Lazard Capital Markets: US Stocks Plummet

It’s not good news on the market again.  Just last Friday, 7th October, stocked ended lower.  This impacted weekly gains, and resulted in caution and concern from stockbrokers.  According to Lazard Capital Markets product strategy head Art Hogan, it’s not all bad. “The good news is we again have not gone into a double-dip recession, the bad news is nobody seems to care right now with all of our focus on Greece.” Still, there is a long way until we’re out of the woods.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 20.21 points.  So much still needs to be done.

New York Real Estate On the Rise

Brokerage Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead Property LLC recently reported that New York real estate sales rose by 1 per cent, while the medium price sank 4 per cent to around $850,000.

Sofia Song, vice president of broker listing compiler StreetEasy.com, said “The market is bipolar. You have the luxury market driven by foreign demand, with foreigners finding Manhattan to be a relative bargain. On the other hand, you have entry-level demand with domestic buyers trying to take advantage of the record-low interest rates.”

China Catches the Eye of U.S. Executives

Investment firms and entrepreneurs throughout the U.S. have begun shifting focus to China. Jason Boyer, Brett McGonegal, Bradford Ainslie and Uwe Parpart, four former Cantor Fitzgerald managing directors, recently left the New York-based firm to join forces with Reorient Financial Markets Ltd., an asset manager under China’s Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.

In an interview, McGonegal said “it’s the marriage of a Chinese stated-owned enterprise with a government mandate combined with a Western distribution platform.”

 

China Introduces First Ever Property Taxes

In order to curb inflation and help bring down the cost of housing the Chinese government has instituted for the first time a property tax, which will go into effect this coming Friday, February 4th, 2011.

Curb Inflation

The tax will first be introduced into the key cities of Shanghai and Chongqing, and will only apply to the purchase of second homes. The reform comes in the wake of the recent startling growth of the Chinese economy, which posted an increase in GDP of 10.3% in 2010, its most robust growth since the beginning of the international financial crisis in 2008. The well-founded fear that along with such significant economic growth also comes inflation has stimulated Beijing to take this extraordinary step of instituting a property tax.

Overall prices have been rising, and the inflation rate for December, 2010 was close to 4.6%, a much higher figure than what the government was hoping to see. Since the cost of housing is one of the main driving forces of inflation, the government decided to take measures to help keep the cost of homes down.

Reduce Speculation

The hope is that the new property tax, which will be paid on a yearly basis and will cost between 0.4% and 1.2% of the purchase price, depending on how the home cost compares with market value, will reduce speculation on real estate.

The head of research at the China Real Estate Index System in Beijing, Ge Haifeng, explained that the property tax will have “a big psychological effect on potential home buyers. China’s housing market may get really quiet in coming months.”

The property tax in Shanghai will be between 0.4% and 0.6% on the purchase of second homes only. In Chongqing in southwest China the tax will have a wider range, from 0.5% to the maximum of 1.2%.

Mayor Hopeful

The mayor of Chongqing, Huang Qifan, is hopeful that the tax will have a positive effect on inflation and housing prices. He said however that the effects of the new tax might not be immediately felt, as he explained, “It is impossible for housing prices to fall overnight because of the property tax,” but, “it will help to curb speculation in the housing market.”

Some Dissension

Not everyone agrees that the institution of a property tax law is a positive move. A spokesman for the property development firm of Shui On Group stated that there is no “property bubble” now in China, and complained that the government restrictions on bank loans were causing financing to be more complex and difficult for the property development industry.

According to Michael Klibaner, the head of China research for Jones Lang LaSalle Property Company, the primary goal of the new tax is to prevent the amassing of properties, and not to control of prices.

“Previously there was very little holding cost for residential property because many people paid 100% cash for these properties. Now the holding cost is no longer zero,” Mr Klibaner said.

“When the holding cost is zero, it’s very easy to let these homes sit idle. It doesn’t cost you anything to let them sit there. Now there’s a holding cost – the hope is it will change the way people perceive real estate as an asset class.”

October: Largest Job Creation Month

Good news for an American economy that needs something positive.  According to the U.S. Labor Department, the American economy had the biggest job creation that it’s had in five months during October.  Economists were cautiously optimistic with this news.  As Carl Riccadonna, an economist at Deutsche Bank said, “This is not a gangbusters report, but it is very important. It shows us that the momentum in employment is building.”

In a White House statement, President Barack Obama said that the jobs report is “encouraging news” and he encouraged both Democrats and Republicans to propose more ways to boost the economy.

New Executive Appointments

waste-disposalVarious executive shuffles have been occurring in the corporate world in a variety of industries including cloud computing and waste disposal. These multinational firms are announcing key changes in their corporate staffing structure.

One example is the movement at Republic Services Inc., with its recent announcement of current President and COO Don Slager to become CEO following James O’Connor’s retirement at the beginning of next year. Prior to his role at the waste management firm, Slager was COO and Vice President of Allied Waste Industries.

In the world of cloud computing, EMC announced last month a new Chief Strategy Officer – Mark Lewis, along with a new President of its Information Intelligence Group – Rick Devenuti. Both new appointees will report to President and CEO of EMC Information Infrastructure Products, Pat Gelsinger.

In addition, Don Slager was appointed unanimously by the board of directors, following a “comprehensive succession planning process,” it conducted. He was also appointed a member of its Board of Directors.

 

The SFC and Seth Fischer: Hong Kong

For investors and asset management firms in Hong Kong, the activities of the country’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) is important.  Thus the recent announcement by the SFC on June 25, 2010 should be of note to individuals like He-Xin, Seth Fischer and the Scott Fitzgerald Group.  It will be applying the Codes on Takeovers and Mergers and Share Repurchases (Codes) to SFC-authorised real estate investment trusts (REITs).  Already, most of the proposals from the beginning of the year have been adopted.  According to CEO at SFC, Martin Wheatley, this marks a huge step in determining a regulatory framework to protect investors’ interests more.  It also facilitates the further development of Hong Kong’s REIT market.

The European Economic Impact on America

No economy exists in a bubble, and America is certainly not an exception to that rule.  The widening fiscal issues in Europe are threatening to have an impact on the economic recovery in America.  As Ruth Stroppiana, and economist in London, said about the situation in Europe, “It’ll take years of savage spending cuts, wage cuts and welfare-pension reform to eventually grow out of the debt situation.”

American businesses, which count on Europe as a major market, will certainly feel this downturn. During January and February of 2010, U.S. companies exported $36.5 billion of products to the EU nations.  Should the economy continue on its downward spiral there, it will certainly have an impact on exports and on the world economy.  Read more about these issues and their impact on the American economy.

Financial Crisis was the Perfect Storm, Say Wall Street Bankers

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0XIF84AtYg&w=420&h=315]

In this video, Wall Street bankers who were testifying before Congress explained how the recent financial collapse was the perfect storm. Hear Dylan Ratigan and Eliott Spitzer, among others, discuss the recent financial crisis and what should be done about it.