU country, the EU 2004 merger control measures and Article 102 of the Lisbon Treaty. The EU regulations disallow mergers if they result in ‘a concentration which would significantly impede effective competition, in particular by the creation or strengthening of a dominant position’ (see Economics (7th ed) pages 370–3 or Economics for Business (5th ed), pages 443–50). The UK legislation is similarly concerned with a substantial lessening of competition. But in both cases, competition policy is not concerned with whether the takeover is by a foreign company rather than a domestic one. So should we be concerned?

Interest in this question increased recently with the takeover of Cadbury by Kraft. Many saw it as yet one more example of British companies being taken over by foreign ones. Other examples include the takover in 2008 of Scottish and Newcastle (brewers of Courage, John Smith’s, Fosters and Kronenbourg) by the Carlsberg/Heineken consortium; the sale of the Rover group, with Minis now made by BMW, and Jaguar Land Rover now owned by Tata Motors of India; and the takeover in 2007 of Corus, the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker, by India’s Tata Steel. One of the key complaints about foreign takeovers is when they result in job losses. Although Kraft gave assurances that the Cadbury plant at Keynesham, near Bristol, would remain open, as soon as the takeover was completed, Kraft announced the closure of the Keynesham factory. Tata Steel earlier this year decided to mothball its steelworks at Redcar, on Teesside. It may never re-open.

But there are many arguments on either side about the desirability of takeovers by foreign companies. On the positive side, they may result in investment in new plant and new products and a faster growth of the company. This could result in more employment, not less. They may bring in foreign expertise and give access to new technology; they may be able to achieve various economies of scale through joint operations; productivity may increase. As the article from The Economist states:

For 30 years the consensus has been that Britain has more to gain than to lose from its open embrace of globalisation. … Britain has enjoyed a strong inflow of foreign direct investment. It has consistently attracted more than any other European country. A report on British manufacturing for Policy Exchange, a centre-right think-tank, notes that the openness of the economy “makes Britain a magnet for foreign companies looking for acquisitions on which they can build their manufacturing operations” for Britain and elsewhere.

On the negative side, there may indeed be job losses as ‘rationalisation’ takes place. Head office functions and key research facilities may move abroad. Hostile takovers may result in the stripping of assets for short-term gain, thereby undermining the loing-term viability of the company.

The article from The Economist explores these issues.

Article

Small island for sale The Economist (25/3/10)

Data

A summary of cross-border mergers, acquisitions and disposals by UK companies and foreign companies in the UK can be found at: Mergers & Acquisitions data Office for National Statistics

For statistical bulletins and press releases see: Mergers and Acquisitions involving UK companies Office for National Statistics

For international data on foreign inward and outward direct investment see: Interactive database on Enterprise and Investment UNCTAD

See also: World Investment Report UNCTAD

Questions

  1. Explain what is meant by the ‘competition for corporate control’. In what ways does this competition affect consumers?
  2. From the point of view of a multinational company, assess the strategy of acquiring foreign companies by hostile takeovers.
  3. Has the UK benefited from an open policy towards inward investment and foreign takeovers of UK companies?
  4. How do short-term flows of funds prior to a takeover impact on the takeover process?
  5. Compare the trends in inward investment to the UK with outward investment by the UK.
  6. Examine the arguments for and against the government blocking takeovers if they threaten jobs.