Monday, 16 December 2013

End of Days

All around you see corporate Australia in trouble.  Big names taking hits QBE Insurance profits down, QANTAS bonds rated as junk and the car industry imploding. 

...More than $5 billion has been wiped off QBE's market value in two days, as investors punish the company for repeatedly disappointing and analysts warn that further pain could follow this week's profit downgrade.
In another blow to the insurer, Moody's on Tuesday downgraded its credit to Baa2, two notches above the rating it gives ''junk'' or speculative assets. It cited a weaker outlook for profits and higher debts.(here)
and meanwhile it seems S&P forgot to factor in the likelihood of possible future adverse macro events when they tried to bring some positive spin to current events...
Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s has said the troubles faced by two of Australia’s most iconic brand names, Qantas and Holden, should not be regarded as a sign that the nation’s economy is derailing. [note it absolutely IS a sign!]
In a rare comment piece, the global rating agency said its decision to downgrade Qantas was a reflection of the competition the airline sector, which hit its earnings, and not the result of a change in consumer sentiment, and therefore it does not reflect broader economic conditions.
A drop in sentiment could further stall the much-needed pick-up in business and household spending. As it is, Standard & Poor’s currently forecasts ongoing subdued economic growth in 2014, with the fall in mining investment not fully offset by a very slowly re-emerging non-mining sector,” the agency said.(here)
And note this is also optimistic because it appears a lot of companies are fiddling the books - misstating their accounts to paint a more healthy picture (see this announcement by ASIC about its concerns of what is essentially degrees of fraud, or at least not complying with the spirit of accounting rules and principles).

 Part of the blame must surely lie with the resource curse - the substitutional effects the mining and resources economy has on the rest of the economy and a point well made in Britain's Telegraph:

The country is exhibiting clear signs of the “resource curse” as other sectors of industry whither on the vine, literally in the case of struggling vineyards. The beautiful wine-growing region of Hunter Valley is being “ripped apart” by coal mines, according to local activists. (here)

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