Capital Markets: Can ChatGPT predict share price performance?

It’s clear that the capital markets will continue to face significant headwinds, with many of the same pressures and external forces that have shaped the sector in recent years still in play.

Persistently high inflation remains a top concern. While it remains stubbornly elevated, there are encouraging signs that it may have peaked after a considerable effort from central banks to rein in spending.

Much of the supply chain disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has stabilised, but persistent geopolitical tensions and fragmentation, particularly between China and the United States, continue to pose a risk to economic and financial stability.

Adding to the complexity, the pandemic-induced global talent shortage is still acutely felt in multiple sectors, including certain areas of the capital markets.

Gaining momentum are several megatrends that have become entwined with the capital markets sector. These include the rapid technological evolution, the growing need for robust cybersecurity measures to protect against digital threats, and the ever-increasing demand for sustainable investment options.

Project Auckland panel: Simon Bridges, Viv Beck & Mark Thomas

Project Auckland panel: Simon Bridges, Viv Beck & Mark Thomas

NZ Herald’s Tim McCready leads Heart of the City CEO, Viv Beck, Auckland Chamber CEO, Simon Bridges and Committee for Auckland Director, Mark Thomas in a discussion on the pain points plaguing Auckland’s infrastructure.

Project Auckland: Lessons come flooding in from three Auckland councillors

Project Auckland: Cyclone and flood deluge brings ‘a wake-up call’

Project Auckland: Opportunity costs lie in flood and cyclone response


Project Auckland: Opportunity costs lie in flood and cyclone response

Project Auckland: International cities show how to soak up stormwater

Project Auckland: International cities show how to soak up stormwater

In 2015, China implemented a concept known as “sponge cities” in 16 urban areas to combat flooding caused by stormwater.

The initiative was in response to the devastating Beijing flood in 2012, which claimed 79 lives and prompted authorities to make sponge cities a nationwide policy.

The idea was promoted by Chinese landscape architect Yu Kongjian, who advocated for the integration of nature’s ability to absorb, store and filter water into city infrastructure to mitigate against runoff.

This approach involves using green infrastructure to allow water to follow its natural channels, with streams and creeks uncovered, parks and grasslands restored, and planting used to slow down the flow of water and enable natural absorption, infiltration and purification. This is in stark contrast to the conventional grey infrastructure solution that speeds up the flow of water using pipes and drains.

Qunli stormwater park, in the northern Chinese city of Harbin, is an example of the concept. The park collects, filters and stores stormwater, and has become a popular urban amenity for recreational use. Capable of retaining and filtering up to 500,000 cubic metres of stormwater, the park has solved the stormwater inundation issue for an area 10 times its size, spanning over three kilometres.

Auckland Council Panel: Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson, Josephine Bartley & Julie Fairey

I had the fun job last night of moderating a panel with Auckland’s Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson and Councillors Josephine Bartley and Julie Fairey for the Onehunga Business Association. It was a wide-ranging conversation covering the budget, flooding, transport, rates, congestion, bus cancellations… But a couple of things stood out to me:

1. These three Councillors, while covering the full political spectrum, have each other’s backs and want to support each other – this was evident right throughout the panel discussion.
2. The recent weather events had a significant impact on them. They knew the people who lost their lives and were open about how these deaths affected them.
3. My final question to the panel was to ask for something positive for the year ahead. It’s nice to remind ourselves that not everything is bleak all the time!
4. Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson does a fantastic ghost impersonation (hear it between 1.01 -1:23) 👻 👻

Listen via Onehunga FM’s ‘Too Much Talk’ podcast in the link below


Asian Financial Forum: Optimism in Hong Kong despite economic outlook (NZ Herald)

Asian Financial Forum: Optimism in Hong Kong despite economic outlook (NZ Herald)

While the economy faces a challenging year, China’s reopening is a source of cautious positivity

Despite the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) projected slowdown of growth this year to 2.7 per cent from 3.2 per cent in 2022 and its suggestion of an outlook fraught with uncertainty, the recent reopening of China resulted in an upbeat mood at the Asian Financial Forum (AFF) in Hong Kong this week.

The high-powered forum included keynote speeches from Helen Clark and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and brought together some 2000 delegates including politicians and policymakers, global financial and business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs from over 70 countries and regions. It was the first in-person gathering for the event after being held in a virtual format for the past two years.

Opening the Summit, Hong Kong’s chief executive John Lee acknowledged the global challenges but said the timing of the forum – just three days after resumption of quarantine-free travel to and from mainland China – provided a source of optimism.

Asian stocks traded higher following the resumption of quarantine-free travel and the end of China’s zero-Covid policy, and delegates shared this bullish view at the AFF.

When polled on expectations of the global economy in 2023, some 69 per cent said they were either optimistic or neutral. Just 31 per cent responded with a negative sentiment about the year ahead.

Chair of HSBC Holdings, Mark Tucker, said China’s reopening and the package of measures it is introducing to stabilise the weakened property market will be positive for both its own economy and the global economy more broadly, albeit with ongoing volatility and challenges associated with the escalation in Covid-19 cases.

“Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area are likely to be the immediate beneficiaries from the mainland reopening,” said Tucker, expecting a strong recovery to be seen from the second quarter.

Even more significantly, it could potentially be the stimulus on which the global outlook for which 2023 depends on.

Tucker was enthusiastic that Asia was resilient, and had prospects for a strong rebound later in the year.

“We have seen virtually all economies in the region now recovered from the output losses incurred during the pandemic to above 2019 levels,” he said.

He highlighted that India too had become a hugely attractive market within Asia, with a strong long-term outlook, supported by the demographic dividend provided by having over two-thirds of its population of working age, along with important reforms and rapid developments in the digital economy coupled with global supply chain shifts.

“This could be the basis for a 20-30 year runway for growth, as was the case for China in the 1990s,” he said. “The same is still true of Singapore and across many Asean markets more generally.”

In contrast, he said a recession is widely expected in the United Kingdom and the EU with challenges from high inflation driven in part by higher energy prices and the war in Ukraine. Both are contributing to a cost-of-living crisis and squeeze on real incomes.

“The US economy is proving more resilient than those in Europe, and I don’t expect a hard landing,” he said. “I expect any US recession to be much shallower than those in Europe.”

“All of this means I am more optimistic about the second half of 2023. I expect inflation to slowly come under control. The markets are hoping that rates peak in the first half of the year so that any recession is shallow, regionally limited and resolved quickly.”

Chair of Agricultural Bank of China – one of China’s ‘big four’ banks – Gu Shu, shared this encouraging position, telling the forum the US is now facing lighter inflationary pressure, and inflation in the eurozone is expected to peak later this year.

“The need to continue raising interest rates weakens,” he said. “We estimate that in 2023, the pace of interest rate hikes will slow down.

“However, with rising food prices and a shortage in labour supply, the high current interest rates and tight monetary policy is likely to continue for some time.”

Navigating the polycrisis

The forum included a focus on how countries and financial institutions can tackle the looming polycrisis – a term coined to describe the multiple interrelated economic, political, and ecological shocks upending the global economy.

Panellists stressed it will be essential to work closely together to navigate the polycrisis, especially due to the many global issues that will need closer cooperation among countries to solve including the food, energy and cost of living crises, supply chains, climate change and the ongoing pandemic.

Luxembourg’s Finance Minister Yuriko Backes told the forum that while Covid tested the limits of globalisation and exposed several weaknesses, particularly in supply chains, the wrong conclusion for countries to draw from the crisis would be that we need a general decoupling from other economies.

“There is a worrying wider trend toward deglobalisation and protectionism in Europe and also elsewhere, and it is therefore important that efforts to increase autonomy do not translate into widespread market and technology fragmentation.”

Protectionism risk

Backes said there is a risk Europe’s open strategic autonomy, China’s dual circulation strategy which also aims to increase self-reliance, or the ‘Buy America’ rules introduced in the US could lead to a collective decoupling of markets and increased protectionism.

In Asia, multilateralism is on the rise. The world’s largest free trade deaL the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) between Asia-Pacific nations including New Zealand, has just reached its first anniversary in force and continues to grow to reach its full potential.

But Antony Leung, group chair of Hong Kong conglomerate Nan Fung Group, said the elephant in the room is the ongoing rivalry between the United States and China, which brings with it trade protectionism and puts wider global cooperation at risk.

“As a result, we are seeing that the world may be facing ‘one world, two systems’ – one being the US-European system, and then the rest of the world,” he said.

-Tim McCready was a guest of the Asian Financial Forum

Infrastructure: Women are a powerhouse in New Zealand infrastructure (NZ Herald)

Infrastructure: Women are a powerhouse in New Zealand infrastructure (NZ Herald)

Tim McCready looks at three key trends influencing the infrastructure sector

Over the past couple of years, the pandemic has had a serious impact on the cost and timings of infrastructure.

While 2022 was hoped to be the year the world returned to some kind of normality, events over the past year — including the evolution of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine — have brought with them supply chain constraints, inflation, and ongoing uncertainty. But despite these headwinds, there remains a steadfast focus on growing the sustainability and equity of the sector.

Here is a look at some of the big topics that will continue to shape the sector over the coming years:

Inflation and rising risks amid uncertain times

Inflation has become the dominating story facing the infrastructure industry in 2022.

The rapid escalation of the cost of construction is being felt worldwide and is creating major challenges for project delivery.

This is being exacerbated by ongoing supply chain constraints. Initially caused by the pandemic, this has continued as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the continued snap lockdowns in China.

In its latest quarterly report, the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission Te Waihanga, cautions that if inflation continues to run hot and supply chains remain constrained, it will be challenging to deliver infrastructure rapidly without stretching our limited capacity to build.

But though inflation statistics suggest demand is still outrunning supply, there are emerging signs of a global economic slowdown.

China’s continued push for zero-Covid and the intermittent lockdowns that come with it, combined with its struggling real estate market, has resulted in a sharp drop in growth and the world’s reliance on China will ensure that slowdown is felt everywhere.

Last month the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its global growth forecast for 2023 to 2.7 per cent from a previous forecast of 2.9 per cent. In a recent update, the IMF said recent high-frequency indicators “confirm that the outlook is gloomier” than projected, particularly in Europe.

Reduced economic activity will see inflation lessen, but will likely bring with it an increase in unemployment and insolvency risk for construction firms.

As rising interest rates reduce the ability to borrow and see demand for residential building fall away, it will place the broader construction sector under pressure and shift the focus from managing cost increases and capacity pressures to managing workload and maintaining financial sustainability.

As Te Waihanga notes, if the global economy tips over into recession, falling demand from non-infrastructure construction may ease the capacity and skills pressures seen over the last year, and bring with it an opportunity to deliver more infrastructure.

Advancing women in infrastructure

Like all industries, increasing diversity and inclusiveness will be a necessity to address challenges the infrastructure sector is facing.

There has been good progress on this front over the past year. A growing number of businesses in the sector have established diversity targets.

This year Fletcher Building reported its intern cohort had a 50:50 split between men and women, and its graduate cohort was 40 per cent women.

Tonkin and Taylor has found purposefully and openly talking about unconscious bias at all levels of the organisation has been a great tool to create an environment that has zero tolerance for discrimination.
Chief executive Penny Kneebone, says momentum regarding diversity and inclusivity has picked up across the sector in the past year, noticeably via the diversity of voices in the sector sharing their thoughts, perspectives and experience.

“That is great, but it is important to keep up the good mahi and build on that momentum,” Kneebone says. She’d like to see stronger progress made regarding diversity and inclusion metrics across the sector.

“We can talk the talk, but diversity and inclusion metrics will help give the industry insights and indicators on where to take action to improve and ensure that we’re walking the walk.”

Infrastructure New Zealand, the industry’s member association, has several initiatives to help its members create and sustain a diverse and inclusive infrastructure sector.

The group is chaired by Margaret Devlin, elected to the position at the 2021 AGM, who has a particular focus on people, diversity and culture.

She is also chair of Auckland’s Watercare and Lyttelton Port and a director of DairyNZ, Hamilton Airport, IT Partners Group and Waimea Water.

Earlier this year, Infrastructure NZ established a diversity advisory board to help address key challenges facing the sector.

The Women’s Infrastructure Network, set up in 2016 to increase the number of women in leadership roles and grow the visibility of women, now has seven chapters throughout the country and a combined membership of more than 2100 women.

To further attract women to the sector, managing director of international engineering consultancy Aurecon, Tracey Ryan, says there is no single approach that will work.

“It must be a combination of leadership, policies/systems and behaviours, she says.

“We also need to get in front of school children to help break down barriers and normalise that anyone can have a career in the infrastructure industry.

“There are now more senior female leaders in the industry which has been great progress — we are still a small group, but we’re not just a couple anymore.

“It’s about ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’, so the more we support women into senior and leadership roles the better.”

Ryan is herself also co-chair of the Construction Sector Accord.

Sustainable infrastructure to the fore

The built environment is estimated to be responsible for almost 50 per cent of all extracted materials and contributes some 40 per cent of global energy-related emissions.

Emissions are made up of a combination of the energy used to run a building day-to-day as well as embodied carbon emissions — those tied into the construction, maintenance and ultimate demolition.

The focus of green building has largely been on making buildings more efficient to run, which can often come at the expense of embodied carbon emissions. But with the global transition to sustainable and net-zero infrastructure emissions solutions continuing at pace, attention is now turning to the environmental impact of construction.

The heightened awareness of the sector’s impact on the environment means it is becoming increasingly unacceptable for companies to fail to make progress in this regard.

Bolstering this push is the energy crisis in Europe. The invasion of Ukraine has spurred an effort from European countries to reduce the use of oil and gas in the region and improve the energy efficiency of infrastructure.

Last month, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released its annual World Energy Outlook report and noted that the invasion is likely to accelerate the world’s transition to greener energy from fossil fuels.

“Energy markets and policies have changed as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, not just for the time being, but for decades to come,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol.

“Governments around the world are responding to the crisis by doubling down on clean energy — in the US, EU, Japan, China, India and elsewhere. Their new policies are set to help global clean energy investment rise above US$2 trillion a year by 2030, an increase of over 50 per cent from today.”

Infrastructure is not only highly responsible for climate change and integral to its mitigation, but it is also highly exposed to its effects.

If the coalition of nations is to meet the Paris Agreement to decarbonise the global economy by 2050, current momentum seen in green infrastructure looks set to continue.

In a world where the geopolitical and economic environment look shaky, clean infrastructure will help to boost growth, create jobs and build energy security and resilience against the ongoing effects of climate change.

Onehunga FM video interview: Mayoral candidate Craig Lord