Restarting the economic engines
Risk avoidance hampers efforts
China could provide some answers
People more important than the economy, pope says about Covid crisis – The Guardian
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Sunday that people are more important than the economy, as countries decide how quickly to reopen their countries from coronavirus lockdowns.
Francis made his comments, departing from a prepared script, at the first noon address from his window overlooking St. Peter’s Square in three months as Italy’s lockdown drew to an end.
“Healing people, not saving (money) to help the economy (is important), healing people, who are more important than the economy,” Francis said.
“We people are temples of the Holy Spirit, the economy is not,” he said.
Francis did not mention any countries. Many governments are deciding whether to reopen their economies to save jobs and living standards, or whether to maintain lockdowns until they are sure the virus is fully under control.
The pope’s words were met with applause by hundreds of people in the square, many of whom wore masks and kept several meters from each other. The square was reopened to the public last Monday. Normally tens of thousands attend on a Sunday.
The last time the pope delivered his message and blessing from the window was March 1, before Italy, where more than 33,000 people have died from the virus, imposed a lockdown. The last restrictions will be lifted on Wednesday.
Francis led the crowd in silent prayer for medical workers who lost their lives by helping others.
He said he hoped the world would come out of the crisis more united, rather than divided.
“People do not come out of a crisis like this the same as before. We will come out either better or worse than before. Let’s have the courage to emerge better than before in order to build the post-crisis period of the pandemic positively,” he said.
(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Susan Fenton)
ANC Looks for New Levers to Boost South Africa's Economy – BNNBloomberg.ca
The head of economic transformation in South Africa’s ruling party proposed a range of measures to bolster the economy, ranging from encouraging the use of pension funds and the central bank to finance infrastructure spending to the creation of a state bank and pharmaceutical company.
Enoch Godongwana’s recommendations to the African National Congress come as the government tries to revive an economy devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Covid-19 shock is posing unprecedented challenges, the economic crisis entailed by the pandemic is unique,” Godongwana said in the May 22 document seen by Bloomberg. “Globally, central banks have reverted to their original role as bankers to their governments.”
While business and investors have been calling for strong government action to support Africa’s most-industrialized economy, the document may heighten concerns about state intervention and so-called prescribed investment — mandatory funding by private companies of certain sectors.
In the document, Godongwana proposed changing regulation 28 of the Pension Funds Act to boost the funding of infrastructure projects spearheaded by state development finance institutions using private capital. South Africa’s main state-owned DFIs are the Industrial Development Corp. and the Development Bank of Southern Africa, of which Godongwana is chairman.
He also suggested that the Reserve Bank help finance DFIs through the creation of a 500 billion-rand ($29 billion) fund. Money should also come from the Public Investment Corp., a 2.13 trillion-rand fund manager that oversees civil servants’ pensions, Godongwana said.
“While it faces increasing continental competition, the South African financial-services sector can rightly be said to endow our emerging-market nation with ‘the financial plumbing of a rich place’ with deep, liquid markets,” he said.
While the document is a break with the thinking of some ANC leaders that the state should be responsible for much of the investment in the economy, it does advocate increased government “guidance.”
“A narrow and flawed understanding of what the developmental state is has led to the erroneous conclusion that it is only about public investments and public ownership, with a related over-emphasis on the limited funds of the state,” he said. “A developmental state does not necessarily mean higher levels of state ownership, but high levels of guidance.”
In an interview with Johannesburg’s Business Times, which reported on the document earlier, Godongwana said the proposals didn’t amount to advocating for prescribed assets. They merely meant that regulations should be changed so that pension funds can invest in DFI’s if they wish to.
Godongwana didn’t answer a call to his mobile phone. Neither did Pule Mabe, the spokesman for the ANC.
The document also proposed the formation of a state bank, a pet project of Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, and a national pharmaceuticals company.
It also advocated, in contrast to the drive of some government departments, a swift move away from coal-fired energy to renewable power. The state-owned Central Energy Fund should be used to partner private investors in new projects, Godongwana said.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Bond Traders Glimpse Yields' Liftoff Potential as Economy Wakens – BNNBloomberg.ca
(Bloomberg) — Investors in the world’s biggest bond market are starting to see what the other side of America’s worst-ever economic downturn could mean for their portfolios.
With more U.S. regions gradually reopening and investor sentiment picking up, the Treasuries yield curve from 5 to 30 years ended May close to the steepest since the height of the virus-fueled market panic more than two months ago.
Traders are betting short-to-medium term rates will be anchored by Federal Reserve stimulus, including potential steps such as capping yields. Meanwhile, they see scope for higher longer-maturity yields amid signs that the most dire economic reports may soon be in the rear-view mirror. Data suggesting the labor market was beginning to rebound last month could cushion the blow from this week’s labor report, which is forecast to show the highest jobless rate since the Great Depression.
“We are going to get the last of the big job-shedding numbers, and that will be important context to help investors judge the depth of the contraction, and what the process of coming out of it will look like,” said Ian Lyngen, a strategist at BMO Capital Markets. “The steepening trade is going to be thematic over the course of the next 12 to 18 months.”
The gap between 5- and 30-year yields surged to end last week at 110 basis points, touching the widest since mid-March. Benchmark 10-year yields were barely changed on the week, ending at around 0.65%.
Last week delivered a reminder of what could limit the upside in yields, with U.S. President Donald Trump intensifying his confrontation with China on Friday. An escalation of tensions between the world’s two biggest economies threatens to curb demand for risky assets and bolster the appetite for Treasuries.
There’s also the obvious uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic’s trajectory and the risk of a second wave of infections. Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned on Friday that a full economic recovery “will really depend on people being confident that it’s safe to go out.”
But green shoots are emerging. Continuing jobless claims fell in the most recent week, the first decline during the pandemic. And St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said the unemployment rate could fall below 10% by December. Data this week are forecast to show it reached 19.6% in May, a level unseen since the Depression.
Even so, bond strategists are coalescing round the view that the Fed later this year will implement a policy of yield-curve control — partly as a way to reinforce guidance that it will keep its main policy rate low for an extended period. The consensus expectation revolves around capping yields on maturities from two to five years.
Although the Fed is about to slow its Treasuries buying again, investors will get a reprieve on the issuance front this week, with only bills on the auction docket. So any move toward further steepening in the days ahead could be telling.
“It would signal the curve may be steepening more so for economic reasons,” said Chris Ahrens, a strategist at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. “The long end seems to be pricing that we are getting to the worst of the bottoming of the economy.”
What to Watch
- Friday’s release of May jobs data is the focus for the economic calendar:
- June 1: Markit U.S. manufacturing PMI; construction spending; ISM manufacturing
- June 2: Wards vehicle sales
- June 3: MBA mortgage applications; ADP employment; Markit U.S. services PMI; factory orders; durable goods; ISM non-manufacturing
- June 4: Challenger job cuts; trade balance; nonfarm productivity; jobless claims; Bloomberg consumer comfort
- June 5: Nonfarm payrolls; consumer credit
- The Fed calendar is empty before the June 10 policy decision
- Auction calendar:
- June 1: 13-, 26-week bills
- June 2: $40 billion 119-day cash-management bill; $65 billion 42-day CMB
- June 4: 4-, 8-week bills
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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