7 March 2019 FT — Articles to Read

7 March 2019


Question: How many Blockbuster stores, i.e. those that rented video cassette tapes and peaked at 9,000 stores at its heyday, are left on the globe?


US rebuke sparks Rome split on Chinese investment overtures – Pg. 1

–          Italy’s move to become the first G7 country to formally endorse China’s Belt and Road global investment drive splintered its governing coalition last night after a sharp White House rebuke led to calls for a rethink in Rome

–          China’s BRI aims to finance and build infrastructure in more than 80 countries in Eurasia, the Middle East and Africa.  The US and big European countries are concerned it favours Chinese companies, creates debt traps for recipient states and is being used to further Beijing’s strategic and military influence

–          The MOUs, while non-binding, outline a framework of co-operation in areas such as trade and infrastructure, often including phrases saying the country “highly appreciates and supports the BRI”

–          Italy’s support would undercut US pressure on China over trade and would undermine Brussels’ efforts to overcome EU divisions over the best approach towards Chinese investments


Blow for Trump as tariff policy fails to halt trade deficit hitting 10-year high – Pg. 1

–          The US trade deficit soared to $621bn last year, its highest in a decade…

–          The US Census Bureau said the trade gap rose 18.8% in December, to $59.8bn – more than expected by economists – as exports fell 1.9% and imports rose 2.1%

–          The overall deficit of $621bn was the largest since 2008, when it hit $709bn.  The US goods deficit was $891bn, the largest on record

–          China…accounted for nearly half that total, increasing $43.6bn to $419.2bn last year

–          Economists say a strong US economy was a big factor contributing to the imbalances, with buoyant US consumers buying more from overseas as foreign counterparts buy fewer US goods


OECD slashes Eurozone economic growth forecasts – Pg. 4

–          …expects GDP to grow just 1% year-on-year in 2019 and 1.2% in 2020, …

–          As recently as November it had forecast expansion of 1.8% and 1.6%

–          The OECD has cut its forecasts for almost all the world’s leading economies but some of the biggest downgrades were Germany, where it expects growth of just 0.7% this year and 1.1% in 2020, and for Italy, where it predicts a recession

–          The eurozone’s weakness is a drag on global growth, which the OECD expects to ease to 3.3% this year and 3.4% in 2020

–          The other big risk to the global economy would be a sharper Chinese slowdown.  The OECD assumes that stimulus measures will offset weakness in trade and private demand, and its forecast for China is broadly in line with Beijing’s new target for economic growth of between 6 and 6.5% in 2019.  But it warned that a more pronounced slowdown would have a significant effect


Australia held in check by falling house prices – Pg. 4

–          Australia reported lower than expected growth last year as a steep housing downturn and lackluster consumer spending ignited broader concerns about the economic outlook

–          GDP for the three months to the end of December grew 0.2% over the previous quarter, lower than the 0.3% forecast….

–          The annual growth rate was 2.3%, …

–          Australia has experienced one of the longest periods of growth without recession in the developed world, mainly because of high rates of population growth and bountiful mineral resources

–          But it is battling the twin challenges posed by slower growth in China, its biggest trading partner, and a domestic housing downturn that some economists have warned could end its run

–          House prices have fallen 10% in Sydney and 9% in Melbourne over the past 12 months because of tight credit conditions and a lack of affordability.  The downturn has also caused a sharp drop in dwellings investment, which fell 3.4% quarter-on-quarter

–          The Australian central bank on Tuesday held rates steady at 1.5%, although it left the door open to rate cuts amid pressure on the global economy and the downturn in the domestic housing market


US approves first new drug for depression in 30 years – Pg. 12

–          The FDA approved esketamine, which will be sold under the name Spravato, for adults who have already tried at least two other antidepressant treatments

–          As the first new type of antidepressant since Prozac was released more than 30 years ago, it was given a “break-through therapy” designation and fast-tracked through the approval process

–          Clinical trials showed the spray could have an effect in as little as two days.  In longer-term trials, patients taking the spray on top of their existing antidepressant showed statistically significance delays in relapsing into depression

–          Esketamine acts on a completely different system than previous antidepressants, which work on the brain chemicals serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.  It works on the glutamate system, which process information and memory.  It is thought to help restore connections between brain cells for a rapid and sustained improvement


Bulls pull away from herd in drive to prove pessimists wrong – Pg. 19

–          Equities have enjoyed a dramatic V-shaped recovery from December’s mayhem, posting their best start to a year in almost three decades


Instability fears grow as China’s property developers binge on record dollar debt – Pg. 19

–          As growth wanes, developers are raising more money than they need to roll over existing borrowings, amplifying concerns for a stability of the market

–          The value of bond issuance from developers in the first two months of the year was about 136% more than the same period last year, …

–          Many of the deals have raised money at interest rates above 10%.  At the same time, the average tenors of the debts have shrunk to an average of 2.7year in the three months to the end of January…


Answer: One!