Property and the pandemic: the great reckoning that never seems to arrive
When the wolves came to Ziel Feldman’s door, it was a triplex penthouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Feldman, chief executive of HFZ Capital, one of the city’s swankiest developers, was forced in December to put his own house up for sale — asking price: $39m — after creditors sued to foreclose on several of his faltering condominium projects. To many in the real estate world, that event looked like a harbinger of doom. By then, lenders had granted months of forbearance after the Covid pandemic paralysed New York City last March. The expectation in the industry was that many would call time on delinquent borrowers in the new year, touching off a great reckoning after a decade-long rally that has bequeathed plenty of questionable projects. “The non-performing loans are coming!” Laurie Golub of Square Mile Capital warned in November at the annual conference hosted by New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate, claiming that lenders had been “coddling” borrowers. “Don’t expect creditors to extend forbearance much longer,” another panellist agreed. One analyst likened the situation to a storm cloud on the horizon poised to burst at the first crack of lightning. But a strange thing has happened since then: creditors have broadly held fast, creating a period of leniency that is approaching a full year for some borrowers, and has persisted longer than any seasoned professionals can recall.
Ziel Feldman, chief executive of HFZ Capital, was forced to put his penthouse up for sale for $39m after creditors sued to foreclose on several of his faltering condominium projects
“Maybe a single asset or borrower has gotten relief like this. But never on this scale,” says Norman Radow, who made his name in distressed real estate by cleaning up Lehman Brothers’ real estate portfolio after the 2008 crisis. His company, Radco, now owns thousands of apartment units across the country. The can is being kicked down the proverbial road on an unprecedented scale, according to Radow. “What happens when it stops rolling?” he asks. “That is the answer we all want to know.” Real Capital Analytics, a research firm, classified $146bn in commercial real estate assets as being in distress — or soon to be — by the fourth quarter last year. Two-thirds of that was accounted for by retail and hotels. The distressed debt pile bulged in the second quarter last year, but has since accumulated more gradually. Distressed sales have so far been few. The far more common approach has been for creditors to show further patience for assets they believe will have value on the other side of the pandemic. Often that means pushing for recapitalisations or refinancings in order to buy time.

Deal by deal

In late December, Ashford Hospitality Trust, which owns a portfolio of upscale hotels, warned investors it was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. It ended up signing forbearance agreements on $1bn in loans, and secured a loan of up to $350m from Oaktree Capital that management believes will see it through to recovery. “For now, as a lender, it’s really on a deal-by-deal basis,” says Billy Meyer, of Columbia Pacific Advisors, which recently launched the Columbia Recovery Fund to provide bridge financing for Covid-stricken borrowers. “If there’s a good probability that the property recovers then lenders will try to work with borrowers.” Meyer and other real estate investors are now debating whether the great reckoning that many foresaw is still just another quarter away — or perhaps may not come at all. If so, then a property crisis that began unlike any other — precipitated by a once-in-a-century pandemic — may also have a unique aftermath.
A mostly empty 42nd Street in Manhattan last March when the pandemic paralysed New York City
Jordan Roeschlaub, vice-chair of capital markets at Newmark Knight Frank, a commercial real estate broker, is among those who have reassessed their view of the market. “Everyone sort of anticipated towards the middle end of last year that in the beginning of Q1 there’s going to be this floodgate of credit positions sold in the secondary marketplace, and there’s going to be a lot of distress. Quite frankly, it hasn’t come,” he says. “I don’t know if it will.” Part of the reason, Roeschlaub and others agree, is the enormous amount of capital chasing real estate investments at a time when bond yields are so low. By some estimates, there is more than $300bn in “dry powder” waiting to be deployed. Those funds are helping to create a floor under property values. The speedy rollout of effective vaccines has created a sense that there is, at last, light at the end of the tunnel if borrowers can endure just a bit longer until health restrictions are lifted and full economic activity resumes. In the meantime, the Federal Reserve’s extraordinarily loose monetary policy has made it easier for many to do so, according to Fred Harmeyer, who manages the debt portfolio at Rubenstein Partners, a real estate investment firm. At the outset of the crisis, in late March, mortgage lenders sponsored by TPG and Angelo Gordon wobbled as their portfolios sank in value, forcing them to raise collateral. It appeared to be the crack of lightning.
But the market has stabilised since then. “I think people expected when Covid first occurred — just as they expected during the great financial crisis — to suddenly see a disgorgement of assets, and there would be great distressed buying opportunities. With the Fed stepping in, you haven’t seen that level of instant distress,” says Harmeyer. Still, there have been some notable cases, including regional shopping malls taken over by lenders, and Harmeyer has seen assets quietly put on the market in recent months. “I think it’s likely we’ll see more of that,” he predicts. One reason that lenders are extending “forbearance upon their forbearance,” as one put it, is that they have no choice. Governments have placed restrictions on evictions and foreclosures during the pandemic. Many courts are either closed or backed up. It has also helped that banks have entered the crisis with far less leverage than they did in 2008. Pierre Debbas, a real estate lawyer in New York at Romer Debbas, says Manhattan landlords, by and large, were also in better financial shape, allowing many to muddle by with reduced cash flows from tenants. “I would project that banks will lean towards restructuring debt simultaneously with landlords restructuring a significant amount of their leases and that the city will not experience a major spike in foreclosure actions,” he adds.
Hudson Yards in Manhattan, which opened in 2019 and comprises luxury apartments, shops and restaurants, has struggled during the pandemic

Beds, sheds and meds

A less salutary reason for lenders to extend leniency is that they do not want to be saddled with undesirable assets — particularly hotels and brick-and-mortar retail. Both faced questionable prospects even before the crisis — whether because of oversupply or the rise of ecommerce. Their problems have only deepened as Covid has accelerated changes in consumer behaviour. It is difficult, for example, to say when — if ever — business travel will return to pre-pandemic levels, and therefore, what the value is of a business hotel. Developers trying to sell a glut of luxury condominiums in New York are also likely to suffer. One investor predicts “a musical chairs of capital partners and lenders slowly wiping each other out”. On the flipside, real estate categories such as industrial warehouses, which are vital nodes for ecommerce businesses, have thrived in the pandemic. So have life sciences developments, which house biotechnology companies and pharmaceutical laboratories. Housing, outside New York City and San Francisco, has also held up.
The Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan, which opened in 1924, was permanently closed in late 2020. The pandemic’s severe impact on business travel has had a knock-on effect on hotels
“The bottom line is, you’ve got buckets of in-favour, and buckets of out-of-favour,” says Doug Harmon, chair of capital markets at Cushman & Wakefield. In the real estate services firm’s new strategy report, it is recommending “beds, sheds and meds” to investors. Somewhere in between those buckets are office buildings, the biggest chunk of the property market and one whose future has become a matter of intense debate. Even with the rise of flexible working, some see them retaining their value after the pandemic eases — albeit with capital investments to enhance their public health features and make them cherished meeting places for collaborating workers. Others, such as Michael Silver, chairman of Vestian, which advises tenants on commercial real estate, believe that is fanciful. Silver is convinced that working from home is a revolution in its early stages, and that office properties will eventually see their values shredded by 30 per cent or more. “If you listened to developers in March, they were pounding their chest and saying, ‘This is an aberration. Everything is going to come back to the way it was.’ It’s not,” Silver says.
Office buildings in lower Manhattan. The future of such places, now that many people have experienced working from home, has become a matter of intense debate

Patience wearing thin

One lender who has concluded that the time for patience has passed is Richard Mack, chairman of Mack Real Estate Group and a third-generation New York developer. “Unless there are extraordinary circumstances, we just can’t give people any more forbearance at this moment,” he says. In December, his firm initiated foreclosure proceedings against the developers of a condominium project in Brooklyn who had fallen behind on payments. The matter is now being fought in court. The arrival of a Covid vaccine has not persuaded Mack to shift his stance. “Just to say: ‘we have a vaccine, everything returns to normal.’ No, I don’t think that happens,” he explains. “Even with a vaccine, business travel is not coming back right away. Even with a vaccine, people are going to work from home more, which is going to impact office. Even with a vaccine, people are going to continue to expand their online shopping. All of this was true pre-Covid and it’s accelerated post-Covid.” Two reference points for real estate veterans trying to make sense of the current crisis and how its aftermath might play out are the crashes the industry suffered in the early 1990s and then following the 2008 financial crisis. In the first case, the wider economy was generally healthy but real estate was troubled, thanks to tax laws that encouraged too much building. The result was tremendous amounts of distressed properties that allowed savvy investors like Sam Zell, the self-proclaimed “grave dancer”, to amass great fortunes. In 2008, real estate was dragged down by a financial crisis. Commercial properties were again battered. But quality ones ended up bouncing back sooner than many investors expected. Mack sees features of both crises in the current one: for troubled assets — particularly retail and hotels — he predicts a more painful and prolonged early 1990s-style experience while others could rebound quickly, more akin to 2008. Rising sunbelt cities are in favour; New York City and San Francisco are out.

‘People capitulate’

One thing that has changed since 2008, and will probably influence how the next phase of this crisis plays out, is the composition of lenders. Like Mack, many developers have launched debt funds to take over the riskier forms of real estate lending that banks retreated from after the 2008 crisis. Such funds, which tend to seek higher yields to compensate their investors, only accounted for 7 per cent of the real estate lending market in 2015, according to RCA. By 2019, their share had grown to 22 per cent. “A lot of the banks ended up just kind of focusing on the most institutional clients and really holding back on leverage, de-risking their portfolios. And I think that’s what really opened the door for a lot of these private lenders to step in,” says Scott Modelski, a managing director at Blackbear Capital Partners, a commercial real estate brokerage.
A $17.5m condo in the world’s tallest residential skyscraper, Central Park Tower in Manhattan. Extell Development is struggling to sell all the luxury apartments in the building
How those lenders will behave in their first big crisis is uncertain. One view is that they will be more nimble than banks because they are less encumbered by regulation, and therefore better able to negotiate solutions with borrowers short of foreclosure. But some of these firms — although they do not advertise it — are in the business of “loan to own”, and will look to foreclose. (Among the lenders to foreclose on Feldman and HFZ was the lending arm of another developer, CIM Group). Still others may themselves be reeling as the riskier loans they made late in the cycle are now souring. “Some of the opportunity funds that went up the scale of risk, they are going to get hurt. No question about it,” Gary Barnett, founder of Extell Development, which pioneered the supertall luxury condominiums that overlook Central Park — and is now struggling to sell them, predicted late last year. “Most of the banks will not get hurt. The banks did not, generally, go too far up. They’ll get their money back, one way or another.”
A lone woman wearing a mask walks around a deserted Central Park in Manhattan, overlooked by luxury high-rise apartments, many of which lie empty
In February, Barnett sold a stake in two Manhattan apartment buildings for more than $300m, helping to tide him over while his new $3bn luxury tower languishes. The buyer was Scott Rechler, the head of RXR Realty, and another New York property scion. It was the type of opportunity that Rechler believes will increasingly be on offer for developers with access to capital as others come under strain. He still anticipates properties and loans falling into outright distress — but it will take time. That is because many assets will have to be repurposed — say, converting a middling office building to apartments, or a shopping mall to an industrial warehouse. For those deals to be viable, prices will have to fall further. “You need to wait to get to the point that the lender takes over and that the lender is written off, and then it clears at a price that makes sense,” he says. “Eventually people capitulate.” How long that might take is unclear. When the real estate market began to collapse in 1990 it was not until 1993 or 1994 that Rechler’s previous firm, Reckson, began to see opportunities to buy. Rechler sold Reckson in January 2007, then raised $9bn in private equity funding and did not return to the market until August 2009. “We’re probably right now still in 2008,” he says, by way of comparison. Then again, even longtime real estate investors are hesitant to draw comparisons with a crisis like no other. “With Covid, because no one’s ever lived through a downturn that was self-inflicted by turning off the economy, no one really knows when you turn on the economy how fast it’s going to come back,” Rechler says. “So people are holding out hope.”
群狼来到了齐尔·费尔德曼(Ziel Feldman)家的门前,那是曼哈顿上东区的一套三层顶楼公寓。费尔德曼是曼哈顿最时髦的开发商之一--HFZ Capital的首席执行官。去年12月,他被迫将自己的房子挂牌出售,要价3900万美元,此前,针对他旗下几个风雨飘摇的公寓项目,债权人发起了诉讼,要求取消他的赎回权。 在许多房地产业内人士看来,这一事件是厄运的预兆。在去年3月的疫情令纽约市陷入瘫痪之后,贷款机构已经给予了数月的宽容期。业界曾预计,许多人将在新的一年里对拖欠的借款人进行催收,从而触发一波巨大的清算。过去十年的市场反弹,已经遗留了大量的问题项目。 “不良贷款来了!”去年11月,在纽约大学(New York University)沙克房地产研究所(Schack Institute of Real Estate)举办的年度会议上,Square Mile Capital的劳里•戈卢布(Laurie Golub)发出警告,称贷款机构一直在“宠溺”借款人。另一名与会者表示赞同:“别指望债权人会让债务延期拖得更久。”一位分析人士将目前的形势比作地平线上的乌云,随时可能伴着第一道闪电的出现而炸裂。 但自那以后奇怪的事情发生了:债权人大体上坚持了下来,为借款人们创造了接近一年的宽限期,其持续时长超过了专业人士们所能回忆起的任何先例。
"或许个别的资产项目或者借贷人曾因此得到解脱。但如此之大的规模却从未发生过。"诺曼•拉多(Norman Radow)说,他在2008年金融危机后,因清理雷曼兄弟的房地产投资组合而在不良房地产领域成名。他的公司Radco如今在美国拥有数千套公寓。 根据拉多的说法,罐子正以前所未有的规模被踢下公路。“当它停止滚动时会发生什么?”他问。“这是我们都想知道的答案。” 研究公司Real Capital Analytics认为,截至去年第四季度,有1460亿美元的商业房地产资产已经处于或即将陷入困境。其中三分之二来自零售业和酒店业。不良债务在去年第二季度大幅增加,但自那以后开始渐进地积累。 到目前为止,低价出售的情况还很少。更为普遍的做法是,对于他们所认为的在疫情过后会有价值的资产,债权人表现出更多的耐心。这通常意味着推动资本重组或再融资,以争取时间。


去年12月底,拥有高档酒店投资组合的Ashford Hospitality Trust警告投资者,该公司正处于破产的边缘。该公司最终签署了10亿美元贷款的延期偿付协议,并从橡树资本(Oaktree Capital)获得了至多3.5亿美元的贷款。管理层认为,这笔贷款将帮助该公司渡过难关,走向复苏。 哥伦比亚太平洋咨询公司(Columbia Pacific Advisors)的比利•迈耶(Billy Meyer)表示:“目前,作为一家贷款机构,它真的是在以协议叠加协议(deal-by-deal)为基础。”该公司最近推出了哥伦比亚复苏基金(Columbia Recovery Fund),为受到新冠疫情影响的借款人提供过渡性融资。“如果房地产市场很有可能复苏,那么放贷机构就会试图与借款人合作。” 迈耶和其他房地产投资者们正在争论,预言中的大清算究竟会在一个季度内降临,还是根本不会发生?如果是这样的话,这场由百年不遇的大流行病所催生,开局与以往任何危机都不同的房产危机,可能也会留下独特的后遗症。
商业房地产经纪公司Newmark Knight Frank负责资本市场的副主席乔丹•罗斯劳布(Jordan Roeschlaub),是重估自己对市场看法的人士之一。“在去年中下旬,每个人都有所预估:在今年第一季度初期,二级市场将出现信贷头寸抛售的泛滥,这将带来很多压力。坦率地说,这种情况还没有到来。我不知道是否还会来。” 罗斯劳布和其他人都认为,部分原因在于,正值债券收益率如此之低的时点,有大量的资金在追逐房地产投资。根据一些估计,有超过3000亿美元的 "干粉 "等待部署。这些资金正在为房地产市场创造价值底线。 有效疫苗的迅速推出让人们觉得,如果借贷人能再忍耐一段时间,直到公共卫生限制举措被解除,经济活动全面恢复,希望终会到来。 与此同时,房地产投资公司Rubenstein Partners负责债务投资组合的弗雷德·哈迈耶(Fred Harmeyer)表示,美联储异常宽松的货币政策让很多人更容易这么做。在疫情危机爆发之初,也就是去年3月底,TPG和Angelo Gordon赞助的抵押贷款机构因其投资组合价值下跌而摇摇欲坠,这迫使他们筹集抵押品。当时,此事看上去像是警钟已被敲响。
但此后市场便开始企稳。"我认为,当新冠疫情爆发时,人们就已经预计到会有资产被脱手,进而出现承压的购买机会,就像他们在金融危机期间所预料的那样。但随着美联储的介入,至今也没有看到金融危机时期那种程度的机会,"哈迈耶说。不过,还是有一些值得注意的案例,包括区域性购物中心被贷款人接管。哈迈耶还注意到,最近几个月有些资产被悄然投放到市场上。"我认为我们很可能会看到更多类似的情况,"他预测。 有观点认为,贷款人之所以“一忍再忍”,原因之一在于他们别无选择。疫情期间,各国政府对驱逐和止赎进行了限制。许多法院要么关闭要么加以支持。这也让银行得以以远低于2008年的杠杆率迎接危机。 Romer Debbas驻纽约的房地产律师皮埃尔•德巴斯(Pierre Debbas)表示,总体而言,曼哈顿房东们的财务状况也较好,这让许多人能够在租户现金流减少的情况下勉强度日。他补充称:“我预计,银行将倾向于在房主重组大量租约的同时重组债务,纽约市将不会经历止赎行动的大幅飙升。


贷款人之所以延长宽限,一个不那么健康的理由是,他们不希望被不良资产拖累,特别是酒店和实体零售业。这两个行业在危机之前就已经面临可疑的前景,无论是因为供应过剩还是电子商务的兴起。随着疫情加速推进了消费者的行为变化,它们的问题只会越来越深。例如,很难说商务旅行何时会恢复到疫情前的水平,如果还有那一天的话。那么商务酒店的价值又是什么呢? 试图在纽约销售大量豪华公寓的开发商也可能受到影响。一位投资者预测,“资本合伙人和贷款人之间将上演一场“抢椅子游戏”,慢慢地彼此消灭。” 另一方面,作为电子商务重要节点的工业仓库等房地产类别,则在疫情中蓬勃发展。坐拥生物技术公司和制药实验室的生命科学地产项目也是如此。纽约市和旧金山以外的住房市场同样未受波及。
Cushman&Wakefield公司的资本市场主管道格•哈蒙(Doug Harmon)表示:“底线在于,有受追捧的项目,也有不受欢迎的项目。”这家房地产服务公司的最新战略报告中,向投资者推荐了“床铺、棚屋和药”。 介于受欢迎和不受欢迎之间的是写字楼,这是房地产市场中最大的一块,其未来已成为人们激烈争论的话题。尽管灵活工作制蓬勃兴起,但一些人认为,在疫情缓和后,这些场所仍能保持其价值,尽管它们需要进行资本投资,以增强公共卫生功能,并力求成为受员工们青睐的会议场所。 而其他一些人,比如为租户提供商业地产咨询服务的Vestian公司董事长迈克尔•西尔弗(Michael Silver),则认为这是异想天开。西尔弗相信,在家办公是一场尚处于早期阶段的革命,办公地产的价值最终将被碾压掉30%甚至更多。 “如果你在去年3月份去听那些开发者们的意见,他们都会拍着胸脯说:‘这只是一种反常现象。一切都会回到原来的样子。’不会的,”西尔弗说。


Mack Real Estate Group的董事长Richard Mack是纽约第三代开发商,他认为耐心的时限已过。他说:“除非特殊情况,否则我们现在不能再忍耐了。” 去年12月,他的公司启动了对布鲁克林一个共管公寓项目开发商的止赎程序,这些开发商拖欠了款项。此事目前正在法庭上打官司。 新冠病毒疫苗的到来并没有说服Mack改变立场。“如果认为‘有了疫苗,一切就会恢复正常。’不,我认为这种情况不会发生。即使有了疫苗,商务旅行也不会马上回来。即使有了疫苗,人们也会更多地在家工作,这将对办公室产生影响。即使有了疫苗,人们也会继续扩大他们的网上购物。这一切在疫情之前就是事实,在疫情之后它们的进程都加速了。” 对于那些试图理解当前危机及其后果的房地产业老手们来说,有两个时点可供参考:那就是在上世纪90年代初和2008年的金融危机之后,该行业所经历的崩溃。 在第一种情况下,经济总体上是健康的,但由于税收律法推动了过多的建筑,房地产行业陷入了困境。其结果是产生了大量的不良资产,让山姆•泽尔(Sam Zell)等精明的投资者积累了巨额财富。泽尔曾自诩“坟头舞者”。 2008年,房地产受到金融危机的拖累。商业地产再次受到冲击。但最终优质房产公司的反弹速度比很多投资者预期的更快。 Mack认为,两次危机各有特点:对于陷入困境的资产--尤其是零售业和酒店,他预测会出现像20世纪90年代初那样更痛苦、更漫长的煎熬,而其他资产则可能迅速反弹,和2008年的情况相似。新崛起的阳光地带城市将受到青睐;纽约市和旧金山则被排除在外。


自2008年以来,有一件事发生了变化,而且它很可能会影响这场危机下一阶段的结果,那就是贷款机构的业务组成。与Mack一样,许多开发商也推出了债务基金,接管2008年金融危机后银行所撤出的风险较高的房地产贷款。根据RCA的数据,这类基金倾向于寻求更高收益率来报偿其投资者,它们在2015年仅占房地产贷款市场的7%。到2019年,其份额已升至22%。 “许多银行最终只是把注意力集中在多数机构客户身上,这实际上抑制了杠杆,降低了投资组合的风险。我认为,这确实为许多私人贷款机构的介入打开了大门,”商业房地产经纪公司Blackbear Capital Partners董事总经理斯科特•莫德斯基(Scott Modelski)表示。
这些贷款人将在他们首次面对的危机中作何表现尚不确定。但有一种观点认为,它们将比银行更加灵活,因为它们受监管的限制较少,因此能够更好地与没有丧失抵押品赎回权的借款人洽谈解决方案。 然而尽管没有过多宣扬,这些公司当中,有些所从事的是“贷款换所有权”的业务,并将寻求终止抵押品赎回权。(在取消费尔德曼和HFZ抵押品赎回权的贷款一众机构中,就有另一家开发商CIM集团的贷款部门)。还有一些公司可能也已经陷入麻烦,因为他们在经济周期末期所发放的风险更高的贷款目前正在恶化。 “一些风险规模上升的机会基金将受到冲击,这毫无疑问,“Extell Development的创始人加里·巴尼特(Gary Barnett)去年年底预测道。该公司率先建造了俯瞰中央公园的超高层豪华公寓,目前正艰难地出售这些房产。“大多数银行不会受到伤害。总体而言,银行并没有走的太远。不管怎样,他们都会拿回自己的钱。“
今年2月,巴尼特以超过3亿美元的价格出售了曼哈顿两座公寓楼的股份,当时他新落成的价值30亿美金的豪华大厦正值经济低迷期。买家是RXR Realty的负责人斯科特·雷克勒(Scott Rechler)和另一位纽约房地产商的后裔。雷克勒认为,随着其他开发商面临压力,手握资金的开发商们将面对越来越多的类似机会。 他仍然预计房地产和贷款将陷入彻底的困境,但还需要一段时间。这是因为许多房产项目的用途将不得不重新定位。例如,将一座中等规模的写字楼改建为公寓,或者将购物中心改建为工业仓库。要想让这些交易可行,价格就要进一步下跌。“你需要等待,直到贷款人接管,贷款人被注销,然后项目才能以合理的价格清算。”他说:“人们最终会放弃抵抗。” 这个过程预计需要多长时间还不清楚。1990年房地产市场开始崩溃时,直到1993年或1994年,雷克勒拥有的上一家公司Reckson才开始看到买入的机会。雷克勒在2007年1月出售了Reckson,然后通过私人股本融资筹集了90亿美元,直到2009年8月才重返市场。 “相比之下,我们现在可能仍处于2008年,”他说。即使是长期的房地产投资者也不愿将眼下的危机与以往任何一场危机进行比较。 “对于新冠疫情危机,由于没有人经历过因关停经济而导致的衰退,因此没人真正知道当经济重启时,会以多快的速度恢复,”雷切勒说。“所以人们仍抱有希望。”
Lex Letter from New York: private equity’s high nursing home death rates
Dear readers, It has been a brutal 12 months for the US nursing home industry. Senior living centres have been ground zero for the coronavirus pandemic, with roughly one-third of overall deaths occurring in care homes. The headlines continue to be bleak, even as vaccinations are rolled out. This is a good moment to look at the business models behind the homes. A group of researchers from top US universities — Penn, New York and Chicago — have examined the role of private equity in patient outcomes in the nursing home industry. The conclusions of their working paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research are damning: PE management led to an increase in short-term mortality of Medicare patients by 10 per cent. This is an implied 20,000 lives over the 12-year sample period. Moreover, taxpayer spending per patient went up even as expenditures shifted away from residents towards monitoring fees, interest expense and lease payments. The study period was closed before the pandemic began. But the timing of the report’s release is noteworthy. The inequities of the US healthcare system have become painfully clear in the past year. The Financial Times reported on Tuesday that top PE bosses took home hundreds of millions of dollars in dividends and deal profits last year, making for a wrenching juxtaposition. 
Top 10 US PE nursing home deals
Nursing homePE firmYearNumber of facilities
Genesis HealthcareFormation Capital, JER Partners2007–15327
Golden LivingFillmore Capital Partners2006321
Kindred HealthcareSignature Healthcare, Hillview Capital2014150
HCR ManorCareStockwell Capital, The Carlyle Group2007–18145
Mariner HealthcareFillmore Capital Partners200495
Skilled Healthcare GroupOnex, Heritage Partners2005–0776
Trilogy InvestorsLydian Capital Partners2007–1565
Lavie Care CentersFormation Capital, Senior Care Development201161
Laurel Health Care CompanyFormation Capital, Longwing Real Estate Ventures2006–1641
Harden HealthcareNXT Capital, Oaktree Speciality Lending201335
Source: NBER working paper
According to US government statistics, healthcare spending consumed 18 per cent of gross domestic product in 2019 — almost $12,000 worth of spending per person. The private sector-focused approach supposedly fosters patient choice, innovation and better outcomes. But the system is complex and burdensome for most. The authors of the report into nursing homes expressed some surprise that PE had taken such a strong interest in the sector, calling it a “puzzle” since profit margins were about 2 per cent or less. But there are many reasons why the sector would be a natural target: the US population is ageing, healthcare spending is growing faster than GDP, government programmes such as Medicare and Medicaid often pick up the tab and real estate holdings allow for high leverage.  Then there is the chance to apply the PE playbook. The authors found that PE-owned nursing homes were associated with a 50 per cent increase in the probability of taking antipsychotic medications even as “patient mobility declines and pain intensity increases post-acquisition”. Staffing declines and hours spent with patients were also observed in the study. PE tends to ascribe dollars to most operating decisions and the professors of this report do the same. In 2016, a “mortality cost” formula implied a $21bn charge to patient deaths — basically a figure that reflects the price of excess deaths. The $21bn charge, the authors noted, was more than twice the sum that facilities received in Medicare reimbursements.  Critiques of PE tend to focus on busted retailers and the resulting tens of thousands of job losses. This study extends the scrutiny to life and death. The American Investment Council, the PE industry’s advocacy group, did not respond to a request for comment. But its homepage boasts that “private equity is improving healthcare”. The hope is that when the pandemic ends, nursing homes will learn and apply best practices for the next health emergency. But the natural follow-up research question is obvious: Did PE-backed nursing homes underperform during the darkest days of 2020? Enjoy the rest of your week, Sujeet Indap US Lex editor
亲爱的读者, 对于美国养老院行业来说,这是残酷的12个月。老年人生活中心一直是疫情爆发的中心,大约三分之一的死亡病例发生在养老院。尽管疫苗已经推出,但新闻的标题依然凄凉。 现在正是审视护理机构背后商业模式的好时机。来自美国顶尖大学——宾夕法尼亚大学、纽约大学和芝加哥大学的一组研究人员,研究了在疗养院行业中,私募股权基金对患者结果产生的作用。他们为美国国家经济研究局(National Bureau of Economic Research)撰写的论文得出惊人结论:私募股权管理导致医疗保险病人的短期死亡率增加了10%。这意味着,在12年的样本期内,失去了2万条生命。此外,纳税人对每位患者的支出也增加了,尽管这些支出从居民支出转向了监管费用、利息支出和租赁支付。 该项研究的研究期在新冠疫情开始前就已结束,但报告发布的时机却引人注目。美国医疗系统的不公平现象在过去一年里变得格外显著。《金融时报》周二报道称,顶级私募的老板去年拿下了数亿美元的分红和交易利润,此中反差,不禁让人感慨万千。 根据美国政府的统计数据,2019年医疗支出占国内生产总值(GDP)的18%,相当于人均支出了近1.2万美元。以私营部门为重点的方法据称有助于促进患者选择、创新和更好的理疗成果。但该系统对大多数人而言,是复杂且繁重的。 该报告的作者对私募基金如此热衷这一领域感到有些惊讶,称其为“谜题”,因为这一行业的利润率约为2%或更低。但有不少理由说明,养老板块会成为一个天然的投资目标:美国人口正在老龄化,医疗支出的增长速度超过了GDP的增长速度,医疗保障和医疗补助等政府项目往往会为其买单,而且持有房地产可以实现高杠杆。 然后就有机会实施私募基金的游戏规则了。作者发现,服用抗精神病药物的可能性增加50%与私募基金背景的疗养院有关联,尽管“患者活动能力下降,疼痛强度在服药后增加”。研究还观察到人员配备的减少以及与患者相处时间不足等问题。 私募基金倾向于将大多数经营决策诉诸于资金,撰写本报告的教授们也是这么做的。根据2016年的“死亡率成本”公式,患者死亡的费用达到210亿美元——这个数字基本上反映了超额死亡(excess deaths)的代价。作者指出,210亿美元的费用,是医疗机构在联邦医疗保险(Medicare)报销中所获金额的两倍多。 对私募股权的批评往往集中在破产的零售商、以及由此导致的数万人失业等问题上。这项研究则将审视范围延伸到了生与死。 私募股权行业的倡导组织American Investment Council没有回应记者的置评请求。但其主页上吹嘘道,“私募基金正在改善医疗保健”。 希望当流行病结束时,养老院将能够习得并且落实最佳的实践方法,以应对下一次公共健康危机。但后续的研究课题已经显而易见的:在2020年最黑暗的日子里,私募股权投资的养老院是否表现不佳? 祝您本周接下来的日子一切顺遂
Will ‘copycat economics’ in emerging markets have to end?
The writer is head of emerging markets economics at Citi How do policymakers in emerging economies decide how to run their countries? The answer has a lot to do with how policymakers in advanced economies do things. There is a copycat tendency or, put more politely, a “demonstration effect”: the policy choices of governments in developed countries create a menu of options from which governments in emerging economies make choices. That fact makes for an uncomfortable prognosis these days. Developed countries are loosening policy to an extent that, if echoed by emerging economies, could end badly for some. For most of the past few decades, the tendency among EM policymakers to take ideas from advanced economies has been remarkably helpful. One example of this is the history of trade liberalisation. In the 1960s and 1970s, the US and western European countries were busy cutting tariffs and reducing non-tariff barriers to trade. Seeing the fruits of this, developing countries followed suit in the 1980s and 1990s to boost growth rates. Another example is inflation targeting, which has now been adopted by a succession of emerging economies.   International economic integration and declining inflation have been generally good news for emerging economies. But it’s not so obvious emerging economies can follow all the latest fashions with equal success. What characterises policymaking in advanced economies these days is, on the one hand, a bias towards apparently unrestrained fiscal expansion; and, on the other, central banks that are cooperatively keeping the cost of that debt down through bond purchases. This subordination of the central bank to the finance ministry has a name: “fiscal dominance”. It was a common enough feature of policymaking in the decades after the second world war, but gradually lost its appeal when inflation started to make itself visible in the 1970s, which led to an era of “monetary dominance” as central banks were handed more and more authority to control inflation. Now we’re back in a low-inflation world, fiscal policy has the upper hand and central banks are accommodative. This arrangement seems to work fine in rich countries, where investors are still happy to hold government debt even though there’s so much more of it yielding diminishing returns. The reason these countries can get away with this is they have something that emerging economies generally lack, namely monetary credibility. And that’s painful for countries such as Brazil and South Africa. These two have exceptionally high public debt burdens: Citi estimates Brazil’s is nearly 95 per cent of gross domestic product, and South Africa’s is 75 per cent. Debt burdens this big are particularly worrying because in each of these countries the long-term inflation-adjusted interest rate is considerably higher than the rate at which these economies are likely to grow in the foreseeable future. That gap between the real interest rate and the real growth rate will cause problems over time. So why can’t Brazil or South Africa just implement copycat economics and get their central banks to buy bonds, reduce the long-term interest rate to tolerable levels, and keep on spending? The reason is that, because these countries’ lack of growth potential inhibits the credibility of their money, investors want compensation for the risk of owning Brazilian or South African debt. If yields get pushed down too low through intervention by central banks, investors will begin to feel unrewarded, and the result will be capital outflows and endlessly weakening currencies. In the end, the only response to this might have to be stopping money leaving the country by imposing capital controls. There’s no easy way around this: copycat economics seems to have found its limit. Or has it? Last month India’s government, already sitting on a debt stock worth some 90 per cent of GDP, announced its intention to run large budget deficits for years, while the Reserve Bank of India has launched a bond-buying effort designed to put a ceiling on Indian bond yields at 6 per cent in nominal terms. So far the market’s reaction has been forgiving. India’s monetary credibility is intact, for now, largely thanks to the market’s confidence that the country can grow fast in the future. Good luck to India, and to Brazil and South Africa should they follow. For investors looking at EMs, finding places where copycat economics still works may become a valuable skill.
本文作者是花旗(Citi)新兴市场经济主管 新兴经济体的政策制定者如何决定如何管理他们的国家?答案在很大程度上与发达经济体的政策制定者的行事方式有关。 这是一种模仿趋势,或者更委婉地说,是一种“示范效应”:发达国家政府的政策选择创造了一份可供新兴经济体政府选择的选项菜单。 如今,这一事实导致了一种令人不安的后果。发达国家放宽政策的程度,如果被新兴经济体效仿,可能会给一些国家带来糟糕的结局。 在过去几十年的大部分时间里,新兴市场的政策制定者倾向于从发达经济体中获取想法,这对他们的帮助非常大。贸易自由化的历史就是一个例子。在20世纪60年代和70年代,美国和西欧国家忙于削减关税和减少非关税贸易壁垒。发展中国家看到了这一成果,在20世纪80年代和90年代纷纷效仿,以提高增长率。另一个例子是通货膨胀目标,现在已经有一批新兴经济体相继采用。 对新兴经济体来说,国际经济一体化和通胀下降总体上是好消息。但新兴经济体能否跟上所有最新潮流,并取得同样的成功,就不那么明显了。 现在发达经济体决策的特点是,一方面,偏向于明显的无节制的财政扩张;另一方面,央行通过购买债券来合作降低债务成本。 央行对财政部的这种从属关系有一个名字:“财政主导”。在二战后的几十年里,这是一个足够普遍的决策特征,但当上世纪70年代通货膨胀开始显现时,它逐渐失去了吸引力,这导致了一个“货币主导权”的时代,因为央行被赋予了越来越多的控制通货膨胀的权力。 现在我们回到了一个低通胀的世界,财政政策占据了上风,央行采取了宽松政策。这种安排在富裕国家似乎很有效,那里的投资者仍然乐于持有政府债券,尽管它们的数量如此之多,收益却在递减。 这些国家之所以能够逃脱惩罚,是因为它们拥有新兴经济体普遍缺乏的东西,即货币信誉。这对巴西和南非等国来说是痛苦的。 这两个国家的公共债务负担特别高。花旗银行估计,巴西的债务几乎占国内生产总值的95%,南非的债务占75%。如此巨大的债务负担尤其令人担忧,因为在这些国家中,每一个国家的长期通货膨胀调整后的利率都大大高于这些经济体在可预见的未来可能的增长速度。这种实际利率与实际增长率之间的差距,将在一段时间内造成问题。 那么,为什么巴西或南非不能实施模仿经济学,让他们的央行购买债券,把长期利率降到可以容忍的水平,然后继续支出呢? 原因是,由于这些国家缺乏增长潜力,抑制了他们的资金信誉,投资者希望对拥有巴西或南非债务的风险进行补偿。如果通过央行的干预将收益率压得太低,投资者就会开始觉得得不到回报,结果就是资本外流,货币无休止地贬值。最后,唯一的应对措施可能只能是通过实施资本管制来阻止资金出境。 没有简单的方法来解决这个问题:模仿经济学似乎已经找到了它的极限。也许我想的不对? 上个月,印度政府已经坐拥价值约90%的GDP的债务存量,宣布打算在数年内进行巨额预算赤字,而印度储备银行已经启动了债券购买活动,旨在将印度债券收益率的上限设定在6%的名义水平上。 到目前为止,市场的反应还算宽容。印度的货币信誉暂时完好无损,这主要得益于市场对印度未来能够快速增长的信心。 祝印度好运,如果巴西和南非跟进,也祝他们好运。对于关注新兴市场的投资者来说,找到模仿经济学仍在发挥作用的地方,可能会成为一项有价值的技能。
Cruise liners: fear and floating
Cruise ship owners owe a debt to makers of Covid-19 vaccines. Companies such as US-listed Royal Caribbean Group, which launched a $1.5bn equity offer on Monday, know all about having dues to pay. Cruise companies have sold more than $12bn in debt since the pandemic began, 39 per cent more than their issuance in the previous 10 years, according to Dealogic. Yet strong bookings should mean a decent reception for Royal Caribbean’s shares. Cruise lines claim bookings are up sharply this year. They need to be. Royal Caribbean has lost money in the past four quarters. Its net debt to estimated 2022 ebitda ratio is a scary 6 times, above Carnival Corporation’s near-5 times. But it is not alone in issuing healthy shipping forecasts. Saga, the UK travel group targeting older customers, already claims 70 per cent occupancy from June for its two cruise liners. Repeat customers, the key to about 80 per cent of the North American market, should fill vacant cabins. Still, full berths are only half the picture. Costs will be higher as a result of extra medical staff on board and limited port availability. Few places boast the UK’s high rate of vaccination, at about 30 per cent for at least one dose. Never mind the two jabs demanded of Saga passengers. Ship owners talk of “bubble ” excursions when visiting foreign shores. Note that Tui has continued to run its cruise trips in the Baltics and Canary Islands, though admittedly at half capacity.
Undeterred by the state of their balance sheet risks, some investors have marched up the gangplank. Share prices have jumped in the past six months, led by Norwegian Cruise Lines’ 80 per cent increase. But it remains almost half of its pre-pandemic level. Last spring, investors correctly priced cruise companies at half their book value. On average, shareholder equity per share subsequently halved. Heed the foghorn warnings. Ship values themselves look unlikely to climb much. Cruise ship supply, given the delivery schedule, should cap prices. Cruise liners offer a leveraged bet on travel recovery but it is better to stay on the dock and wave them off.
游轮船主们欠了Covid-19疫苗生产商一笔债。在美国上市的皇家加勒比集团(Royal Caribbean Group)周一发起了15亿美元的股票发行,这类公司是清楚欠债终要还的。Dealogic的数据显示,自疫情爆发以来,邮轮公司已发行逾120亿美元债券,比过去10年的发行总量高出39%。但强劲的预订量应该意味着皇家加勒比的股份会受到不错的欢迎。 邮轮公司声称今年的预订量大幅上升。上涨是必需要实现的。皇家加勒比在过去的四个季度里一直在亏损。其净债务与预计2022年息税折旧及摊销前利润之比高达6倍,比嘉年华公司(Carnival Corporation)的近5倍还要高。但它并不是唯一发布健康航运预测的公司。面向老客户的英国旅游集团Saga已经宣称,其两艘邮轮从6月开始的预定率已经达到70%。老客户们占据了北美市场约80%的份额,他们应该能填满空房。 不过,满铺只是全部图景的一部分。由于船上需要更多的医务人员、以及可选择的港口有限,运营的成本势必会更高。很少有地区拥有英国那么高的疫苗接种率:至少接种一剂疫苗的比率约为30%。Saga对乘客需要接种两针疫苗的要求,还是先别当回事了。船主们在访问外国海岸时还谈到了“旅行泡泡”方案。值得注意的是,旅行公司途易(Tui)已经继续运营在波罗的海和加那利群岛的邮轮旅行,尽管不可否认的是它的运力已经减半。
然而一些投资者并没有被资产负债表的风险所吓倒,并且已经走上跳板。过去6个月,挪威邮轮公司股价大幅上涨,涨幅达80%。但其股价仍然只是疫情前水平的近一半。去去年春天,投资者正确地将邮轮公司的定价定为其账面价值的一半。平均而言,每股股东收益也随后减半。 还是留意雾号的警告吧。船舶价值本身不太可能大幅攀升。根据交付的日程表来看,游轮的供应应该也会限价。邮轮公司的确为旅游业的复苏前景提供了一个押注的杠杆,但现在最好还是呆在码头上,挥手送他们离去。
Did US hiring accelerate in February?

Can the copper bull run continue?

If, as the commodity market adage goes, the cure for high prices is high prices, where does that leave copper? The world’s most important industrial metal, used in everything from electric vehicles to power cables, has risen more than 100 per cent from its pandemic lows in March last year. Last week it hit a 10-year high above $9,500 a tonne before falling back as speculators piled in and a Chinese brokerage amassed a $1bn long position on the Shanghai Futures Exchange.  A growing number of banks and brokers believe the bull run will continue and copper will go on to surpass its all-time high of $10,190 reached in February 2011.  Citi and Goldman Sachs are both predicting big supply deficits for 2021 that would further drain already-low stockpiles of the metal, citing strong demand from China but also the rest of the world as the economic strain from the coronavirus pandemic eases.  Unlike previous cycles, a dearth of “shovel-ready” copper projects means a flood of supply is not going to hit the market and send prices tumbling. If anything, even higher prices might be needed to spur production of low-grade ores in far-flung parts of the world where it is difficult to build a mine. “It takes 15 years from discovery to navigating approvals to ultimately getting a development up and running in our industry,” Anglo American chief executive Mark Cutifani said. “So you can’t just wiggle your nose. It does need high prices, but it also needs time.” Neil Hume

Did US hiring accelerate in February?

US hiring picked up markedly in February from the previous month, economists have forecast ahead of the monthly employment report that is due to be released on Friday. After the country lost 227,000 jobs in December, hiring rebounded in January — albeit with a modest gain of 49,000 jobs — as the rise in coronavirus infections abated and vaccinations accelerated. Economists polled by Bloomberg anticipate that the US will add 145,000 jobs in February, pushing the unemployment rate 1 percentage point to 5.3 per cent. If that forecast holds, it would mark the strongest pace of hiring since November. The prospect of a resurgence was bolstered by data released last Thursday showing that filings for first-time jobless benefits fell to a three-month low in the week ending February 20. The labour market stumbled in the final stretch of 2020 under the weight of the pandemic’s upswing in the autumn, which prompted tighter restrictions on businesses and social activity across the US. The leisure and hospitality sector alone shed 597,000 jobs in December and January, according to labour department figures, whereas the January payroll gains were concentrated in government employment and professional and business services. However, the outlook is brighter for the coming months, particularly with the expected passing of the Biden administration’s $1.9tn stimulus plan, which last week won the support of a large group of senior Wall Street executives, and further vaccination progress. “US households appeared quite febrile at the end of 2020 as the cocktail of a worsening health situation, weakening employment and expiring fiscal aid weighed on private sector confidence and restrained mobility,” analysts at Oxford Economics said. “Fortunately, we see hope on all three fronts.” Matthew Rocco

Will eurozone inflation continue to rise?

Eurozone inflation hit its highest level since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in January, after five months of falling prices. On Tuesday the bloc’s statistics body will publish a preliminary estimate of February’s level, which is expected to continue the upward trend. Many economists are predicting a steady rise over the spring on the back of higher energy costs, continuing supply chain disruptions that have raised costs for retailers and manufacturers, and the reversal of a VAT tax cut in Germany. “For eurozone inflation, the only way is up,” said Carsten Brzeski, economist at ING, who forecast that headline consumer price inflation in the bloc would reach 1.3 per cent in February, from an 11-month high of 0.9 per cent in January. Claus Vistesen, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said a further increase in the price of oil — international benchmark Brent crude is up more than 30 per cent this year — could be the biggest driver of inflation in coming months. A change in the inflation basket of goods and services is also at play. The 2021 basket reflects that people are consuming more food, where prices are rising, and less recreation activity, where prices are generally falling. The European Central Bank has forecast that price growth will rise to 1.5 per cent in the fourth quarter this year before dipping to 1.2 per cent a year later — still under its target of below but close to 2 per cent. “The ECB will not contemplate raising its policy rates until eurozone inflation expectations and wage inflation have increased substantially and persistently,” said Andrew Kenningham, economist at Capital Economics. “That is probably several years away.” Valentina Romei


如果像大宗商品市场的格言所说的那样,解决高价格问题的良方就是高价格,那么铜的处境将如何呢? 铜是全球最重要的工业金属,用于从电动汽车到电缆的各种产品。目前,铜的价格已较去年3月流行时的低点上涨逾100%。 上周,它曾触及每吨9,500美元以上的10年高位,随后回落,因为投机者扎堆入场,一家中国券商在上海期货交易所积累了10亿美元的多头头寸。 越来越多的银行和经纪商认为,铜价的牛市将持续下去,突破2011年2月创下的10,190美元的历史高点。 花旗(Citi)和高盛(Goldman Sachs)都预测2021年将出现巨大的供应赤字,这将进一步消耗已经很低的铜库存,理由是随着冠状病毒大流行带来的经济压力缓解,来自中国和世界其他地区的需求强劲。 与以往周期不同的是,缺乏“准备就绪”的铜项目意味着,不会有大量供应冲击市场,并导致价格暴跌。如果有什么不同的话,那就是可能需要更高的价格,来刺激世界上那些难以建矿的偏远地区的低品位矿石的生产。 英美资源集团首席执行官Mark Cutifani表示:“在我们的行业中,从发现到获得批准,最终启动并运行一个项目需要15年时间。所以你不能只是动动鼻子。它确实需要高价格,但也需要时间。”尼尔·休姆


在周五公布月度就业报告前,经济学家预测,美国2月的招聘人数较上月明显回升。 在12月该国损失了22.7万个工作岗位后,随着冠状病毒感染率的上升减弱和疫苗接种的加速,1月的招聘人数出现反弹--尽管增幅不大,但也增加了4.9万个工作岗位。 接受彭博社调查的经济学家预计,美国2月将增加14.5万个就业岗位,将失业率压低1个百分点至5.3%。如果这一预测成立,将创下11月以来最强劲的招聘速度。 上周四公布的数据显示,截至2月20日当周首次申请失业金人数降至三个月低点,支撑了经济复苏的前景。 在今年秋季疫情抬头的重压下,2020年的最后一段时间,劳动力市场出现了下滑,这促使美国各地收紧了对企业和社会活动的限制。 根据劳工部的数据,仅休闲和酒店行业在12月和1月就减少了59.7万个工作岗位,而1月就业岗位的增长集中在政府就业、专业和商业服务领域。 不过,未来几个月的前景会比较光明,尤其是拜登(Biden)政府1.9万亿美元的刺激计划有望获得通过,而且疫苗接种工作也取得了进一步进展。上周,该计划赢得了一大批华尔街高管的支持。 牛津经济研究院(Oxford Economics)的分析师表示:“2020年底,美国家庭似乎相当狂热,健康状况恶化、就业减弱和财政援助到期的混合因素,拖累了私人部门信心和流动性受限。幸运的是,我们在这三个方面都看到了希望。”Matthew Rocco


在物价连续5个月下跌之后,欧元区通胀率达到了今年1月冠状病毒大流行爆发以来的最高水平。周二,欧盟统计机构将公布2月份数据的初步估计,预计该数据将延续这一上升趋势。 许多经济学家预计,由于能源成本上涨、供应链持续中断导致零售商和制造商成本上升,以及德国撤销增值税减税政策,今年春季物价将稳步上涨。 荷兰国际集团(ING)经济学家卡斯滕•布尔泽斯基(Carsten Brzeski)表示:“就欧元区通胀而言,唯一的方向是上涨。”他预计,2月份欧元区的总体消费价格通胀率将从1月份的11个月高点0.9%达到1.3%。 Pantheon Macroeconomics首席经济学家Claus Vistesen表示,油价进一步上涨--国际基准布伦特原油今年涨幅超过30%--可能是未来几个月通胀的最大驱动力。 商品和服务的通胀组合的变化也在发挥作用。2021年的通胀组合反映出人们消费了更多的食品,食品价格上涨,而娱乐活动减少,价格普遍下降。 欧洲央行的通胀目标是低于但尽量接近2%。该行预测,今年第四季度物价增速将升至1.5%,一年后将降至1.2%,仍低于此目标。 “欧洲央行不会考虑提高政策利率,直到欧元区通胀预期和工资通胀率大幅持续上升,”Capital Economics的经济学家Andrew Kenningham表示。“这可能还需要几年时间。”Valentina Romei
After the pandemic: Sunak signals the UK’s return to fiscal conservatism
Rishi Sunak’s Budget on March 3 will be drenched in red ink. The UK chancellor has already spent about £280bn on helping the economy through the Covid-19 pandemic and the bill will keep rising next week; Britain is not scheduled to fully reopen until June 21. Sunak — like finance ministers around the world — is throwing money at fighting coronavirus, scrapping fiscal rules and seizing at the lifeline of historically low interest rates. Like Janet Yellen, US Treasury secretary, Boris Johnson’s government is “acting big” in the crisis. But in an era when economic orthodoxy has been put on hold — governments from the left and right alike are spending on a massive level to avert catastrophe — Sunak will use his Budget to signal that the borrowing binge cannot last forever. Fiscal discipline is about to become, yet again, a defining battle in British politics. While economists around the world argue that with historically low interest rates borrowing is not a big concern and vast stimulus packages are the order of the day, Sunak is expected to signal future tax rises — notably a rise in corporation tax — to show that he is serious about closing Britain’s structural deficit. The policy is controversial with many Conservative MPs, who think businesses have suffered enough. “No tax rises,” said John Redwood, a former Thatcherite cabinet minister. “You can only have a chance of fiscal discipline if you rebuild the economy first.” Johnson is instinctively nervous of tax rises and tensions with his chancellor could lie ahead. But those close to the Budget process say Sunak could signal an increase in corporation tax from 19p to a rate in the mid-20s over the parliament — still one of the lowest headline rates of any major economy — with warnings of more tough choices to come.
As virus cases decline, UK chancellor Rishi Sunak says the government ‘should look to return the public finances to a more sustainable footing’
In anticipation of possible trouble, Mark Spencer, government chief whip, has warned Tory MPs that if they vote against any of Sunak’s Budget measures it will be treated as a vote of no confidence in the government: a serious disciplinary offence. Meanwhile, the chancellor has been preparing the ground for a two-pronged strategy, combining high spending now with a plan to stabilise debt in the medium term. According to one Tory MP briefed by Sunak ahead of the Budget who declined to be named, the chancellor says: “The one common theme that has seen us win four elections in a row is fiscal credibility. If we lose that, people won’t believe us on other things.” One ally of Sunak says: “Rishi believes there’s not much point to the Conservative party if we don’t want to put the public finances back on a sound footing.”

Why Sunak wants to do it

Sunak’s Budget will therefore be a mixture of huge extra spending in the short term — policies like the furlough job support scheme will be extended into the summer — coupled with a clear warning that a reckoning lies ahead, when the long-term damage to the public finances caused by Covid-19 will have to be repaired. At the age of just 40, and a little over a year into his job at the Treasury, Sunak is confident that he is making the right call, economically and politically. One business leader with close Treasury connections says: “At a time when everyone else in the world is saying ‘how big is your stimulus?’ he is striking a different note. I think it’s personal — it’s who he is.” Sunak’s allies say he is not relaxed about the prospect of interest rates staying close to zero. While he is willing to borrow cheaply over the long term to cover Britain’s Covid debts — Tory MPs call them “war bonds” — Sunak wants to bring borrowing under control once the crisis has passed. The Treasury fears that “scarring” caused by the pandemic could leave the economy permanently smaller and create a £40bn hole in the public finances, exacerbating a debt servicing problem if rates start to rise.
From left: The CBI’s Carolyn Fairbairn, the FSB’s Mike Cherry, Sunak and the TUC’s Frances O’Grady. The chancellor says protecting jobs was the ‘fiscally responsible’ thing to do during the pandemic
“I want to make sure that one day, when the next shock comes along, we can respond comprehensively and generously again,” he said this month. “That will require sustainable public finances in the future and I’ll always be open and honest with people about exactly what that means.” Sunak also believes this is the right time politically to start talking about fiscal discipline, even if tax rises may not start to bite until later in a parliament which could run until 2024 — hopefully once the pandemic is firmly in the rear-view mirror. “Our polling shows clearly that people accept that there is a bill to be paid for all of this spending,” says one Conservative strategist. Sunak wants the Tories to fight the next election on a platform of fiscal credibility — putting Labour on the other side of the dividing line. “We have to start now,” said one colleague of the chancellor. “We can’t start talking about it in three years’ time.”

The economics

Sunak has long insisted that his coronavirus spending spree, protecting jobs and livelihoods during the pandemic, was the “fiscally responsible” thing to do, but as virus cases decline, “we should look to return the public finances to a more sustainable footing”.
But with borrowing likely to be about £350bn in 2020-21 and Covid-19 support measures likely to extend into the next financial year, the chances are slim of sticking to the government’s manifesto target of only borrowing to invest in three years’ time, which would imply bringing the overall deficit down below £60bn a year.  In the unlikely event he chose to stick to the timetable outlined in the manifesto, Sunak would be sailing against a strong tide of international opinion, which says that countries should seek to recover fully from the pandemic before addressing their public finances.
Construction sites in the City of London. Sunak’s strategy is to offer high levels of spending, including infrastructure investment, with a pledge to keep a tight grip on day-to-day expenses
The IMF, World Bank and OECD have all forcefully altered their recommendations for countries, such as the UK, which have few immediate constraints from financial markets in borrowing, arguing that borrowing is not a huge concern when interest rates are at historically low levels. In its first assessment of the $1.9tn American stimulus plan, worth 9 per cent of gross domestic product, the IMF concluded that it would raise the performance of the US economy without generating inflationary pressures. Predicting that President Joe Biden’s stimulus would raise inflation only to 2.25 per cent in 2022, Gita Gopinath, the IMF chief economist, said this was “nothing to be concerned about”. The sanguine stance taken by international bodies that have traditionally been fiscal hawks stemmed, Gopinath said, from globalisation, automation and the credibility central banks have built up in inflation control.  Sunak shares the view that the recovery must be entrenched before tax rises kick in — one minister says “there’s a difference between when you signal things and when you do things” — but the chancellor knows that the latest economic fashions do not protect him from government departments always wanting to spend more and longer-term fiscal concerns. Torsten Bell, director of the Resolution Foundation and a former Treasury official, says he might be “unfashionable” in understanding the chancellor’s concerns, especially when there will be difficulties reining in health budgets after the pandemic.  The most likely fiscal target will not be a near-term ambition for the deficit, but one that seeks to stabilise debt in the medium term. But even that will involve tough decisions soon unless it is far into the future, Bell says. 
UK prime minister Boris Johnson visits the Conway Heathrow asphalt and recycling plant in London. Johnson is instinctively nervous of tax rises and tensions with Sunak could lie ahead

Problems ahead

Talking tough on tackling the deficit is one thing: Sunak’s problem could be getting tough measures past Tory MPs and his neighbour in Downing Street, Johnson. “It’s pretty clear that Rishi Sunak’s instincts are those of a fiscal conservative and he wants to take action sooner rather than later,” says David Gauke, former Treasury minister. “You also have a prime minister who’s very reluctant to take any difficult decisions before he really has to. That makes it more challenging.” Johnson has ruled out a return to the public spending austerity programme of David Cameron’s governments from 2010-16 and he has also tied Sunak’s hands when it comes to putting up taxes. “Boris is certainly sceptical on fiscal discipline,” says one Treasury official. Although both sides insist chancellor and prime minister are working together well on the Budget for now, tensions will rise ahead of a second autumn Budget when the tough decisions start to be taken. Johnson’s penchant for grand projects is well known; his plan for a bridge or tunnel between Scotland and Northern Ireland is viewed in the Treasury as a monumental white elephant. He has also told Sunak he must honour the Tory manifesto commitment not to raise rates of income tax, value added tax or national insurance — the three biggest revenue-raisers for the exchequer. So far Johnson has sanctioned “difficult choices” by Sunak that — in reality — have been relatively straightforward to deliver, including last November’s £4bn cut to Britain’s overseas aid budget and pay freeze for some public sector workers. A rise in corporation tax is unpopular with Tory MPs but would still leave Britain competitive internationally. The next round of possible options to deliver Sunak’s fiscal discipline could be much harder for the prime minister to swallow. Freezing income tax allowances — drawing more people into higher tax bands — will concern key Tory voters, as would any rise in fuel duty. Reforms to capital gains tax, property taxes or pensions tax relief would hit traditional Tory voters hard, particularly those in the wealthy south. One veteran of the Treasury during the post-financial crash austerity era claims Sunak and Johnson will ultimately duck those tough choices: “Sunak will continue to imply that fiscal tightening is around the corner but it will always be pain deferred. Generally, when governments give up on fiscal rectitude, it’s a market crisis that makes them see the error of their ways.” But Sunak, who represents a northern constituency, insists he can put together a strategy which will help the Conservatives to hold on to the working class former Labour voters who switched to the Tories in large numbers at the 2019 election. It is the battle that could determine the outcome of the next election.
Keir Starmer, Labour party leader, and Anneliese Dodds, shadow chancellor of the exchequer, visit small businesses in Stevenage. Starmer knows he has to re-establish the party’s credibility after Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership

Scrambled politics

Sunak tells Conservative MPs that his party cannot win a straight race with Labour on who can spend the most money — and that is a view shared by many Tories representing northern seats. Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham since 2019, says his dream election message would be: “Economic credibility, promises delivered, more to come in the future.” Holden says the government must show that its investments in schools, hospitals, police and infrastructure are being delivered and that they can be maintained because the public finances are under control. “Labour didn’t lose the last election because people didn’t like their spending plans,” he says. “They didn’t trust them to deliver them.” Sunak’s strategy is to try to outflank Labour leader Keir Starmer on both sides: offering high levels of spending, including infrastructure investment funded by long-term borrowing, with a pledge to keep a tight grip on day-to-day spending. Tax rises, if Tory MPs allow them, would largely hit better off voters or businesses.
Starmer is trying to work out how to respond in a transformed political environment, where he could face a party of the right at the next election preaching fiscal discipline having just run up a £350bn deficit after a huge state intervention against coronavirus. The opposition Labour leader acknowledged the fight ahead in his first big economy speech last week. “I know the value of people’s hard-earned money — I take that incredibly seriously,” he said. “To invest wisely and not to spend money we can’t afford — those are my guiding principles.” That speech built on the recent annual Mais lecture by Anneliese Dodds, shadow chancellor, which used the word “responsible” 23 times as she pledged a “responsible economic, fiscal and monetary policy.” Starmer knows he has to establish that credibility — badly tarnished during the leadership of the leftwing Jeremy Corbyn — before he can get a hearing for the kind of spending programmes he has in mind, such as improved housing, social care and action to tackle climate change. Starmer has sought to make the case that governments should be judged on how they spend money — a jibe at Johnson’s wasteful spending during the Covid crisis on items such as protective equipment and a test and trace system — rather than how much they spend. Leftwing Labour MPs would prefer Starmer just promised to outspend the Tories. Stewart Wood, once an adviser to former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown, predicts a battle for control of the political narrative in the coming months.
Liverpool at the start of the third lockdown. UK public spending is expected to rise next week as the government aims to continue supporting the economy through the pandemic
Lord Wood says that 10 years ago the former Tory leadership under Cameron and George Osborne ruthlessly engineered a narrative that the economic crash was the result of Labour’s overspending. “I suspect that is what Keir’s team want to do, they want to say that of course Boris isn’t responsible for the deaths per se but that years of austerity left the health service in a position where it couldn’t cope with the Covid catastrophe,” he says. Starmer’s problem is that by the time of a general election in 2024, Cameron and Osborne may feel like ancient history. Johnson, with his enthusiasm for extravagant projects, does not seem like a politician itching to return to austerity, or the “A-word” as he puts it. At next week’s Budget, Sunak will set the parameters for the next general election, suggesting that voters, particularly in northern marginal seats, can vote for Labour-style spending with Tory-style fiscal discipline. It is a strategy heavy with political risk — neither Conservative MPs nor Johnson are likely to be comfortable with the some of the tax rises Sunak has in mind — but gradually the contours of post-pandemic British politics are becoming clearer.
瑞希-苏纳克(Rishi Sunak)3月3日的预算案将会被红墨水浸透。这位英国财政大臣已经花费了大约2800亿英镑来帮助本国经济熬过Covid-19疫情,下周的账单开支还会继续加码。而英国的经济生活要等到6月21日才会完全重新开放。 和世界各地的财长们一样,苏纳克正在为抗击新冠病毒大把投钱,废除财政规则,紧抓处于历史低位的利率生命线。与美国财长珍妮特•耶伦(Janet Yellen)的行动类似,鲍里斯•约翰逊(Boris Johnson)政府也在危机中采取了“大手笔动作”。 然而,在这个经济正统观念被搁置一旁的时代,当左翼和右翼政府都在大举支出以求破财避灾的时刻,苏纳克将利用他的预算方案来表明,举债热潮不会永远持续下去。财政纪律将再次成为英国政治的决定性战役。 虽然世界各地的经济学家们都认为,在利率处于历史低位的情况下,借贷问题并不足以为虑,庞大的经济刺激计划才是当务之急。苏纳克却预计会发出未来加税的信号(尤其是提高公司税),苏纳克希望以此显示他对消除英国结构性赤字的态度是认真的。 这项政策引起了许多保守党议员的争议,他们认为企业已经不堪重负。“不增税,”前撒切尔内阁大臣约翰·雷德伍德(John Redwood)说。“只有先重建经济,才能有可能谈财政纪律。” 英国首相约翰逊本能地对增税感到紧张,他与财政大臣之间的紧张关系可能近在眼前。但知情人士表示,Sunak可能暗示,议会将把公司税从19便士上调30%左右,这仍是所有主要经济体中最低的整体税率水平。苏纳克预计还会警告,会有更多更艰难的选择等在前面。
由于预计到可能出现的麻烦,党鞭马克-斯宾塞(Mark Spencer)警告保守党议员,如果他们对苏纳克的任何一项预算措施投反对票,将被视为对政府投不信任票:属于严重违纪。 与此同时,这位财政大臣一直在为双管齐下的战略做准备,将目前的高支出与稳定中期债务的计划相结合。 一位不愿透露姓名的保守党议员在预算案发布前听取了苏纳克的简报。他表示:“见证我们连续四次赢得大选的一个共同主题是财政信誉,如果我们输掉这一点,人们就不会再相信我们了。苏纳克的一位盟友表示:“里希认为,如果我们不想让公共财政重新建立在坚实的基础上,保守党就没有多少意义。”


由此,苏纳克的财政预算案将在短期内投入巨额额外开支,例如休假工作支持计划( furlough job support scheme)这样的政策将延续到夏季。但与此同时也会明确预警,Covid-19疫情对公共财政造成的长期损伤必须在未来得到修复。 年仅40岁,在财政部的工作也才一年有余,但苏纳克坚信,无论从经济上还是政治上看,他都做出了正确的决定。一位与财政部关系密切的商界领袖说:"当世界上其他人都在谈'你的刺激措施有多大’的时候,他却发出了不同的声音。我认为这是他的个人风格--他就是这样的人。" 盟友们称,苏纳克对利率维持在接近于零的前景并不感到轻松。尽管Sunak愿意以较低的成本长期借款,以偿还英国的Covid债务(保守党议员称之为“战争债券”),但他希望一旦危机过去,借贷将得到控制。英国财政部担心,疫情造成的“创伤”可能导致英国经济永久性萎缩,并在公共财政中造成400亿英镑的缺口,如果利率开始上升,将加剧偿债问题。
"我希望确保在某一天,当下一波冲击来临时,我们能够再次做出全面而慷慨地应对,"他本月说。"这需要未来有可持续的公共财政,我将始终对人们开诚布公地说明这究竟意味着什么。" 苏纳克还认为,从政治层面上讲,现在是开始讨论财政纪律的正确时机,即使增税举措不会立即生效,而议会讨论可能会持续到2024年,希望届时疫情会完全结束。 "我们的民意调查清楚地表明,为所有这些财政支出买单人们是接受的,"一位保守党策略师说。苏纳克希望保守党在下一次选举中以财政信誉为平台进行斗争,将工党置于分界线的另一边。"我们必须从现在开始,"财政部长的一位同事说。"我们不能在三年后才开始讨论这个问题。"


但由于2020-21年度的借贷规模有可能达到约3500亿英镑,而针对Covid-19疫情的扶持措施可能会延续到下一个财政年度,坚持政府所宣称的只在三年内借贷投资的目标,可能性微乎其微。因为那意味着要把每年的总体赤字降到600亿英镑以下。 万一他选择坚持宣言中列出的时间表,苏纳克将与国际舆论的强势潮流背道而驰,国际舆论称,各国应在解决各自公共财政问题之前,寻求从疫情中完全恢复。
国际货币基金组织(IMF)、世界银行(World Bank)和经合组织(OECD)都加力改变了对英国等国的建议,认为在利率处于历史低位时,借贷并不是一个大问题。这些国家在借贷方面几乎没有受到金融市场的直接制约。 在对美国1.9万亿美元刺激计划(相当于国内生产总值的9%)的首次评估中,IMF得出的结论是,该计划将提高美国经济的表现,而不会产生通胀压力。IMF首席经济学家吉塔•戈皮纳斯(Gita Gopinath)预测,美国总统乔•拜登(Joe Biden)的刺激计划只会在2022年将通胀率提高到2.25%,他表示,这“没什么可担心的”。 戈皮纳特表示,传统上一直是财政鹰派的国际机构采取的乐观立场源于全球化、自动化和各国央行在通胀控制方面建立的信誉。 苏纳克同意这样的观点,即必须在加税启动之前巩固经济复苏,一位部长说:"发出信号和采取行动是有区别的",但英国财相知道,时下流行的经济主张,并无法保证他能对那些总想支出更多的政府部门置身事外,也无法不再为长期财政问题而操心。 决议基金会(Resolution Foundation)主任、前财政部官员托尔斯滕•贝尔(Torsten Bell)表示,在理解财政大臣的担忧方面,他可能“不受欢迎”,尤其是在疫情之后难以控制医疗预算的情况下。 最有可能的财政目标不在于短期赤字,而是寻求稳定中期债务。但即使是这样,也将很快涉及到艰难的抉择,除非将其置于遥远的未来,贝尔说。
英国首相鲍里斯-约翰逊(Boris Johnson)在伦敦参观康威希思罗沥青和回收工厂。约翰逊本能地对加税感到紧张,与苏纳克的紧张关系可能近在眼前。


在解决赤字问题上发表强硬言论是一回事:苏纳克的问题在于,要推动保守党议员和他在唐宁街的邻居,约翰逊通过强硬措施。英国前财长戴维•高克(David Gauke)表示:“很明显,里希•苏纳克的直觉属于财政保守主义者,他希望尽早采取行动,而不是推迟。”他说:“我们的首相又总是在不得不做出艰难决定之前犹豫不决。这让苏纳克面临更多挑战。” 约翰逊排除了戴维•卡梅伦(David Cameron)政府在2010-16年恢复公共支出紧缩计划的可能性,他还在增税问题上束缚了苏纳克的手脚。一位财政部官员表示:“鲍里斯当然对财政纪律持怀疑态度。”尽管双方都坚称财相和首相目前在预算问题上合作得很好,但在第二个秋季预算出台之前,紧张局势将加剧,届时将开始做出艰难的决定。 约翰逊对宏大项目的偏爱是众所周知的;他计划在苏格兰和北爱尔兰之间建一座桥或隧道,在财政部看来,这是一个巨大的累赘。他还告诉苏纳克,必须遵守保守党在竞选宣言中做出的承诺,不提高所得税、增值税或国民保险的税率——这是财政部最重要的三个财政收入来源。 迄今为止,约翰逊批准了苏纳克的“艰难抉择”——实际上,这些抉择是相对容易实现的,包括去年11月削减40亿英镑的海外援助预算,以及冻结部分公共部门员工的工资。提高公司税并不受保守党议员的欢迎,但仍将使英国在国际上具有竞争力。 下一波兑现苏纳克的财政纪律的方案可能会更难以让首相接受。冻结所得税免税额--将更多的人拉入高税率区间,如同上调燃油税所产生的影响那样,这将引起保守党关键选民的关注。资本利得税、房产税或养老金税收减免的改革将重创保守党传统选民,尤其是南方富裕地区的选民。 一位在金融危机后的紧缩时期曾在财政部任职的资深人士声称,苏纳克和约翰逊最终将回避这些艰难的选择:“苏纳克将继续暗示财政紧缩即将到来,但痛苦总是会被推迟。一般来说,当政府放弃财政整顿时,只有市场危机才会让他们认识到自己的错误。” 但是代表北方选区的苏纳克坚称,他可以制定一项策略,帮助保守党留住那些在2019年选举中大量投奔而来的前工党的工人阶级选民。这是一场可能决定下次选举结果的战斗。
工党领袖基尔•斯塔默(Keir Starmer)和财政影子大臣安内利塞•多兹(annelese Dodds)访问了斯蒂夫尼奇的小企业。斯达默知道,在杰里米·科尔宾(Jeremy Corbyn)领导工党之后,他必须重新树立该党的信誉


苏纳克对保守党议员说,在谁能花最多的钱的问题上,他的政党不可能直接赢得与工党的竞争,这也是许多代表北方席位的保守党议员所认同的观点。自2019年以来一直担任西北达勒姆议员的理查德•霍尔登(Richard Holden)表示,他梦寐以求的竞选信息将是:“经济可信度、兑现的承诺,更多可期的未来。” 霍尔登说,政府必须表明在学校、医院、警察和基础设施方面的投资正在落实,而且因为公共财政在控制之下,这些投资可以维持下去。他说:“工党在上次选举中失利,并不是因为人们不喜欢他们的支出计划,而是不相信他们能够兑现。” 苏纳克的策略是试图在两方面都击败工党领袖基尔•斯塔默(Keir Starmer):提供高水平的支出,包括由长期借款提供资金的基础设施投资,同时承诺严格控制日常支出。如果保守党议员允许增税,将在很大程度上对选民或企业产生更好的影响。
斯塔默正试图找出如何在变化的政治环境中有所回应,他可能会在下次选举中面对一个宣扬财政纪律的右翼政党,在国家对冠状病毒进行大规模干预后,该党刚刚积累了3500亿英镑的赤字。 作为反对党的工党领袖上周在他的首次经济演讲中承认了未来的挑战。“我知道人们辛苦挣来的钱的价值,我非常重视这一点,”他说。“明智地投资,不花我们负担不起的钱,这是我的指导原则。” 这篇演讲以影子财相安内利塞•多德(Anneliese Dodds)最近在Mais的年度演讲为基础,多德在承诺 "负责任的经济、财政和货币政策 "时,23次使用了 "负责任 "一词。" 斯塔默知道他必须建立这种信誉,在左翼的杰里米-科尔宾(Jeremy Corbyn)领导期间,这种信誉已经严重受损。重建信誉将助力他为心目中的支出计划赢得听证会,比如改善住房、社会关怀和应对气候变化等行动。 斯塔默试图提出这样的观点:应该根据政府如何花钱来评判政府,而不是他们花了多少钱,这是对约翰逊政府在Covid危机期间在防护设备和测试和跟踪系统等项目上的铺张浪费做出的嘲讽。左翼工党议员更希望斯达默尔能承诺支出超过保守党。 曾担任英国前工党首相戈登•布朗(Gordon Brown)顾问的斯图尔特•伍德(Stewart Wood)预计,未来几个月将出现一场争夺政治叙事控制权的较量。
伍德勋爵(Lord Wood)说,10年前,在卡梅伦和乔治·奥斯本领导下的前保守党领导人粗暴地策划了一种叙事,认为经济崩溃是工党过度支出的结果。 "我怀疑这就是基尔的团队想要做的事情,他们想说,当然鲍里斯对死亡本身并不负责,但多年的紧缩政策使医疗服务处于无法应对疫情灾难的境地,"他说。 斯塔默的问题是,到2024年大选的时候,卡梅伦和奥斯本可能会成为古老的历史。约翰逊对奢侈项目的热情,似乎并不像一个渴望回归紧缩政策的政治家。 在下周的预算案上,苏纳克将为下一次大选设定参数,这暗示届时选民尤其是北部边缘席位的选民,可以投票支持工党式的支出政策,或支持保守党主张的财政纪律。 这是一个政治风险很重的策略,无论是保守党议员还是约翰逊,都不可能对苏纳克心目中的一些增税措施感到满意,但疫情之后的英国政治轮廓,将逐渐变得清晰。
Credit markets/inflation: reality resumes
A crashing economy is bad news for creditors. But one running too hot may not be great news either. Despite a deep recession in 2020, monetary and fiscal stimulus proved the perfect antidote for most lenders, bondholders and debt issuers. Falling yields and spreads meant fixed income securities soared. No surprise that companies issued trillions in bonds and loans across credit ratings.  But fixed income instruments by definition do not cope well with the threat of inflation. Ten-year US Treasuries now yield 1.4 per cent. Low historically, though still up from 0.9 per cent in just two months. The year-to-date return on the Bloomberg Barclays US bond index is already minus 0.72 per cent after surging 7.5 per cent last year. More interesting is the knock-on effect upon equity valuations. A healthier US economy should enhance corporate profits. But higher interest rates also threaten the value of future, uncertain profits. In the past five days, the tech-heavy Nasdaq index has fallen more than 2 per cent as peak valuations are re-evaluated. Wall Street, presciently, took full advantage of easy conditions until the end. In January $52bn of junk bonds was issued in the US, the third-highest monthly volume ever recorded. Average junk bond yields had cratered to about 4 per cent with even highly indebted issuers such as cruise operator, Carnival, able to tap the markets at coupons below 6 per cent. Most ominously, perhaps, leveraged loan issuance used to pay for dividends to private equity partners had swollen to $7bn through early February, according to S&P LCD, the second-highest total recorded since 2010.   The full consequences of quickly rising rates are tricky to predict given years of low borrowing costs. Absolute rates will remain low by historical measures but, as the taper tantrum of 2013 showed, capital markets can overreact to sudden shifts in borrowing costs. Wall Street should recognise the bigger picture. An easing pandemic, after a long hibernation, should lead to some rapid economic growth initially. That is no bad thing. Our popular newsletter for premium subscribers Best of Lex is published twice-weekly. Please sign up here
经济崩溃对债权人来说是个坏消息。但是,经济过热可能也不是什么好消息。尽管在2020年出现了严重衰退,但事实证明,货币和财政刺激对大多数贷款人、债券持有者和债券发行者来说是完美的解药。收益率和息差的下降意味着固定收益证券的飙升。各大公司发行了数万亿的债券和贷款,跨越各个信用等级,这并不奇怪。 但从概念上看,固定收益工具并未很好地应对通胀威胁。十年期美国国债现在的收益率为1.4%。在历史上处于低位,不过仍高于短短两个月内的0.9%。彭博巴克莱美债指数(Bloomberg Barclays US bond index)在去年暴涨7.5%之后,年初至今的回报率已经是负0.72%。 更有趣的是对股权估值的连锁反应。更健康的美国经济理应提高企业利润。但更高的利率也会威胁到未来不确定的利润价值。过去5个交易日,随着对峰值估值的重新评估,以科技股为主的纳斯达克指数(Nasdaq index)下跌逾2%。 华尔街很有先见之明,最终充分利用了宽松的环境。今年1月,美国发行了520亿美元的垃圾债券,为有史以来的第三高月度发行量。垃圾债券的平均收益率跌至4%左右,即便是像邮轮运营商嘉年华(Carnival)这样负债累累的发行者,也能以低于6%的利率发行垃圾债券。 或许最糟糕的是,根据标普LCD的数据,截至2月初,用于支付私人股本合作伙伴股息的杠杆贷款发行量已膨胀至70亿美元,为2010年以来第二高。 鉴于多年的低借贷成本,快速加息的全部后果难以预测。以历史标准衡量,绝对利率仍将保持在低位,但正如2013年的“缩减恐慌”(taper tantrum)所显示的那样,资本市场可能会对借贷成本的突然变化反应过度。华尔街应该认识到更大的图景。在一段漫长的冬眠之后,疫情的缓和理应在初期带来快速的经济增长。这不是什么坏事。
Lex Midweek Letter: an injection of confidence
Dear readers, In 2020, the fun-loving cavalier turned into a Christmas-cancelling puritan. But this year UK prime minister Boris Johnson looks set to relax again, presiding over ever-loosening restrictions. On Monday he promised a “one-way road to freedom” as he unveiled a strategy for return to normality by June 21 — midsummer’s day. That’s too slow for some. One MP described the announcement as a “hammer blow”. Some overstretched pubs are still fearful they will have to call time for good. But the timetable is in line with Lex’s prediction back in December. A note titled “Midsummer Gladness” argued that would be the point when vaccination would allow a return to semi-normality. The news certainly provided a boost for the travel sector. Thomas Cook, the online travel company, reported a 60 per cent leap in traffic on its website following the prime minister’s announcement. Europe’s largest tour operator Tui reported a 500 per cent week-on-week rise in bookings for holidays in Greece, Spain and Turkey from July onwards.  Britain was on the cusp of becoming the first country in the world to safely resume international travel and trade at scale, said Heathrow’s chief executive John Holland-Kaye on Wednesday. Understandably he sounds hopeful. The airport, taken private by a consortium led by Ferrovial in a highly leveraged takeover in 2006, made a £2bn loss last year, pushing net debt up almost 6 per cent to £13.1bn. Though it has enough liquidity to last until 2023, it needs passenger numbers to bounce back. Last year, they fell to levels not seen since the 1970s. Anglo-Spanish airline group IAG is similarly in dire need of a recovery in air traffic. Its British Airways subsidiary on Monday announced the deferral of £450m of pension contributions. With its fleet largely grounded, it needs to conserve all the cash it can. But travel to countries that have not got Covid-19 under control will be constrained. Rating agency Moody’s expressed caution, saying the timeline for easing lockdown restrictions could still be derailed by concerns over new Covid-19 variants. Trade body Iata this month warned that travel demand might recover only 13 per cent compared with last year’s very low level. If that happened, airlines would go on burning cash throughout the year.  On a more general point, there is agreement though. There is plenty of pent-up demand. Household bank deposits were up 10 per cent at the end of December compared with a year earlier. This is not evenly spread. More people report that their savings have fallen than risen. Richer households tend not to spend their wealth. Even so, the huge build-up of cash savings — the most liquid subset of household wealth — means the hospitality sector stands to benefit. Many economists expect a Roaring Twenties-style splurge. 
Underpinning the optimism is more evidence of vaccine success. New data from Scotland this week showed a very substantial fall in hospital admissions after the rollout of vaccines. The results in older age groups were “very encouraging”. That is significant because several countries including Germany have so far opted only to use the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for younger age groups.  The benefits of vaccination are also not evenly spread. It particularly helps face-to-face services worst hit by Covid-19 social-distancing requirements. Vaccination will make less difference to trade-dependent sectors grappling with the complexities of Brexit, the other big drag on the UK’s economic performance. Here, too, a positive story can be told. After four years when many global investors shied away from UK equities exposure, the recent trade deal, however limited, provides some reassurance. Funds are now flowing into domestic stocks. They are seen as relatively cheap and beneficiaries of a tilt towards value stocks. Sterling has rallied sharply this year. Having the fastest vaccine rollout of any large country has given the UK an unusual first-mover advantage, analysts say. Should that continue, expect a degree of exuberance to return. Enjoy the rest of the week, Vanessa Houlder Lex writer
亲爱的读者, 2020年,那个爱玩的骑兵变成了一个取消圣诞节的清教徒。但今年,英国首相鲍里斯•约翰逊(Boris Johnson)似乎又要松弛起来,在他的主持下,疫情封锁的限制不断放松。周一,他承诺了一条“通往自由的单行道”,并公布了在6月21日仲夏之前恢复正常生活的战略。 这对有些人来说这个时间表仍太过漫长了。一位英国国会议员将这一声明形容为“沉重一击”。一些不堪重负的酒吧仍然担心他们将不得不永远停止营业。但时间表和Lex专栏去年12月的预测一致。一份题为“仲夏之喜”的报告指出,接种疫苗将是恢复半正常生活的关键。 解封计划的消息无疑提振了旅游业。在线旅游公司托马斯•库克(Thomas Cook)报告称,在英国首相的声明发布后,其网站的流量猛增了60%。欧洲最大的旅游运营商途美(Tui)报告,从7月份开始,前往希腊、西班牙和土耳其度假的预订量同比增长500%。 希思罗机场首席执行官约翰·霍兰-凯伊(John Holland-Kaye)周三表示,英国即将成为世界上第一个安全恢复大规模国际旅行和贸易的国家。可以理解,他的话里充满希望。2006年,由费罗维尔公司(Ferrovial)牵头的财团通过一项高杠杆收购将该机场私有化。去年,机场亏损20亿英镑,净债务上升近6%至131亿英镑。尽管仍然有足够的流动性维持到2023年,但它需要乘客数量反弹。去年,乘客数量已经跌至上世纪70年代以来的最高水平。 英国-西班牙航空集团IAG同样急需航空运输量的复苏。其子公司英国航空(British Airways)周一宣布推迟缴纳4.5亿英镑的养老金。由于其机队大部分停飞,公司需要尽可能节省现金。 然而前往Covid-19疫情未得到控制的国家的旅行仍然面临限制。评级机构穆迪(Moody 's)表达了谨慎态度,称放松封锁限制的时间表仍可能因对Covid-19病毒新变种的担忧而中断。行业机构国际航空运输协会(Iata)本月警告,与去年极低的水平相比,旅游需求可能仅会恢复13%。如果此话应验,航空公司将在全年继续烧钱。 但在一个更普遍的问题上,各方的意见达成一致:有大量被压抑的需求。去年12月底,家庭银行存款同比增长10%。这并不是平均分布的。更多的人报告说他们的储蓄下降了而不是上升了。较富裕的家庭往往不会花掉他们的财富。即便如此,作为家庭财富中流动性最强的一部分,巨额现金储蓄的积累,意味着酒店行业将受益。许多经济学家预计会出现一种“咆哮的二十年代”式的大肆消费潮。
支撑这种乐观情绪的是疫苗成功的更多佐证。本周来自苏格兰的新数据显示,在推出疫苗后,住院人数大幅下降。老年组的结果“非常鼓舞人心”。这一点意义重大,因为包括德国在内的几个国家,迄今只选择在较年轻的年龄组人群中使用牛津/阿斯利康疫苗。 接种疫苗的好处也并非是平均分配的。它尤其有助于面对面的服务,因为新冠肺炎的社交距离要求,此类服务受到了最严重的冲击。接种疫苗对依赖贸易的行业的影响较小,这些行业正在应对英国退欧的复杂性,这是拖累英国经济的另一个重大因素。 这里也可以讲一个积极的消息。在过去4年里,许多全球投资者都避开了英国股市敞口,但最近的贸易协定提供了一些安慰(尽管效果有限)。 目前,资金正流入英国国内股市。它们被视为相对便宜的股票,受益于投资者倾向于价值型股票。英镑今年大幅上涨。分析人士表示,在所有大国中,疫苗推广速度最快的英国,赋予了其不同寻常的先发优势。如果这种情况继续下去,预计一定程度的繁荣将会回归。 请享受本周剩下的时光。 凡妮莎(Vanessa Houlder) Lex作家
Ukraine to start vaccination campaign as first jabs arrive
Ukraine is poised to start vaccinating its citizens after it received the first batch of Oxford/AstraZeneca doses produced by India’s Serum Institute through licence agreements. “First 500,000 vaccines against Covid-19 [have] arrived," President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted on Tuesday. "We will start vaccination ASAP.” The delivery of the jabs under the CoviShield brand follows delays that the country of 41m, like many other developing economies, has experienced in securing supplies. Health minister Maksym Stepanov flew to India on Thursday in an attempt to speed up the delivery of 12m doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca and US-developed Novavax vaccines, which were secured this month through UK-headquartered Crown Agents. He said on Monday that while there he negotiated the supply of an additional 5m Novavax doses. He expects a total of 15m of those vaccines for Ukraine. It was not immediately clear how many Oxford/Zeneca shots Ukraine will receive through the agreements. Officials said on Monday that the delivery of 117,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines expected this month under the World Health Organization co-led Covax programme had been delayed until March. Covax is to supply Ukraine with as many as 3.7m Oxford/AstraZeneca doses in the first half of this year, officials said on Tuesday. Kyiv has ruled out purchasing vaccines from Russia, which in 2014 occupied Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and fomented a proxy war in far eastern regions that has claimed nearly 14,000 lives. Deep lockdowns imposed last spring helped Ukraine avoid a first large wave of infections but cases have mounted after restrictions were eased over the summer. The country has registered 1,311,844 cases, including 134,758 active ones and 25,309 deaths.
乌克兰在收到印度血清研究所通过许可协议生产的第一批牛津/阿斯利康剂量后,准备开始为其公民接种疫苗。 "首批50万支针对Covid-19的疫苗[已经]到达,"总统Volodymyr Zelensky周二在推特上说。"我们将尽快开始接种疫苗。" 在CoviShield品牌下的注射剂交付之后,这个拥有4100万人口的国家,像许多其他发展中经济体一样,在确保供应方面经历了延误。 卫生部长Maksym Stepanov周四飞往印度,试图加快牛津/阿斯利康和美国开发的诺瓦克斯疫苗的交付,这些疫苗本月通过总部设在英国的皇冠代理公司获得。 他周一表示,在那里,他就另外500万剂诺瓦克斯疫苗的供应进行了谈判。他预计将为乌克兰提供总计1500万支这些疫苗。 目前还不清楚乌克兰将通过协议获得多少牛津/泽尼卡疫苗。 官员们周一表示,根据世界卫生组织共同主导的Covax计划,预计本月交付11.7万支辉瑞-生物技术疫苗的时间被推迟到3月。 官员周二表示,Covax将在今年上半年向乌克兰提供多达370万支牛津/阿斯利康的疫苗。 基辅已经排除了从俄罗斯购买疫苗的可能性,俄罗斯在2014年占领了乌克兰的克里米亚半岛,并在远东地区煽动了一场代理人战争,导致近1.4万人丧生。 去年春天实施的深度封锁帮助乌克兰避免了第一波大规模的感染,但在夏季放松限制后,病例增加。 该国已登记了1 311 844个病例,其中包括134 758个活动病例和25 309个死亡病例。
Rush to book holidays spurs rally in UK travel stocks
Shares in UK-listed travel companies rallied strongly on Tuesday as government plans to lift coronavirus restrictions spurred hopes that bookings across the industry may finally pick up after a miserable year. The biggest advance was in easyJet, which rallied more than 8 per cent after the low-cost carrier said bookings for flights from the UK had more than quadrupled week on week. On a second day of gains for the sector, British Airways owner IAG and holiday company Tui were each up more than 6 per cent. The market gains came a day after prime minister Boris Johnson set out plans for an easing of lockdown. Non-essential international travel will be subject to review, yet restrictions could be lifted as soon as early summer. "Things are looking brighter due to the efficacy of vaccines and growing support for digital health passes," analysts at Jefferies said in a note, adding they expected domestic travel to be the first to recover. Intercontinental Hotel Group, owner of the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza chain, was also up 3.5 per cent as traders looked beyond a $280m annual pre-tax loss to focus on the prospects for a recovery later in the year. Even after the recovery, however, the stocks remain at depressed levels. IAG and easyJet are down about 56 per cent and 29 per cent, respectively, since the start of 2020. "The global airline industry must still rebuild its balance sheet," the Jefferies analysts added.
英国上市旅游公司的股票周二强劲反弹,因为政府计划取消冠状病毒限制,刺激了整个行业的预订量在经历了惨淡的一年后最终回升的希望。 涨幅最大的是easyJet,该公司涨幅超过8%,此前这家低成本航空公司表示,从英国出发的航班预订量每周增加了四倍多。 在该板块上涨的第二天,英国航空的所有者IAG和度假公司Tui分别上涨超过6%。 市场上涨是在首相鲍里斯-约翰逊(Boris Johnson)制定了放松封锁的计划后的第二天。非必要的国际旅行将接受审查,然而限制可能最快在初夏就会取消。 杰富瑞的分析师在一份说明中表示:"由于疫苗的功效和对数字健康证的支持度越来越高,情况看起来更加明朗。"他们预计国内旅行将最先恢复。 连锁假日酒店和皇冠假日酒店的所有者洲际酒店集团也上涨了3.5%,因为交易商将目光从2.8亿美元的年度税前亏损转向关注今年晚些时候的复苏前景。 然而,即使在复苏之后,这些股票仍然处于低迷水平。自2020年开始以来,IAG和easyJet分别下跌了约56%和29%。 "全球航空业仍必须重建其资产负债表,"Jefferies分析师补充道。
Macau gaming shares rise after restrictions lifted for mainland China
Macau gaming stocks soared on the day after the former Portuguese colony lifted all quarantine restrictions for mainland Chinese visitors. Galaxy Entertainment shares closed 8.9 per cent higher while SJM Holdings climbed 7.9 per cent. Sands China gained 7.5 per cent, Melco International went up 6.3 per cent, while MGM China and Wynn Macau each rose about 5 per cent. The territory has opened up to mainland Chinese travellers and analysts have predicted a strong performance during the lunar new year holiday period. “Macau GGR increased significantly during the third week of February,” estimated analysts Vitaly Umansky and Tianjiao Yu from Sanford Bernstein in a note on Monday. “Macau will continue to experience headwinds during the first half of 2021, but we see a strong improvement beginning in the second half as Covid-related travel constraints begin to fall away.”
在前葡萄牙殖民地取消对中国大陆游客的所有检疫限制后,澳门博彩股当天大涨。 银河娱乐股价收盘上涨8.9%,澳博控股上涨7.9%。金沙中国上涨7.5%,新濠国际上涨6.3%,美高梅中国和永利澳门分别上涨约5%。 该地已向中国内地旅客开放,分析师预测农历新年假期期间将有强劲表现。 "澳门GGR在2月第三周显著增加,"Sanford Bernstein的分析师Vitaly Umansky和Tianjiao Yu在周一的一份说明中估计。 "澳门在2021年上半年将继续经历逆风,但我们认为下半年开始会有强劲的改善,因为与Covid相关的旅行限制开始消失。"
EasyJet bookings soar as Johnson plans raise hopes for holidays
EasyJet has seen a surge in bookings since Boris Johnson unveiled his "roadmap" out of lockdown that included rebooting international travel later this year. Bookings for flights from the UK have more than quadrupled week on week, the low-cost carrier said, while its package holiday unit has experienced a more than seven-fold jump in bookings. A UK government taskforce will explore how to safely remove restrictions on mass travel as part of the path out of lockdown announced on Monday, although this is not expected until mid-May at the earliest. The travel industry was shaken by warnings not to book holidays earlier this year, and has broadly welcome the UK government’s plan. "The prime minister’s address has provided a much-needed boost in confidence for so many of our customers in the UK," said easyJet’s chief executive Johan Lundgren.
自从鲍里斯-约翰逊(Boris Johnson)公布了摆脱封锁的 "路线图",其中包括今年晚些时候重启国际旅行以来,EasyJet的预订量激增。 这家低成本航空公司表示,来自英国的航班预订量每周增加了四倍多,而其套餐度假部门的预订量则增长了七倍多。 英国政府的一个工作组将探讨如何安全地取消对大众旅游的限制,作为周一宣布的摆脱封锁路径的一部分,不过预计最早要到5月中旬才能实现。 今年早些时候,旅游行业受到不要预订假期的警告的震动,并对英国政府的计划表示广泛欢迎。 "首相的讲话为我们在英国的众多客户提供了急需的信心支持,"easyJet的首席执行官Johan Lundgren说。
Nigeria's Covid count could be far higher than official tally, survey finds
Nigeria's Covid-19 case count could be in the millions rather than the official tally that puts it in the tens of thousands, a survey by a national public health institute has found. The seroprevalance of 10,000 people in four states found that one in five of those tested have been infected. For Lagos, Nigeria's biggest city, the findings from the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control suggest as many as 4m people have contracted the virus, compared with an official tally of just 54,000. The survey indicates that the "majority of sampled population are susceptible to the virus infection, which highlights [the] need for vaccines”, the NCDC director Chikwe Ihekweazu tweeted late on Monday. Nigeria has recorded roughly 1,800 coronavirus-related deaths. Nigeria's drugs regulator recently approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the country has secured millions of doses through the African Union and the World Health Organization-backed Covax facility. But, as in much of sub-Saharan Africa, the first deliveries have yet to arrive.
一家国家公共卫生机构的调查发现,尼日利亚的Covid-19病例数可能有数百万,而不是官方统计的数万。 对4个州1万人的血清流行情况进行调查发现,被检测者中五分之一的人已经被感染。 对于尼日利亚最大的城市拉各斯,尼日利亚疾病控制中心的调查结果显示,有多达400万人感染了该病毒,而官方统计只有5.4万人。 调查显示,"大多数抽样人口容易感染病毒,这突出了[疫苗]的需求",NCDC主任Chikwe Ihekweazu周一晚些时候在推特上发布了消息。 尼日利亚已经记录了大约1,800名冠状病毒相关的死亡。 尼日利亚的药品监管机构最近批准了牛津/阿斯利康疫苗,该国已通过非洲联盟和世界卫生组织支持的Covax设施获得了数百万剂疫苗。 但是,与撒哈拉以南非洲大部分地区一样,第一批疫苗尚未运抵。
UK unemployment rises as lockdown takes hold
The UK labour market was all but frozen at the end of the year, with unemployment edging up and a previous pick-up in hiring stalling as the surge in Covid-19 infections put reopening on hold. The jobless rate rose to 5.1 per cent in the three months to December, a rise of 0.4 percentage points from the previous quarter and in line with expectations, official statistics showed on Tuesday. The employment rate of 75 per cent was 1.5 percentage points lower than a year earlier, with 541,000 fewer people in employment. The figures suggest that the extension of the government’s furlough scheme has helped to limit redundancies and stabilise the labour market, while keeping it in a state of suspension. They will reinforce calls from business and unions for support to be extended well after the reopening of the economy begins to lessen the risk of a further surge in job losses. “The government will need to provide ongoing help,” said Tej Parikh, chief economist at the Institute of Directors. "The Budget next week needs to provide a bridge for businesses to begin the process of rescaling and rehiring." The headline unemployment rate does not reflect the true extent of slack in the labour market. Real-time payroll data collected by HM Revenue & Customs suggest that despite small increases over the last two months, there are 726,000 fewer employee jobs in the UK than there were last February before the pandemic hit, a fall of 2.5 per cent. The biggest drop in payrolled employees has been among 18-24 year olds
英国劳动力市场在年底全部冻结,失业率微升,之前的招聘回升也因Covid-19感染病例激增而停滞不前。 周二官方统计数据显示,截至12月的三个月,失业率升至5.1%,较上季上升0.4个百分点,符合预期。就业率为75%,比上年同期低1.5个百分点,就业人数减少54.1万人。 这些数据表明,政府延长休假计划有助于限制裁员,稳定劳动力市场,同时使其处于暂停状态。这些数据将加强企业和工会的呼吁,要求在经济开始重新开放后,将支持的时间延长,以降低失业率进一步激增的风险。 "政府将需要提供持续的帮助,"董事学会首席经济学家Tej Parikh表示。"下周的预算案需要为企业提供一个桥梁,以开始重新调整规模和重新招聘的过程。" 头条失业率并不能反映劳动力市场的真实松弛程度。 英国税务及海关总署收集的实时薪资数据显示,尽管过去两个月有小幅增长,但英国的雇员工作岗位比去年2月疫情发生前减少了72.6万个,降幅为2.5%。其中,18-24岁的受薪员工降幅最大。
Frasers Group warns of £100m charge as lockdown bites
弗拉瑟斯集团警告说,禁售令带来的1亿英镑费用-|-弗雷泽集团(fraser Group)警告称,防范禁闭会带来1亿英镑的费用-|-Frasers Group警告称,锁定禁令将导致1亿英镑的费用
Frasers Group has put investors in the UK retailer on notice over a potential impairment charge of more than £100m as lockdown restrictions on high streets drag on. The group behind Sports Direct and Evans Cycles, as well as the eponymous department store chain, said it anticipated taking a “material” non-cash accounting hit on the value of freehold properties and other assets. It comes a day after the UK government laid down plans for a “cautious” approach to easing lockdown, under which non-essential shops in England will not reopen until April 12 at the earliest. The company, run by billionaire Mike Ashley, cited “the length of the current lockdown, potential systemic changes to consumer behaviour and the risk of further restrictions in future”.
Frasers集团已经向英国零售商的投资者发出通知,由于对高街的封锁限制拖累,可能会有超过1亿英镑的减值费用。 该集团背后的Sports Direct和Evans Cycles以及同名连锁百货公司表示,预计将对永久产权物业和其他资产的价值造成 "重大 "非现金会计冲击。 此前一天,英国政府制定了 "谨慎 "的放松封锁计划,根据该计划,英国的非必要商店最早要到4月12日才会重新开业。 亿万富翁迈克-阿什利(Mike Ashley)经营的公司以 "当前锁店时间长、消费者行为可能发生系统性变化以及未来进一步限制的风险 "为由。
Hancock urges England to ‘pull together’ to ensure swift path out of lockdown
汉考克敦促英格兰 "齐心协力 "确保迅速走出封锁的道路-|-汉考克敦促英国“齐心协力”,确保迅速摆脱封锁-|-汉考克敦促英格兰“齐心协力”,以确保迅速摆脱封锁
The UK health secretary insisted the government’s path out of lockdown is “irreversible” and added that if everybody pulled together England could emerge from the latest restrictions as swiftly as possible. “We are absolutely determined to come out of this as safely and as fast as possible,” Matt Hancock said, “but no faster.” He was speaking the day after prime minister Boris Johnson laid out his four-step plan out of the latest restriction measures that have closed hairdressers, bars, non-essential businesses and schools. The government stands ready to do “whatever it takes” to protect livelihoods and businesses, Hancock told Sky News on Tuesday. The UK prime minister said on Monday the “end really is in sight” as he outlined his plans to end all Covid-19 restrictions by mid-June. Chancellor Rishi Sunak, meanwhile, is preparing in his Budget next week to extend emergency support measures until the summer. He is expected to include measures to protect jobs and help businesses through weeks or even months of further disruption. “It’s very, very important that we can see the impact of one step before taking the next,” Hancock said on Tuesday, adding that it is a “judgment of how much of what we can lift and at what moment”. “If everybody responds and pulls together,” he added, “we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The best way to get there is to keep abiding by the rules.”
英国卫生大臣坚持认为政府的脱锁之路是 "不可逆转的",并补充说,如果大家团结一致,英格兰可以尽快摆脱最新的限制。 "我们绝对有决心尽可能安全和快速地走出困境,"马特-汉考克说,"但不会更快。" 他是在首相鲍里斯-约翰逊(Boris Johnson)阐述他的四步计划后的第二天发言的,这些最新的限制措施已经关闭了理发店、酒吧、非必要的企业和学校。 汉考克周二告诉天空新闻,政府随时准备 "不惜一切代价 "保护民生和企业。 英国首相周一表示,"末日真的在望",他概述了在6月中旬前结束所有Covid-19限制的计划。与此同时,大法官苏纳克(Rishi Sunak)正准备在下周的预算案中延长紧急支持措施至夏季。预计他将包括保护就业和帮助企业度过数周甚至数月的进一步混乱的措施。 "在采取下一步措施之前,我们可以看到一步的影响,这是非常非常重要的,"汉考克周二表示,并补充说,这是一个 "判断我们可以解除多少,在什么时刻解除 "的问题。 "如果每个人都响应并团结起来,"他补充说,"我们可以看到隧道尽头的光。到达那里的最好方法是继续遵守规则。"
Indian bond yields ascend on investor fears over borrowing plans
Indian bond yields have jumped higher as investors fret over the government’s borrowing plans aimed at supporting an economic recovery from the pandemic. The yield on the 10-year Indian government bond rose to a six month high this week, touching 6.2 per cent. India has substantially increased its borrowing plans in order to help revive its economy from a steep coronavirus-induced slump. The government said it will borrow Rs12tn ($165.8bn) in the financial year starting April. The move in Indian bond yields has mirrored a rise in US Treasury yields, but analysts say it has been pushed higher by uncertainty over whether the government will be able to manage its ambitious borrowing targets for the coming year. “The market is not convinced,” said Suman Chowdhury, an analyst at Acuité Ratings. The government’s targets “will be difficult to absorb”, he added. The increase contributed to a 2 per cent fall in the benchmark Sensex equities index on Monday, although it drifted higher on Tuesday. The government is also budgeting a fiscal deficit of 6.8 per cent of GDP for the coming year. The government said however that it has laid out a “fiscal glide path” that will see the deficit cut to about 4.5 per cent by the 2025-26 financial year. Chowdhury said that investors were sceptical. “They believe the fiscal deficit may also be higher than what the government is talking about,” he said.
印度公债收益率跳涨,因投资者对政府旨在支持经济从疫情中复苏的借款计划感到担忧。 10年期印度政府债券收益率本周升至六个月高位,触及6.2%。 印度大幅增加了借贷计划,以帮助其经济从冠状病毒引起的急剧下滑中复苏。政府表示,将在4月开始的财政年度借入120亿卢比(1658亿美元)。 印度债券收益率的走势反映了美国国债收益率的上升,但分析师表示,由于政府是否能够管理其未来一年雄心勃勃的借款目标的不确定性,印度债券收益率被推高。 "市场并不相信,"Acuité Ratings的分析师Suman Chowdhury表示。他补充道,政府的目标 "将难以消化"。 涨幅导致基准Sensex股票指数周一下跌2%,不过周二漂高。 政府还预算来年的财政赤字为GDP的6.8%。不过政府表示,已经制定了一条 "财政滑行路径",到2025-26财年,赤字将降至4.5%左右。 Chowdhury表示,投资者对此持怀疑态度。"他们认为财政赤字也可能比政府所说的要高,"他说。
IHG loses $280m in its 'most challenging year'
洲际酒店集团 "最具挑战的一年 "亏损2.8亿美元-|-洲际酒店“最具挑战性的一年”亏损2.8亿美元-|-IHG在其“最具挑战性的一年”中失去了280万美元
Intercontinental Hotel Group, owner of Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels, has warned that the difficulties of the “most challenging year” in its history have stretched into 2021 as new strains of coronavirus force countries to close borders and limit travel. Results on Tuesday showed revenues across the FTSE 100 group fell 48 per cent to $2.4bn in the year to the end of December 2020 while its earnings per share more than halved from 210 cents to 143 cents. It swung from a pre-tax profit of $542m to a loss of $280m. Revenue per available room - the hotel industry’s preferred performance metric - was still far below historic levels in the fourth quarter, it said. China, where a hard suppression of the virus has allowed greater easing of restrictions, had the best performance but the so-called revpar was still 18.2 per cent below 2019 levels. Europe, which has been hard hit by a third wave of the virus, performed worst of all the group’s regions with revpar 70 per cent lower year-on-year in the final three months of 2020. IHG said its economy brands had performed best and that its strength in that segment of the industry made it more resilient than rivals. Many economy hotels have been able to stay open to host essential business travellers such as those working in manufacturing and healthcare. “2020 was clearly the most challenging year in our history, with Covid-19 heavily impacting demand across our industry. 2021 has begun with many of these challenges still in place, with more meaningful progress towards recovery for the industry unlikely until later in the year,” Keith Barr, IHG’s chief executive said. The battered hotel group said that it had available liquidity of $2.1bn excluding the repayment of a £600m UK government loan due in March. It is targeting a reduction in costs of $75m this year, while still aiming to invest in the business for growth once borders reopen, it said.
假日酒店和皇冠假日酒店的所有者洲际酒店集团警告说,由于新的冠状病毒菌株迫使各国关闭边界并限制旅行,其历史上 "最具挑战性的一年 "的困难已经延伸到2021年。 周二的业绩显示,截至2020年12月底的一年中,整个富时100集团的收入下降了48%,至24亿美元,而其每股收益从210美分到143美分减少了一半以上。它从税前利润5.42亿美元摇身一变成为亏损2.8亿美元。 它表示,第四季度每间可用客房的收入--酒店业首选的业绩指标--仍远低于历史水平。中国由于对病毒的硬性压制,使得限制条件得到较大放松,表现最好,但所谓的revpar仍比2019年水平低18.2%。 受第三波病毒重创的欧洲,在集团所有地区中表现最差,2020年最后三个月的revpar同比下降70%。 IHG表示,其经济型品牌表现最好,在该领域的优势使其比竞争对手更具弹性。许多经济型酒店一直能够保持开放,以接待必要的商务旅客,如在制造业和医疗保健行业工作的旅客。 "2020年显然是我们历史上最具挑战性的一年,Covid-19严重影响了我们整个行业的需求。2021年伊始,许多挑战依然存在,行业复苏不太可能在今年晚些时候取得更有意义的进展,"IHG首席执行官Keith Barr表示。 这家饱受打击的酒店集团表示,不包括3月到期的6亿英镑英国政府贷款的偿还,其可用流动资金为21亿美元。它说,今年的目标是减少7500万美元的成本,同时仍致力于在边境重新开放后投资业务增长。
HSBC to resume dividends despite 34% profit drop
HSBC will resume paying a dividend despite announcing a 34 per cent drop in annual profits after its global business was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Europe’s largest bank performed slightly above analysts’ expectations in 2020 although it was weighed down by loan losses, reporting profit before tax of $8.8bn, down from $13.4bn the previous year. In the fourth quarter, adjusted profit slid 50 per cent year on year to $2.2bn, just above the $1.8bn estimated by analysts. The bank said on Tuesday that it would start paying a dividend of $0.15 a share after a Bank of England ban on shareholder payouts was partially lifted late last year. “We have had a good start to 2021, and I am cautiously optimistic for the year ahead,” Noel Quinn, HSBC chief executive, said in a statement. Read more here
汇丰银行宣布,在全球业务受到冠状病毒大流行的重创后,年利润下降34%,但仍将恢复派息。 欧洲最大银行2020年业绩略高于分析师预期,不过受贷款损失拖累,报告税前利润为88亿美元,低于上年的134亿美元。 第四季度,调整后利润同比下滑50%至22亿美元,仅高于分析师估计的18亿美元。 该行周二表示,在去年年底英国央行对股东派息的部分禁令被解除后,该行将开始派发每股0.15美元的股息。 "我们在2021年有一个良好的开端,我对未来一年的发展持谨慎乐观的态度,"汇丰银行首席执行官Noel Quinn在一份声明中表示。 阅读更多这里
Indian states impose travel restrictions as cases tick higher
India is facing a wave of domestic travel restrictions as the number of new coronavirus infections begins to climb after several months of decline. The western state of Gujarat has set up border check posts to screen travellers coming by road from neighbouring states, including Maharashtra, and will check arriving passengers at railways stations on inbound trains. The southern state of Karnataka has also sealed many roads and demanded travellers produce negative Covid-19 test results to continue their journeys. Tamil Nadu has also requested negative tests for incoming air passengers from certain states. The patchwork of abrupt restrictions and test requirements highlighted the likelihood of further disruptions in India from the pandemic, as cases have begun to increase after five months of steady decline. The seven-day moving average of India’s daily cases fell to a low of 11,000 on February 12 but has since risen to 12,900, a 16 per cent increase, raising fears that some areas of the country could be poised for surges. Of India’s most recent 1m cases, 34 per cent came from Maharashtra, home to Mumbai, while 22 per cent came from the southern state of Kerala. India has dramatically relaxed controls on most economic activities except for education, which has yet to resume. Most of India’s young school children have not set foot in a classroom since last March.
印度正面临着国内旅行限制的浪潮,因为新的冠状病毒感染人数在经过几个月的下降后开始攀升。 西部的古吉拉特邦已经设立了边境检查站,对从马哈拉施特拉邦等邻国陆路来的旅客进行检查,并将在铁路站对入境列车上的到站旅客进行检查。 南部的卡纳塔克邦也封锁了许多道路,并要求旅客出具阴性的Covid-19检测结果才能继续旅行。泰米尔纳德邦也要求来自某些邦的入境航空旅客出具阴性检测结果。 突如其来的限制和测试要求的拼凑凸显出印度有可能受到疫情的进一步干扰,因为在经历了五个月的稳定下降后,病例开始增加。 印度每日病例的七天移动平均数在2月12日跌至1.1万例的低点,但此后已升至1.29万例,增加了16%,这使人们担心该国一些地区可能会出现激增。 在印度最近的100万病例中,34%来自孟买的所在地马哈拉施特拉邦,22%来自南部的喀拉拉邦。 除教育尚未恢复外,印度已大幅放松了对大多数经济活动的控制。自去年3月以来,印度的大多数年轻学童都没有踏进教室。



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