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Christine Lagarde, incoming president of the European Central Bank, isn’t afraid of a little conflict.
“Debate, dissent, arguments — all of that is necessary and is healthy,” Lagarde told my CNN Business colleague Richard Quest in an interview this weekend.
Lagarde, the former chief of the International Monetary Fund, steps into her new role on November 1. She’ll have plenty on her plate.
Her predecessor, Mario Draghi, has issued a clear warning: The central bank, which has pushed interest rates to historic lows and restarted its controversial bond-buying program, is reaching the limits of what it can do to stimulate the region’s slowing economy. It’s time, he argues, for governments to step up to the plate.
Meanwhile, disagreement within ECB ranks is growing. More hawkish members of the leadership team — reportedly as many as one third — objected to the bank’s decision earlier this month to print money indefinitely in order to buy financial assets. Last week, Sabine Lautenschläger, Germany’s representative on the central bank’s executive board and an opponent of the policy, unexpectedly resigned.
“It is good that there are different opinions,” Lagarde told Quest. “If it was unanimity, consensus, there would be none of that debate which is so necessary and productive.”
Lagarde, who served as France’s finance minister before moving to the IMF, acknowledged that there is “a lot of questioning going on at the moment” about the best path forward for central banks.
She said she sees it as her responsibility to “bring people together, and once the decision is made to actually live with it and speak to it.”
More: Lagarde also told Quest that she thinks impeachment proceedings against Trump “could very well create massive disruption” for the global economy.
“I respect what is going on, and I have no opinion and no view because I’m not an American,” she said. “But from an economic point of view … it could very well create massive disruption, and I think it would undermine the US leadership.”
The full interview airs on “Quest Means Business” on Wednesday.
Forever 21 files for bankruptcy
In the latest blow to the retail industry, Forever 21 said over the weekend that it had filed for bankruptcy.
The details: The teenage clothing emporium said in a statement that it was planning to overhaul its global business, closing some stores — reportedly nearly 200 — in the United States and exiting “most of its international locations in Asia and Europe.” It intends to continue to operate in Mexico and Latin America.
The ability to get out of leases and close stores at lower cost is a key advantage of the bankruptcy process for retailers, my CNN Business colleagues Nathaniel Meyersohn and Chris Isidore write.
Big picture: “Forever 21 is the latest retailer to run into trouble amid the ascendancy of online shopping that has cut foot traffic to malls and brick-and-mortar stores. High debt levels and rent costs have also burdened traditional retailers.”
So far this year, retailers in the United States have announced more than 8,200 store closings, according to Coresight Research. That already beats last year’s total of nearly 5,590. Payless and Gymboree both filed for bankruptcy for a second time, collectively closing nearly 3,000 stores.
AB InBev and Transsion score IPO wins
Monday brought two IPO victories in Asia — notable in the current environment, which has been rife with flops.
Shares of Budweiser APAC, the Asia unit of AB InBev (BUD), the world’s largest brewer, popped more than 4% above their IPO price on their market debut in Hong Kong. The IPO raised about $5 billion, which AB InBev (BUD) will use entirely to pay down debt.
Background: AB InBev had originally planned to raise $9.8 billion from the Hong Kong listing, which would have made it the biggest IPO of the year. It scrapped that plan in July before resurrecting a scaled-down version of the deal earlier this month.
That the IPO went off at all is a big win for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, which has been battered by the political crisis in the city and the ongoing US-China trade war.
Also celebrating: China’s new Nasdaq-style Star Market in Shanghai, which launched this summer. Shares of smartphone maker Transsion, which is dominating Africa with its Tecno brand, surged more than 60% on their first day of trading.
Two positive IPOs and encouraging manufacturing data weren’t enough to bolster Chinese stocks, however. Markets dipped as analysts warned that the country’s economy isn’t out of the woods yet, as concerns about trade tensions linger.
Global dealmaking is down 11%
So far this year, there’s been $2.8 trillion in worldwide M&A activity, according to new data from Refinitiv. And though that figure certainly sounds impressive, it’s actually disappointing — down 11% compared to the same period in 2018.
According to Refinitiv, it’s the slowest year-to-date period for dealmaking in two years, as concerns about global economic growth force executives to think twice about pulling the trigger.
Even private equity-backed buyouts are down, despite the prevalence of cheap borrowing. Global private equity-backed M&A activity is at $363.3 billion so far this year. That’s 3% lower than at this point in 2018.
The US Chicago Purchasing Managers’ Index arrives at 9:45 a.m. ET.
Coming tomorrow: Closely-watched data from the Institute for Supply Management will shine a light on the US manufacturing sector.