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Brexit – the impact on your business

| 02-05-2018 | Lionel Pavey |

 

As the negotiations between the EU and the UK get ever more complicated, there is a strong possibility that rather than a hard or soft Brexit there will be no agreement whatsoever. For businesses that either export to the UK or import from, this could have a fundamental impact on their survival. The Netherlands exports goods and services to the UK with a value in excess of EUR 40 billion per year; more than 200,000 jobs are directly linked with trade to the UK; Dutch capital investment in the UK is more than EUR 180 billion. We take a look at some of the key areas where business could be affected from the viewpoint of cashflows.

Foreign Exchange

It is not known how many Dutch companies actively employ a hedging policy. If GBP was to significantly get weaker, demand in the UK might fall or lead to more contracts having to be settled in GBP. However, at the same time, Dutch companies relying on components from the UK could see their suppliers having their profit margins squeezed – potentially leading to problems in maintaining and fulfilling existing contractual obligations. The biggest concern would involve increased currency volatility. If EUR/GBP does become more volatile, this could lead to clients in the UK shopping further afield to obtain the goods and services they require – leading to a drop in exports for the Netherlands. What are the alternatives available – banking in the UK; offsetting existing supply chains by changing components with UK firms etc?

Funding

At present, the UK receives EU funding and this can be the basis for investment decisions regardless of the location of the business. As this will stop when they leave, there will be an impact on companies that have a multiple presence in both countries. Changes in regulations will bring extra complexity, restrictions and possibly affect the profitability of existing business arrangements. The immediate loss of passporting rights for financial services should not be underestimated.

Supply Chain

All existing supply chains operate under the premise of the single market, with no internal quotas or tariffs. The initial affect will be seen by the imposition of trade barriers, caused by a new trade agreement. This does not just extend to trade tariffs, but also to the implementation of VAT (BTW) on B2B transactions. The dairy industry is one that could be hit especially hard. EU tariffs for non-EU countries are as high as 45 per cent on some dairy products.
Non trade barriers are also a threat – different technical standards, labelling, compliance, together with extended delays in the shipment process (as goods will need to be inspected) will add to both the cost and time of trade.

KYC

All parties will be affected – but do you know what the position is of your clients in the UK? What are their pain thresholds; are they seeking alternatives markets; are they looking for alternative suppliers; how resilient are their logistical chains to change; how will changes in law and regulations affect their operations?
There are a myriad of unanswered questions that need to be addressed – one on one – with every counterparty.

What to do

It is imperative that companies perform a Quick Scan as soon as possible to try and evaluate what their exposure is in the UK and what percentage that makes of all trade for a company. Having ascertained the exposure, it then becomes necessary to stress test the processes and try to model the results on the company by inputting new variables.

With less than 1 year to go, you will need to start very soon!!

Lionel Pavey

Lionel Pavey

Cash Management and Treasury Specialist

 

Can it all be about the Treasury yield?

| 13-02-2018 | treasuryXL |

Since the beginning of February there has seen large declines in all the major stock markets – Dow Jones down 9%, AEX down 7%, DAX down 7%, FTSE down 5%. The major reason given is that the market has been disturbed by the thought that interest rates in the US will rise more quickly than previously expected as prospects of inflation come to the fore. Going counter to this thought is the explanation that stock markets achieved good growth in 2017 – all major markets were up with some growing by 15% – and that this is a bout of profit taking, before participants will buy on the dip.

There is a major rethink as to the predicted treasury yields for the end of 2018. The German 10year Treasury yield, which is seen as a benchmark in the Eurozone, had an average yield in 2017 of about 0.30%. In the first six weeks of 2018 this has more than doubled and the yield is now 0.72%. Reports that had been published at the end of 2017 are rapidly being updated as the predictions are adjusted for the reality of the current market. A quick look at the websites of major banks show a consensus that the yield could easily be 1% at the end of 2018.

As the German 10year Treasury is a benchmark for pricing other long dated instruments within the Eurozone, this implies that all other rates will be rising faster than expected. If we assume that spreads between Interest rate swaps (IRS) and Treasury remains fairly constant, this would imply that 10year EUR IRS will have a fixed rate around 1.50% by the end of 2018 having averaged around 0.80% for 2017.

Included is a graph showing the price movement of 10Y EUR IRS since start of 2017

At the moment headline inflation is remaining stable, but it appears that the market is expecting inflation to move higher in 2018. The increase in the yield of US 10 year Treasury rates has been more rapid than expected – at the moment the yield is almost 2.90%. It would appear that the increase in US rates is pulling other currency yields higher. Furthermore rises in US interest rates will have an impact on FX hedging policies for companies.

Treasury yields have been in a bull market for almost 40 years – in the early 1980s the yield on 10year German treasury was around 10%. This fell gradually and actually turned negative in 2016. Are we entering a new bear market?

2018 – the black swan could be China

| 21-12-2017 | Rob Beemster |

 

Chinese gross domestic product (GDP) is forecasted to end 2017 at around $12 trillion, while the total debt to GDP is about 400%. The economic growth has been impressive as well is its nominal (but also relative) rise of the total debt.

The Chinese economy has grown from the start of its GATT membership in 1995 from around $750 bio to $12trl now. However, total credit grew much more, from around 100% of GDP in 2000 to more than 400% of GDP now.

 

Credit growth is still surging. This is one reason why the Chinese want their economy to expand at a speed of more than 10%. They need to hold this pattern for some years to come. When the Chinese government is able to put a brake on the growth of credit, GDP is allowed to decrease speed. We see comments from those in power about their wish to slow credit growth. But doing this is like changing the course of a tanker in a canal. In other words.

If Chinese GDP growth would decrease, and credit growth continues to surge, then a big disaster is to happen. The huge mountains of debt have to be financed, when this gets tougher, one can imagine that it will result in a Chinese economic slowdown.

If the credit bubble bursts, it will result in a devaluation of the yuan. This will have effect on the whole world economy. During the Asian crisis in 1997, China was a tiny economy, now it is huge. So not only mature economies like the ones of America and Europe will feel the pain but the surrounding countries and Africa will suffer heavily.

The outcome for the dollar overall, is fairly vague to me. Some economists see a Chinese devaluation as highly deflationary for the global economy and therefor a dollar bullish event. I have got doubts to the last part of that view. China has got an enormous stock of dollar bonds. It would not surprise me if they start selling these during an economic crisis.

If you are a corporation trading with China, 2018 might become an exciting year.  As said, my story is about a black swan so most probably this doom story will not happen. And I hope it will not. But:  hedging your currency flow is highly recommended. Even when you pay your producer in dollars or your Chinese client pays you in dollars, your risk is the CHINESE YUAN.  It is NOT a dollar risk. The same must be said if you transmit your goods with Euro.

Creating a decent yuan hedge will be very important. Again, it is not a dollar or euro risk. When the yuan devaluates, the costs have to be paid somewhere. Don’t let it be you!

Barcelona valuta experts can attend you in creating a decent risk process, so your cash flow will be protected.

 

Rob Beemster

Owner of Barcelona valuta experts BV

 

The treasurer plays with fire, when hedging foreign currencies to his sole gut feelings

| 24-11-2017 | Rob Beemster |

Hedging

 

The foreign exchange market is a highly volatile market and therefore full of surprises. For more than 20 years, I was a spot currency trader in the dealing room of a large international bank. One of the things I liked the most in being a trader was the unpredictability of the markets. Never a dull moment. The management of the bank gave us a lot of freedom, once you had proven the ability to handle this. But always we had to take care of some very important requirements, like the VAR (Value At Risk), and we had to protect our positions with stop-loss orders.

 

Executing a stop-loss was the worst part of my job. It proved that you had been wrong in judging a certain move of a currency. It sometimes felt like being a loser. However, executing at a stop-loss level gives you the freedom  to restart a new currency position.  We were never blamed by colleagues or the management for having executed a stop-loss. It was part of the risks, and by using a stop everyone knew that overall business would never be hurt.  If losses taken by stops were in line with the profits taken (relatively speaking) everything would be fine, considering that a good trader makes more positive decisions then negative ones.

Now let’s consider the controller who decides on his hedges, based on his gut feelings. Most probably this is based on old nonsensical ideas like, “what goes up must go down”, and, “It will come back to old levels”. Because of my business today, I speak with finance managers about their hedging strategies. Sometimes they make me feel embarrassed because of their self-created strategies; “I like to play foreign currency strategy myself”, or; “we have had good years and less good years”. From a business economic point of view this can be very painful. Volatility in foreign currencies is a very important component of international business. But one has to realize that this component can be managed. Companies should install a risk management procedure on their foreign currency exposure/obligations, to preserve their profit margins. A proper strategy not only protects the margins and cash flow but will also create prudency within the entire company.

A currency strategy is an implemented structure, necessary for the finance department. However, others that are responsible for the flows, like sales departments, procurement or production, should be involved and be aware of the importance of the strategy as well. Our models do describe the tasks of all the departments. A communication plan is part of the currency strategy. When the implemented processes are understood by everyone within the company, then and only then the strategy will work.

Our foreign currency risk models are very useful within international operating corporations.  We can help you to implement the processes that will secure cash flows. A controller, who makes decisions on FX out of the blue, is unacceptable and too dangerous for the continuity of the business, moreover, it is intolerable in modern finance departments.

Barcelona valuta experts can be of assistance to you. After precise research of the current status of your company we can implement the right models. And this will protect you against negative or unwelcome currency moves.

 

Rob Beemster

Owner of Barcelona valuta experts BV

Foreign currency hedging, a protection of cash flow

| 25-10-2017 | Rob Beemster |

Currency volatility is a well-known uncertain component of international business. In the pre-euro era one could suffer severely by currency movements of its European neighbours. Corporations, dealing within euro countries, have diminished the currency exposure.

A historical overview of the euro versus the us dollar

Looking back over the last 60 years, we can see that from 1958 till early 1970s there was  stability due to the Bretton Woods golden standard. At the end of this, the Vietnam War made it impossible to keep the dollar relation to gold. Early 1980s, the Reagan administration introduced a new economic policy; Reaganomics. Lower taxes and high governmental expenditure. This created a huge mess in America’s monetary situation. Interest rates went to enormous heights, the dollar climbed to unknown levels against the yen and European currencies. American exporters could not sell their products due to this high dollar.

Why the attention to Reaganomics? Well, the Trump administration is a vigorous trailer of the Reagan policy. Lower taxes might be introduced soon and Mr Trump also wants to invest heavily in infrastructure. Obvious, some similarities with Reagan. The new helm of the Federal Reserve Board will soon be appointed. When the board will have more hawks than doves, interest rates might raise sooner than expected. This might have consequences for the dollar and we may see here a reflection of the early 1980s.

 Trump and the us dollar

It is known that President Trump regularly protests to so-called currency manipulators like China and Germany. Their trade policies are in his view unacceptable. Due to this view of Trump on currencies, it will be questionable whether he would tolerate a higher dollar at all. The highly unpredictable Trump policy makes it impossible to judge in what direction the dollar will manoeuvre.

 The highly volatile euro/us dollar

The dollar has fluctuated severely since the euro introduction in 1999. ECB’s first President, Mr Duisenberg was facing tough times as the euro went from its introduction level of 1.17 to the low of 0.8350 a couple of years later. His world trip to recommend the euro as world reserve currency  has realized a demand from authorities to stock euro’s in their currency reserve system. The aggressive build-up of FX reserves by Asian monetary authorities has helped to revitalize the euro. Duisenberg made it happen that the currency went up from low 0.80s to almost 1.60 against us dollar in a couple of years. This occurred not so long ago!

 Two examples of neglected currency risk

1, many corporations have changed its landscape to the global market. A lot of exporters are billing their products in euros. A currency risk is obvious when these companies focus on one target area. Clients may find the products too expensive when euro is rising. So one runs indirectly a currency risk. Many countries have linked their currency to the dollar, so a change in the euro/us dollar may have consequence on your sales.

2, trading with China and agreeing to do the transfer in dollars, does not really mean that the risk exposure is in dollars. The transfer risk is in dollars, but the real currency risk is in yuan. Say, the European importer buys goods from China and both have agreed to do the payments in dollars. The Chinese counterparty will adjust the price of the goods when yuan moves against the dollar. The European corporation should install an us dollar/yuan currency risk hedging policy.

Don’t underestimate the course of currencies

Being an active international corporation is not easy, many components are changing markets constantly. Internet makes markets more transparent then ever thought, automation changes the landscape, consumer behaviour is sometimes not logical and newcomers/interrupters create new markets. Within this one has to deal with currency volatility. But this is a component one can conduct. Foreign currency strategy is essential for any internationally active corporation. Currency volatility cannot be underestimated and needs control.

Barcelona valuta experts can help you to create a decent foreign currency strategy. Call us on +31.654981315 or mail us via info@barcelonafx.nl for more information.

 

Rob Beemster

Owner of Barcelona valuta experts BV