The Absolute Return Letter, June 2015 By Niels Jensen To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies. So it is something in which no one believes and to which no one objects.” Margaret Thatcher Investment heavyweights challenge the consensus On a regular basis I challenge the consensus. It is part of my […]
It’s currently very trendy in Italy to blame Angela Merkel, Mario Monti, and austerity measures for the current recession. This column argues that while the severity of the downturn is clearly a cyclical phenomenon, the inability of the country to grow out of it is the legacy of more than a decade of a lack of reforms in credit, product and labour markets. This lack of reform has suffocated innovation and productivity growth, resulting in wage dynamics that are completely decoupled from labour productivity and demand conditions.
In recent months, we have seen a precipitous drop in Chinese trade growth. This comes from both the export and the import side. What’s happening? A large part of it is wages. As I indicated two years ago in a post on the Lewis Turning Point, China has already sucked a large portion of the labour out of its countryside villages. And that has buoyed wage growth. However, while the external account is deteriorating, import growth is shrinking along with export growth. So, it is not that the Chinese are buying more stuff from abroad and foreigners are buying less in China. It’s that demand is slowing globally, even in China. Here’s the problem domestically then: malinvestment and financial repression. This article explains why.
Nouriel Roubini writes that the current “muddle through” approach to the eurozone (EZ) crisis is not a stable disequilibrium; rather, it is an unstable disequilibrium. Either the member states move from this disequilibrium toward a broader fiscal, economic and political union that resolves the fundamental problems of divergence (both economic, fiscal and in terms of competitiveness) within the union or the system will move first toward disorderly debt workouts and eventually even break-up, with weaker members departing. Over a five-year horizon, the odds of a break-up are at least one-third.
In January Steven Hansen observed that, through November, the trade deficit for manufactured goods in 2010 was the equivalent of 1.3 million workers earning the median manufacturing wage in the U.S.