The World Bank’s new “East Asia and Pacific Economic Update” forecasts that China’s GDP growth will only be 8.2% in 2012, which is a substantial come down for a nation that has grown at or near 10% a year for a decade. The report blames the usually suspects. A collapse of EU economies will hurt China’s export business. Monetary and bank regulation policies by the People’s Republic can do only so much to offset this. There are a few good byproducts of the slowdown. The first is that China’s insatiable appetite for commodities, which include oil, will lessen. That should cap any inflation in commodities prices, which has hurt weaker nations around the world. Another bit of good news is that the forecast is not lower. Many analysts believe that China will have a “hard landing” caused by a sharp decline in exports and a collapse of residential and commercial property values. There is barely a hint of that in the World Bank’s report.
Facebook IPO Mess
The Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) IPO mess has worsened considerably in just 24 hours. The federal government will examine why analysts at Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) lowered their financial forecasts for the social network just ahead of the IPO. The concern is that favored clients knew about the changes, but the broader investment world did not. Nasdaq claims that if it had known how badly its technical glitches would be, it would have suspended the IPO until there was full confidence shares could trade smoothly. There are also rumors that Facebook’s CFO David Ebersman decided at the last minute to increase the number of shares that would be offered by 25% without enough conversation with his entire team of bankers. Ebersman discussed his plans with lead underwriter Morgan Stanley. But the decision caught many large investors by surprise and caused them to wonder whether the market had enough of an appetite for all of the new shares. Based on how Facebook has traded since the IPO, the answer is no.
Fiat and Mazda
Fiat and Mazda will build a small convertible together. Fiat is the controlling shareholder of Chrysler. The deal is an example of how large car companies that face slow sales in Europe and slowing sales in China have started to band together to save costs. General Motors (NYSE: GM) and Peugeot plan to jointly operate production facilities in Europe. GM’s Opel division is bleeding money in the region. Peugeot is one of the most financially troubled European car companies. GM also has made in investment in Peugeot. And trouble is probably what binds Fiat and Mazda together. Fiat’s sales in Europe have collapsed. Mazda sales run well behind Japanese rivals Toyota (NYSE: TM), Honda (NYSE: HMC) and Nissan. Nissan already has a close alliance with Renault. Fiat and Mazda do not have the capacity to easily develop many new models on their own.
Getty Images for Sale
Private equity firm Hellman & Friedman, which owns Getty Images, has begun the process to sell the company it bought for $2.4 billion in 2008. It reckons using investment banks Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan (NYSE: JPM), it can get $4 billion. Getty has one of the world’s great inventories of photos, some of them artistic icons taken by photographers years ago. The company gets a ready stream of licensing revenue for use of its inventory. The Financial Times points out that there have already been a number of deals in the sector. That by itself may hurt interest and bring down the price that outside investors would pay.
Douglas A. McIntyre