CM appeared on Sky News to discuss the situation with our banks, the potential risks from the recommendations of the Hayne Royal Commission and the issue of mortgage stress.
As the 10% consumption tax rate kicks in from October 1 in Japan from the current 8%, it is worth reflecting on the sorry state of consumer confidence. We are back below 2014 levels. While the sales of Japanese rugby jerseys and huge consumption of beer by gaijin at the Rugby World Cup may provide a brief respite, the trend remains distinctly negative.
Note that consumption tax has been the biggest portion of government revenue since 2014 and is on track to be 37% of the total in 2019, followed by individuals and the lazy corporate sector. Japan’s small-medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of employment, comprising 70% of the labour force and 97% of all corporations. Yet 70% of SMEs pay no tax at all.
From an individual level, the top 0.7% of earners in Japan pay 30% of the tax bill, up from 20% in 1974. The bottom 50% have seen their tax contribution fall from 10% to around 2.8%. The top 8% pay around three-quarters of the total.
With Japan running a ¥100 trillion (US$1tn) national budget, the Ministry of Finance needs to sell ¥40 trillion (US$400bn) every year to plug the budget deficit. The hope is that the consumption tax will lower the dependence on having to debt finance to such extremes.
Tobacco companies fall foul of most ESG (environment/social/governance)/CSR (corporate social responsibility) measures. Good. Give that so much money is already loaded into corporations that focus on financial virtue signalling, tobacco companies remain forgotten. They look a great mean reversion trade.
British American Tobacco (BTI) is trading at $36 almost half the level of two years ago. Now at 1.02x book value and a 7.3% yield.
Philip Morris Int’l (PM) is at $72.60, down from $122.90 in 2017. A 6.4% dividend yield.
Imperial Brands (IMBBY) at $26.73 down from $55.55 in 2016. A 9.2% yield.
JT is less than half its 2016 number trading at $21.44. A 6.45% yield.
Philip Morris doesn’t have a vaping business but it appears with all these bans in NY etc that nicotine-addicted vapers will switch back to the old school.
Old habits die hard and cigarette smoking is pretty inelastic. Even in bonkers $40 a packet Australia, the ABS records men continued to be more likely than women to smoke daily (16.5% compared to 11.1%). Rates for both men and women have declined since 1995 when 27.3% of men and 20.3% of women smoked daily. However, these rates have remained similar since 2014-15 (16.9% for men and 12.1% for women). Therefore taxes haven’t killed off the habit.
So start underweighting the rubbish in your portfolio that has a penchant for banning plastic straws in the staff canteen to those corporates that allow yourself the opportunity to kill you!
Let’s not forget that governments aren’t going to terminate the monster taxes from this either, especially that so many national and state budgets around the world are looking seriously sick.
The RBA has cut rates to a record low 1.25%. The irony here is people and businesses invest because they see a cycle, not because interest rates are low. Lowering rates will do little to spur investment, especially as the global economy cools.
Post the Hayne Royal Commission, the banks will likely pass on the full amount which will only impact margins and weaken them given the high reliance on wholesale funding.
The other problem the RBA faces is that banks have become so reluctant to lend post the RC that the net impacts of the rate cut will be negated by the unwillingness to lend at levels we have seen in the past given the penalties associated with it.
CM still contends that the Aussie banks tread a perilous path given their leveraged balance sheets. CM thinks part nationalization or worse is a real prospect if the slowdown is severe enough. The equity buffers are tiny relative to the real estate portfolio. All contained in the above link.
The rate cut is unlikely to boost confidence other than loosen the noose around stretched borrowers’ necks.
Jo Nova has put together an excellent piece on the Labor government’s plan to buy carbon credits overseas to atone for our CO2 sins. Buying air we can’t breathe is essentially like paying someone else to quit smoking on our behalf. How do we benefit?!?
Labor leader Bill Shorten may argue that the cost of doing nothing on climate change is a “charlatan’s argument” but CM costed it yesterday. Our CO2 emissions are equivalent to 0.000016% of the global total. No matter what we do our impact is nothing. What does tokenism get us? Zero. Zip. Nada.
Jo Nova wrote,
“The 35 billion dollars we will spend on these useless, fraud-prone certificates is $35 billion we are taking out of the Australian labor market, or not spending on medicine, books or holidays in Bali. Angus Taylor, Minister for Energy, has noticed that this means $10b less tax will be paid too, which means less money for hospitals and schools.
There’s nothing wrong with payments to foreigners for real goods and services. But carbon credits buy us 0.0001C of theoretical cooling we don’t need and won’t be able to measure 100 years from now. It’s the dumbest deal Australia has ever made. Fraudsters and bankers will love it.”
Carbon credit markets have had a sketchy past. Hackers broke into poorly protected government and corporate carbon registries and swindled €3.7mn. So the credits we might buy to virtue signal may end up being fraudulent.
Carbon trading is a complete scam. As Jo Nova added,
“Independent modelling suggests the 45% emissions target of the Labor party will cost at least $264bn and as high as $542bn by 2030. The Liberal Party will “only” waste $50 – $80b.”
All for absolutely nothing. When the economy tanks our politicians can brag about achieving lower emissions targets quicker because our climate policies will have accelerated the death of industry.
Parker Hannifin is a fantastic barometer to measure the health of global industrials. It is a leader in pneumatics, pumps, hoses, hydraulics, drives, valves, filters, separators, refrigeration, seals etc. It’s products find their way into almost every conceivable part of the manufacturing chain. Think of it as a massive hardware store for corporations. From Caterpillar earthmovers to automation in food factories. When Parker announces orders, we get a good window on how the state of the economy is doing. The Q3 numbers released today showed:
• Orders decreased 4% for total Parker
• Orders decreased 6% in the Diversified Industrial North America businesses
• Orders decreased 4% in the Diversified Industrial International businesses
• Orders increased 2% in the Aerospace Systems Segment on a rolling 12-month average basis
Because aerospace is such a long lead time business, orders can buck trends. Having said that, orders for North America and International were soft.
Forget that Parker beat on EPS print. It’s guidance is the same. The orders are a worry. Q4 hurdles look tough.
Several days before Enron went belly up, Goldman Sachs released a research report on the company titled, “As good as it gets“. Grandiose statements are often precursors to calamity.
When Barrons publishes articles with “The bull market has no expiration date” start running for the hills. Sounds like Barrons has channeled Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story who said, “to infinity and beyond.”
What happened to Greenspan’s “irrational exuberance“?
Remember his godlike status was such that markets would hang on his every word forcing him to eventually utter,
“I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant!”
Maybe Barrons forgot that Buzz also said, “this isn’t flying! It’s falling with style.” Unfortunately there will be no grace when this bubble pops.
Thanks to SM007 for the flag.