Overseas Headlines – October 20, 2017


Low pay, no bonus: U.S. retailers struggle with hiring

U.S. retailers are finding it increasingly difficult to hire employees for stores and for middle and higher management as low pay and a feeling of uncertainty clouds the industry following a spate of bankruptcies and store closures. Retailers including Macy’s Inc and J.C. Penney have said they will hire the same or fewer seasonal workers for the holidays this year than last, while some, like Wal-Mart Stores Inc, have chosen not to hire temporary workers at all. Sector observers have attributed this to brick-and-mortar retailers’ retreat under pressure from online players including Amazon, and firms themselves say they have simply taken a staggered approach to hiring this year that fills gaps slowly. Macy’s said holiday hiring was “off to a great start”. But staffing companies that hire employees for the industry say the problem is deeper and is putting pressure both on the quality of staff retailers can hire and, sooner or later, wages that potential candidates will demand.




ECB under pressure to soften crackdown on bad loans: sources

European Central Bank supervisors are having to rethink their proposals for dealing with the euro zone’s huge pile of legacy bad loans after complaints from Italy that it would hinder the country’s recovery, four senior central bank sources told Reuters. The ECB’s Single Supervisory Mechanism is due to come up with a new set of rules by March for how much money banks should set aside against their stock of bad loans, a thorny issue in Italy, where lenders are sitting on more than a quarter of the euro zone’s 865 billion euros ($1.0 trillion) unpaid loans. But the sources said the strong Italian backlash against the SSM’s latest proposals on how lenders should deal with new bad loans meant supervisors were having to reassess their approach to tackling already soured debts. “There is a serious risk that the SSM’s coming proposal will be too soft,” said one of the sources, all of whom are close to or on the ECB’s decision making body. The ECB declined to comment. The main worry for Italy is that its banks, if asked to set aside more money, will curb lending. Some may need to raise capital – a task that has eluded Monte dei Paschi di Siena and two regional lenders in recent months, triggering state interventions.



South America:

Brazil inflation reaches 3-mth high

Brazil’s inflation rate sped up to the fastest in three months in mid-October as cooking gas prices spiked, bolstering expectations that it has finally bottomed out after hitting 18-year lows. The reading should support the central bank’s plan to slow the pace of interest rate cuts next week as the economy emerges from the deepest recession in over 100 years, even though inflation still lags far behind the official target. Consumer prices as measured by the IPCA-15 index rose 2.71 percent in the 12 months through mid-October, data from government statistics agency IBGE showed on Friday, largely in line with the 2.70 percent median estimate in a Reuters poll of economists. A 5.7 percent jump in cooking gas prices accounted for most of the increase after state-controlled oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA repeatedly hiked prices following weather-related disruptions to global supply. Signs of steadying food prices, which fell at a slower pace than in previous months, would also suggest the rate of price hikes may be accelerating. A record harvest helped to pull down inflation from double digits early in 2016 at a faster pace than anticipated. Inflation has been hovering below the bottom-end of the official target range, of 4.5 percent plus or minus 1.5 percentage point, since July, with some economists betting it will undershoot the annual goal. Nevertheless, the central bank is widely expected to implement a smaller rate cut than in previous meetings, with expectations that it would reduce them by 75 basis points.