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Mexico’s finance minister isn’t worried about a ‘plan B’ for NAFTA

FROM: CNBC / Natasha Turak / 25 de Enero de 2018

 

Mexico’s Finance Minister Jose Antonio Anaya appeared confident in the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), telling CNBC Wednesday that dialogue between the trade partners was ongoing.

“Our central scenario is that this will go to a good deal,” Anaya said while at the World Economic Forum at Davos. “We believe trade is good for all three nations, and that’s what we’re hoping for.”

Asked about a potential “plan B” if the U.S. chooses to terminate the deal, Anaya stuck to a positive note, avoiding any doomsday scenarios.

Anaya’s Davos appearance coincides with the sixth and penultimate round of NAFTA negotiations currently underway in Montreal, Canada.

The 24-year-old agreement is now in jeopardy unless Canada and Mexico satisfy U.S. demands for changes to the deal. President Donald Trump maligned NAFTA during his presidential campaign, claiming it hurt American jobs, and threatened to abandon it altogether if his administration’s needs are not met.

NAFTA, which eliminated tariffs across territory encompassing 450 million people, has been a lifeline for Mexican jobs. Asked about the likelihood of a U.S. pullout, Anaya was vague.

“It’s hard to say, but … What we can say about the NAFTA negotiations is that there’s dialogue and there’s a process,” he said. Anaya took up the ministerial position in late 2017, after two years at the helm of state-owned oil company Pemex.

He echoed Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who spoke to CNBC earlier in the week, expressing confidence in the agreement’s preservation.

“Let us work on plan A,” Anaya said. “Plan A is that NAFTA has been good for Mexico, good for the United States, and good for Canada. That’s the way we see it, and we’re going to continue to work on a new version that is also good for all of us.”

“We want to keep it as a trilateral deal, and we’ve always worked on that front,” the minister continued. “The dialogue is going on, and that’s what we should bet on.”

Since the deal’s signing in 1994, U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) into Mexico has increased from $15 billion to more than $100 billion, and regional trade has expanded from $290 billion to $1.1 trillion. Some 14 million American jobs depend on trade with Mexico and Canada, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Disagreements persist over the negative impact of the trade pact on the American economy. Washington D.C.-based think tank Public Citizen has reported the deal led to the loss of up to 1 million U.S. jobs and a $181 billion trade deficit with Mexico and Canada.

The bulk of U.S. jobs lost were in former manufacturing hubs like Michigan and Texas, states that went to Trump in the 2016 election.

 

 

FROM: CNBC / Natasha Turak / 25 de Enero de 2018

The Economic Yield Curve Is the One to Watch

From: Bloomberg / Joseph Carson / 21 de noviembre

 

The difference between the federal funds rate and economic growth is unusually wide, consistent with a positive outlook. The rapid flattening of the U.S. Treasury yield curve is raising concern about the economy’s prospects. That’s to be expected, since the slope of the curve has gained in importance as a forecasting tool due to its consistent and reliable track record. In short, a narrow curve is associated with a slowdown in growth.

The economic signal is even stronger when there is an outright curve inversion, which is when short-term yields exceed those on longer-dated Treasuries. We’re not there yet, but what has everyone up in arms is that at 63 basis points, the difference between two- and 10-year Treasury yields has collapsed from 128 basis points in January and is now the narrowest since 2007, just before the start of the last recession.

For some, changes in the Treasury yield curve are sufficient to warrant a change in the view on the future path of the economy. Right now, though, it’s not. It is important to balance the changes taking place in the financial market’s yield curve with the economy’s yield curve.
The economy’s yield curve is the spread between the federal funds rate and nominal gross domestic product. This relationship is most important since it’s the ability of the consumer and businesses to carry or afford the higher borrowing costs that could eventually impact economic growth.

Based on third-quarter data, the economy’s yield curve is close to 300 basis points, which is calculated by taking the 4.1 percent annualized rate of growth in nominal GDP less the quarterly average for the federal funds rate of 1.15 percent. The gap has expanded by 65 basis points from a year earlier. Even if the Federal Reserve, as expected, raises rates by 25 basis points at its December meeting the spread should widen based on estimates of 4.5 percent to 5 percent growth in nominal GDP.

In a historical perspective, the economy’s yield curve is unusually wide, consistent with a positive growth outlook. To be sure, the average spread during the 1990s growth cycle was 100 basis points and in the 2000s it was 200 basis points. Moreover, history also shows that a flat or an inverted spread between the federal funds rate and the growth in nominal GDP always precede an economic slowdown or recession.

In contrast, the traditional financial market yield curve, or the spread between the federal funds rate and the 10-year Treasury, stood at 110 basis points in the third quarter. It will likely end 2017 with the narrowest quarterly spread since the start of the last recession, sending the same signal as the two- to 10-year part of the curve.

It is quite possible that the narrowing of the traditional yield curve reflects technical factors more so than fundamental ones. The quantitative bond buying programs by the Fed and other central banks have no doubt produced an anchoring effect at the long-end of the bond market that was not present in prior cycles.

Also, changes in monetary policy often influence investor expectations on the outlook for growth and inflation. Given the current low-inflation environment, it could well be investors are betting that current path of monetary policy will dampen future inflation risks and possibly to lead to a reversal in short rates at some point down the road.

In all likelihood, the signaling effect from changes in the yield curve to the economy may not be as robust today and limited to the financial markets. The economy, meanwhile, will be supported by the wide and positive spread between the federal funds rate and nominal GDP growth, helping to support corporate profits and equities. The outlook for the fixed-income market is less sanguine because the positive growth environment will compel the Fed to continue to normalize monetary policy by boosting rates further.

 

From: Bloomberg / Joseph Carson / 21 de noviembre

 

Mexico Seeks New Home for Its Oil as Gulf Coast Turns to Canada

by Sheela Tobben and Amy Stillman

“Shipments of crude to the U.S. from Mexico fell to a new low last week, extending a trend that go back to when the Energy Information Administration began compiling preliminary weekly import data in June 2010.

Imports totaled 290,000 barrels a day in the week ended April 14, a 43 percent weekly drop that may have been triggered by weather-related closings at Mexico’s key export ports this month. But the shipments have been sinking for years. The 52-week average through April 14 was 561,000 barrels a day, down from about 630,000 a year earlier.

“The latest import levels are continuing a long trend,” Court Smith, director of research with shipbrokers MJLF & Associates, said by instant message from Stamford, Connecticut. “This is because of a combination of recent rise in refinery rates and historically declining production in Mexico.”

Production in Mexico has declined for 12 years in a row and this year will be less than 2 million barrels a day, the lowest level since 1980, according to Petroleos Mexicanos, the state producer, hurting sales of the benchmark Maya heavy crude.

“Pemex’s six refineries are also using more of the crude, lessening the need for exports. They processed 930,400 barrels a day in February, the most since June of last year, according to Mexico’s Energy Information Agency. The company expects to raise rates further to boost gasoline supply in the near term.

Refiners on the U.S. Gulf Coast, which are the primary users of Mexican crude, have been turning north for supplies, said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates, a Houston-based consulting company. Canadian imports averaged 3.16 million barrels a day over the 52 weeks through April 14, up from about 3.02 million a year earlier.

“Canadian crudes are making more headway into the U.S judging from the full pipes coming down from Canada,” Lipow said by phone Friday. “We do expect to see more heavy crude from Canada when projects like Suncor Energy Inc.’s Fort Hills mine come online toward end of the year.”

Mexico has increasingly turned to Europe and Asia to make up for the U.S. demand shortfall. While overall Mexican crude exports fell in the first half of April, sales to Spain have increased since February, according to estimates from vessel-tracking and U.S. bills of lading data compiled by Bloomberg oil-market specialist Bert Gilbert. Exports to India, South Korea, Japan and China also grew in February, Mexico customs data compiled by Bloomberg show.

“While U.S. Gulf refineries were in maintenance, heavy crude oil producers have had to send their shipments to other regions, such as Asia, where heavy crude has recently strengthened thanks to the OPEC cut,” said Ixchel Castro, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie in Mexico City. “Greater shipments of Maya to Asia allows Pemex to achieve better margins for its exports.”

Mexico crude imports may pick up as gasoline demand rises for summer and refinery maintenance ends, Castro said in an emailed response to questions.

“This is the season where we would normally expect more heavy crude imports for U.S. Gulf Coast coking plants,” she said.

Pemex didn’t respond to requests for comment.”

21 de abril de 2017 16:05 GMT-5 updated  22 de abril de 2017 6:00 GMT-5

Bloomberg