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BBVA Research | Geo-World: Conflict & Social Unrest

BBVA Research | Geo-World: Conflict & Social Unrest

On the occasion of the annual meeting of the International Advisory Panel of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, BBVA Executive Chairman Francisco González shared his vision of the implications of the current technological revolution: “The technological and digital transformation is an extraordinary opportunity, but actively managing the changes it entails is fundamental to ensuring equal opportunity and the transfer of its enormous benefits, advantages and possibilities to the whole of society.”

For months, European authorities have been mulling over a crucial issue for the health of the financial sector: reducing the stock of non-performing assets that have been piling up in banks’ balance sheets during the years of financial crisis.  The creation of a bad European bank is one of the alternatives that are being considered to solve the problem.

A photo of Hurricane Harvey as seen from space in a photo from NASA.

After barreling into the state of Texas, as one of the largest and most damaging Hurricanes in U.S history, Hurricane Harvey continues to devastate the Corpus Christi-Houston-Galveston area with catastrophic destruction, human losses, and unprecedented flooding.

As the region begins to pick up the pieces in the weeks, months and years to come, there is a growing concern about the impact that Hurricane Harvey will have on the regional and national economy.

On March 25, 1957, representatives from the six founding countries of the European Community put their signatures to the Treaties of Rome, consisting of blank pages due to a problem with the printing. Sixty years on, Europe “is an enormous success”, but today it also has “blank pages still to be filled in” for the project to continue with its process of completion. This was the metaphor used by Jose Manuel González-Páramo, the CEO of BBVA, to describe the current situation of the EU.

BBVA has participated in a public hearing in the European Parliament, organized by the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI). The aim of the hearing was to allow stakeholders to share their insights into the directive’s insolvency proposal with the MEPs. BBVA was the only representative of the financial sector, a fact that attests to the bank’s relevance for EU institutions on these matters.

jackson-hole-bbva

Once more this year, the symposium of the most important central bankers in the world was held in Jackson Hole from August 24 to 26. Under scrutiny were Janet Yellen, the Chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve and Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank. Their words gave no indications of any changes with respect to the future of monetary policy.

Most people would agree that the U.S. economy’s current expansion cycle has been anemic. Since 2010, average real GDP growth has been 2.1 percent, significantly lower than 3.2 percent between 1992 and 2007. Over time, the cumulative difference between the two paths could be quite dramatic. The average person would be 17 percent less wealthy after 15 years, and 38 percent less wealthy after 30 years.

crisis economic market bbva 090817

In 2007, one of the biggest financial crisis in modern history started, one that has brought drastic changes to the world’s economy.

The bursting of the financial bubble caused by subprime mortgages triggered a deep economic recession, especially in countries such as Spain.  The crisis also resulted in record-high unemployment rates that still affect large segments of the population.  This is how the crisis that started a decade ago has evolved and affected people and the economy.

For every 100 euros European citizens earn, they pay an average of 50 euros in taxes and contributions.  Of the amount they pay in taxes, only 1 euro is devoted to financing the budget of the European Union.  Thus, in total, Europe manages a budget equivalent to 1% of the gross national income of its Member States.  However, the way this money is invested has a direct impact on the lives of Europeans.

The current climate of change inside and outside Europe has led the European Commission to reflect on the future of its public accounts.  In the document entitled  ‘The Future of EU finances‘, the Commission analyzes the current configuration of the budget and its future options. This document is part of a series of reflections brought about by the White Paper on the future of Europe, which set forth the different challenges and scenarios the EU will be facing through 2025.

Mario Draghi did not surprise anyone yesterday. As expected, the European Central Bank (ECB) unanimously decided to leave interest rates unchanged. He also did not announce any immediate changes to the asset purchase program. However, he did offer some clues as to the direction the ECB will follow after the summer.  As BBVA Research notes in its ECB Watch report, the discussion on gradually tapering QE (Quantitative Easing, the ECB´s asset purchase program) will take place in the fall – most likely in September.

Picture of Pacific alliance hands Chile BBVA

The Pacific Alliance, made up of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, is a regional economic and comercial powerhouse.  This area grows more than the average in Latin America. BBVA Research expects GDP growth of 1.6% and 2.3% in 2017 and 2018, respectively.  “The Pacific Alliance is a success story in integration.  And not by chance.  It shares an ambition and a set of values behind this policy, on how prosperity should be reached,” said Jose Manuel González-Páramo, executive director of BBVA in Santander.

BBVA Research places Spain at 30th in the digitization ranking of 100 countries, an intermediate position behind nations such as Germany or France, but ahead of other southern European countries like Italy or Portugal. However, Spain “is much better prepared for the Fourth Industrial Revolution than it was for the previous ones,” says Rafael Doménech, head of Macroeconomic Analysis at BBVA Research.

Unlike other sectors in Turkey, banks are standing out because of the excellent progress of their financial indicators in the first part of 2017. One of the reasons is the measures taken by the Turkish Government to stimulate growth. However, there are also other reasons that are making Turkish banks the ones preferred by many investors. Garanti, owned 49.85% by BBVA, has particularly shined bright.

This is the message the G20 wanted to transmit at the end of the summit that took place last weekend in Hamburg, Germany. However, it does not seem that this actually reflects the tone among the heads of state. The main point of disagreement was around the U.S. position on climate change.  They agreed on issues related to opening markets, international trade and the stability of the financial system.

All eyes are already set on Hamburg, where, under Germany’s presidency, the G20 leaders will be meeting today and tomorrow to agree on a program to deliver on the goal set in this year’s slogan: “Shaping the interconnected world.”

Millennials are perhaps the most overanalyzed and overgeneralized generation in history, and the myths surrounding them are endless. From “clueless” to “brainiest” and “self-obsessed” to “socially conscious,” the stereotypes of those born between 1982 and 1995 are often contradictory and range from flattering to derogatory. But just like any other generation, Millennials are by no means homogenous.

Mario Draghi President of the European Central Bank

As the markets expected, at its June meeting the European Central Bank (ECB) closed the door on further interest-rate cuts and adopted a more neutral stance on risks, although maintaining caution. Despite the fact that the institution has not yet given signs of taking a step to exit the current monetary policy, the ECB Watch report published by BBVA Research suggests that in September it may announce a slowdown in asset purchases starting in 2018.

April 2017 Update. Tensions continued between North Korea and US over the nuclear test programme and the US increased its missile defence system in the area. The Chinese will continue to maintain the statuo quo while the tone of the US escalated but softened thereafter. In the Middle East, the advances of the coalition forces continue and the the ISIS situation deteriorates. The US decided to advance in Raqqa (the ISIS capital) supporting the YPG forces in the combats. Turkey has already protested the decision. Social unrest increased in some Latin American countries, while Asia remained calm. Uncertainties about the future of Europe decreased after Macron’s victory in French elections.

For more information, please visit BBVA Research’s website

Image of a conference at BBVA Foundation about values and climate change

Technological capital, human capital, regulatory capital and social capital… all are dimensions that the science of economics measures and includes in its analyses. Cultural capital is not a common concept in this science, however. But Timothy Besley, Professor at the London School of Economics (LSE) feels it is fundamental as a conditioning aspect of the economic activity of any organization, institution or country.

After the chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilian population, the US launched its first military strike against the Assad regime sending a clearer message to Syria and North Korea. However, it is still early to know whether this is a tactical message or part of a broader strategy. Europe and Asia kept with low conflict levels, while in North Africa, instability rose.

For more information, please visit BBVA Research’s website

The Chairman of the Spanish National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) has completed a round of meetings in the City of London to explain the measures adopted to facilitate the arrival of international firms to Spain. Also, the supervisory body of the Spanish financial markets recently announced four strategic lines for the next two years. The plan is aimed at yielding a more efficient, transparent, responsive and modern supervisor, a more attractive and appealing Spanish market, and better informed, educated and protected investors.

There has been an increasing focus on sustainable finance and on the impact of the climate change for the financial stability since 2015 year. Having said that, sustainable finance and the analysis of the consequences of climate change for the financial system are still in a very nascent stage and there is still a lot of work to be done. Two leading projects that are a step in the right direction are those of the Financial Stability Board (FSB) Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) Recommendations -at global level- and the creation of a European Expert Group on sustainable finance -in the EU.

After the positive surprise of growth in Q3 2016 (+2% y-o-y) and the developments that took place in the final months of the year, we expect GDP for 2016, which will be disclosed in May, to close at about 1.2%, finally pulling out of the stagnation of recent years, and leaving a positive momentum for 2017.

picture of productivity work labor market uruguay office resource bbva

After a years of steep deterioration, Uruguay has managed to partially recover some of the ground lost after a historic fall in productivity.  Despite this, a person working in Uruguay today reaches an average productivity slightly above 40% of the level they would achieve working in an advanced economy.  How is this possible?  What can be done?  This paper sets out a potential explanation and suggests a line of action for further progress.