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Looking beyond the fake recovery

I have been taking a bit of a break as my trip to the Ontario’s Lake Country winds down.  It’s a beautiful place.  But, as Marshall Auerback and I were lamenting, it has become the Hamptons of Canada as everyone from Toronto is up here for the summer holidays.

But, it has been relaxing. Since I came here, I have had a chance to get away and re-charge. The news in the world economy has been getting a lot better during my hiatus.  Just this morning, data showed economic growth in Q2 in both Germany and France.

As far back as April, the data did point to a potential recovery in the US this summer. Here are two mid-June posts explaining how Paul Krugman, Richard Berner, and David Grenlaw saw this:

So, a lot more people are now saying recovery is at hand. Of course, it is not a done deal and I am still holding to Q4 or Q1.  But, I did want to remind you all how bearish people were just two months ago (and feel free to comment):

Now we should take this opportunity to look through the present data and onto the longer-term future. We might have a recovery so what? What does the situation look like over the medium or long term?

As I see it, any recovery now will be somewhat incomplete given high consumer debt levels and the associated weak consumer demand. Structural issue remain in the property markets and banks are systemically weak. Nevertheless, with recovery at hand or coming, here are a few posts that attempt to look beyond the immediate reflation trade.

Don’t underestimate the power of printing money – or government stimulus.  We have seen a herculean effort to stave off depression and this has clearly had a great impact across the global economy.  But, stimulus does not solve the problem of structural weakness.  The excess consumption in the U.S., the savings glut in Asia, the huge debt and leverage in Anglo-Saxon countries and the weak banking systems in America and Europe must be addressed during any recovery or…

To be continued…

About 

Edward Harrison is the founder of Credit Writedowns and a former career diplomat, investment banker and technology executive with over twenty years of business experience. He is also a regular economic and financial commentator on BBC World News, CNBC Television, Business News Network, CBC, Fox Television and RT Television. He speaks six languages and reads another five, skills he uses to provide a more global perspective. Edward holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA in Economics from Dartmouth College. Edward also writes a premium financial newsletter. Sign up here for a free trial.

2 Comments

  1. bob_in_ma says:

    I generally agree. Although most of the people who see recovery at hand acknowledge that debt levels will pose a problem, they seem to sidestep the question of just how this problem will be resolved.

    This to me is the crux: real retail sales and industrial production have both fallen to the levels of 1999, and even with the stimulus rebates and payments, personal income has fallen YoY for the first time on record.

    But in 1998, private nonfinancial debt was less than 140% of GDP, at the end of 2008 it was more than 190% of GDP.

    The positive effects of the end of inventory draw downs, the cash-for-clunkers payouts, etc., are all well and good, but it’s hard to see how they solve the problem of deleveraging.

    For that matter, it’s hard to see how the debt problem is addressed meaningfully by your Q4/Q1 forecast.

  2. kbob says:

    Great article. Please keep up the great writings. We enjoy it greatly.
    The recovery is indeed bogus. As Marc Faber put it, a recession/crisis is meant to clean the system, but to date, nothing has been cleaned. Artificial stimulants can postpone the crisis to a later date but it will only be that much bigger and more violent. Too bad “experts” these days cannot see beyond what first meets the eye