Aug 26, 2013 – Debt Drags on China’s Growth
- Outstanding borrowing by businesses and households rose to 170% of GDP at the end of 2012 from 117% in 2008 (2012 figure for U.S. was 157%);
- Interest and principal payments currently absorb a third of GDP; was 21% for U.S at the end of 2007 and broadly unchanged at the end of 2012;
- few signs of imminent crisis: low bad debt levels; high savings rate; tightly controlled capital accounts; lenders and borrowers are both state-owned in many cases;
- … still threaten to choke growth (indebted companies and governments), banks might have to slow lending if bad debts mount, and a higher interest rates would add to the pressure – 1% increase in rate would add 2% of GDP to the annual burden of repayment;
- Kunming Transport Investment Co. – example of many projects since 2008 generating little returns – had taken on 37.9 billion yuan in debt, more than the city’s entire tax revenue.
Aug 27, 2013 – Gold Nears Three-Month High
- Gold futures touching $1,423 an ounce, highest level since June 6;
- “U.S. Treasurys, gold and crude oil are the things you want to be buying if there’s talk of war.”
- … also from renewed concerns about debt borrowing limit in mid-October – investors seek out the safety of the hard asset when they worry that fixcal or monetary policy decision could erode the value of paper money.
Sept 3, 2013 – Microsoft-Nokia: The Death of Hardware and Software
- Scale in distribution and in skills (software is hardware, hardware is software, everything is everything) now matter more: interestingly, neither has proved adept at hardware or software;
- Samsung, trying to create its own operating system with Intel, called Tizen;
- China-based Huawei, now the world’s third-largest smartphone share;
- software developers continued to lose leverage – have little choice but to commit to the two ascendant platforms – a matter of scale that Microsoft knows too well from Windows;
- THE WINNER IS THE NETWORK – barriers to entry for building wireless networks remain very high: in a world where everything is everything, the distinctions between good hardware and good software won’t matter much to the middleman.
Sept 3, 2013 – Microsoft and Nokia Send a Weak Signal
- Android powered 75% of smartphones worldwide, iOS grabbing a 17% share; Windows Phone had just 3%;
- chicken/egg problem – needing market share to attract (app) developers but needing developers to build market share;
- (the deal) also further complicates Microsoft’s business model – historically relied on outside hardware makers to deliver its highly profitable software; “the added twist is that, despite this, Microsoft’s weak position in mobile meant it had little choice but to do it anyway.”
Sept 4, 2013 – Stocks Notch Broad Gains
- Intel led gains in 26 of 30 blue-chip stocks – unveiled new data-center processors;
- U.S. economy grew at a “modest to moderate” pace in July and August;
- expect Fed to wind down bond buying program;
- Strength in spending on cars, seen by Ford reporting its best retail-sales month in seven years;
Sept 4, 2013 – U.S. Trade Deficit Widens as Imports Rise
- From June to July, U.S. imports rose 1.6% while exports fell 0.6%; trade deficit expanded by 13.3% to $39.15 billion;
- rebound in imports: strengthening in consumer spending, which rose 0.1% in July;
- decline in exports: reminder that global growth remains weak; partially reversed the strong gains of June。
Source: Wall Street Journal.