US elections Just to follow up on yesterday’s two posts, exit polling data from Tuesday confirm what I was saying about disenchantment with the U.S. economy despite the positive headlines. 58% of those casting ballots said they were dissatisfied with or angry at the President. While the numbers against Congress […]
I am very interested in the intersection of private debt, financial fragility and economic growth because I believe this intersection is pivotal in understanding whether the secular forces which led to the Great Financial Crisis have been arrested. I want to use Ireland as a jumping off point here for […]
The big news in the markets today is the standoff in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian armed rebels and the Ukrainian military. This has European markets selling off. The potential for problems in eastern Ukraine is something we should have seen as a possibility given the motives in the Texas annexation I outlined as a comparative case. Given that analysis, I still believe the question now is more about how Ukraine responds in eastern Ukraine than how Russia, Europe, NATO, or the US respond. It looks like we will get a military response. And as such, the potential for dramatically increasing tension with Russia is high. The European periphery will be especially vulnerable because of this. In addition, Russia is already moving away from the West as a hedge. Thoughts below
In 2012, I started the subscriber newsletter out with Ten Surprises for 2012. The goal was to give Credit Writedowns Pro subscribers a list of things that investors only assigned one in three odds of occurring that I believed had a fifty percent or better chance of occurring. So if I was right, then I should get 5 out of ten predictions correct, while 3 to 4 out of ten should have been expected by investors. Last year, I graded myself at 7-3. Let’s see how I did this year.
The German-language media have been voicing concerns over the ECB’s low interest-rate policy and its effect on savings and investment in the euro zone. This makes sense given the state of the economy in Germany and Austria is significantly more robust than in the eurozone periphery. The German Bundesbank has already warned of overheated housing markets. Another warning on housing from Ireland crystallizes for me the risks with using monetary policy for reflation.
With Spain posting its first gains in GDP in over two years, every media outlet I have seen is trumpeting this as the end of the eurozone recession. I called it early, yes. However, one quarter’s GDP growth does not make recovery. Let’s look at how Europe’s periphery is actually doing.
In the past two weeks, a lot has happened in Europe. I would say the general tenor of the news flow has been downbeat. Nevertheless, I am mostly positive on Europe. I don’t see an imminent eurozone breakup, nor do I see a further dip into depression. Instead I see economic improvement and political will to keep Europe intact. In a few paragraphs below, I will explain why I remain upbeat despite the news flow.
One of the striking aspects of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing on Apple’s aggressive tax-avoidance strategies is the way the Senators bent over backwards to declare Apple love even as they poked and prodded at the tech giant’s various, um, devices. Being an icon of US tech prowess, even if the halo is slipping, will do that.
It seems that the markets are discounting many of the risks that have plagued Ireland’s economy in recent years. Ireland’s stock market has significantly outpaced the S&P500 in the last few months – ISEQ is up 20% over the past year.
Earlier in the week, ECB German board member Jörg Asmussen delivered a speech on the challenges of the economic crisis for countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The part which caught most people’s eyes was his commentary on Latvia and its use of austerity as an economic model for the euro zone. Latvia really is not the model though. I have covered this ground before. However, I would like to re-visit it due to some numbers coming out of Ireland, the country I believe is most similar to Latvia within the euro zone.
I am not going to say a whole lot here in this post because I have been writing non-stop about Europe of late. I just want to share the European links with you. I think what the links show is that the European paradigm is in transition from front-loaded austerity to back-loaded austerity. This is something I have remarked on at length in the past. What I would like to know is what impact this move is going to have on bond and stock prices.
Osborne has said in the past that his austerity approach is the right one and has pointed to a 2010 paper on government debt and growth by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff as evidence his approach is the right one. Given the recent furore over errors in the data used in that influential Reinhart-Rogoff paper, the British data and Osborne’s conclusions based on that data take on more significance internationally.