Ok, this post has a light tone; as much as one can observe the economy this way.
First about the European debt crisis: Portugal and Spain are coming into the spotlight. Most probably will be the next ones to seek IMF/EFSF support. That’s if the ECB or somebody else comes to aid. They will do so if there’s significant confidence over their policies; the jury is still out on that. That apart, everything looks like the Greek story all over again; one year later. The only difference is that while Portugal’s and Greece’s problems have the same culprit in their public sector, Spain’s problems come from the banking sector. If the same story is repeated, it should go like this: once government liquidity dries out the macro funds will attack driving up spreads. Why? Just think of Bud Fox asking Gordon Gekko why he had to break apart his father’s company:
Bud Fox: Why do you need to wreck this company?
Gordon Gekko: Because it’s WRECKABLE, all right?
Simple. Hopefully something good will come out of all this in a more coordinated EU economic policy.
Now coming to the US recovery: after all the drama about the double dip recession the economy seems to recover. Unemployment and real estate prices apart, the stockmarket and corporate profits are doing well, very well indeed. We are at the point that companies disappoint even when they hit the higher profitability in a decade as was the case with Ford recently. “Buy the rumors and sell the news” at its best. It seems that the FED has averted a prolonged crisis. However, I don’t think that quantitative easing will help reduce unemployment, at least not directly, as it used to happen in the past when lower rates could spur labor intensive investment. Times have changed and in a global economy unemployment is more of a structural problem that has to be dealt from market participants (in the absence of government interference). On the positive side though, I believe that FED’s strategy is rather forcing investors to flee risk free assets and invest in equities in order to counter future inflationary pressures. This will improve consumer feeling because of their inflated nests and also remedy the banking sector’s maladies by inflating real estate prices to catch up with historical costs.
Going back to the crisis though, what would Gordon say about where we are standing now?
Bud Fox: How much is enough?
Gordon Gekko: It’s not a question of enough, pal. It’s a zero sum game, somebody wins, somebody loses. Money itself isn’t lost or made, it’s simply transferred from one perception to another.
In other words: money was not lost; just transferred. Now has to go back to work. Won’t be surprised to see the Dow hit 2007-2008 levels by the end of the year. Sad to see the unemployment persist though and not being tackled. It seems as a social issue rather an economic one anymore.
P.S. Talking about Gordon Gekko my thoughts and wishes go to Michael Douglas. Wish him well. Great actor.