HOW US AND EUROPE MAY SPAN OUT FOR 2013
If you adjust for an economic cycle you would still end up with a structural deficit in the US of around about 7 percent, simply too much has been promised to too many. There is too much entitlement spending and very difficult decisions are to be made. On top of that, there are a lot of stimulus measures from the recent past, which seem to expire on the 1st January 2013 that is the cliff about which we will hear a lot.
If, Republicans and Democrats come together under the leadership of the newly re-elected president in the US and figure out a way to reverse the cliff it will be difficult. Extreme outcomes have gone over the cliff and driving it to the wall or even a gram bargain are possible here. This will probably go in January and will damage the US economy somewhat in the beginning of the year, diminishing growth prospects for next year by 1 percent.
Obama hasn’t proven himself to be the most business-friendly president. The question is whether it will change in the second term. So, there too we have a negative impact on the stock markets.
Euro crisisWe have to see the promise of the euro zone crisis more decisively addressed, starting to emerge more prominently, the question is ofcourse on Europe, we still have two hurdles to take. We have still not factored Greece.
We need to see more debt forgiveness; official creditors are now taking a hit. We need to see the situation surrounding Spain, probably also Italy, resolved where these countries basically sign up Memorandum of Understanding(MoU)to accept ECB support funds which is a bailout in all but name.
The ECB is not the Fed. Fed has more or less promised investors to bet on the equity markets because it will just keep printing money to pump these equity markets. That’s not what the ECB wants; they will do whatever it takes. When we look at the euro zone we see two key problems from the past. The first one is that in the euro zone a monetary union has been built without a matching political and fiscal union.
Secondly, the ECB for the longest time decided to set itself apart and not act as a true level of last resort, not buy its own bonds like other major central banks were doing. Independent of whether you think that’s a good policy or not, we aren’t doing it was ofcourse hurting them. Now these two issues have been addressed.
We have seen at the halfway point of this year Mr Van Rompuy, President in the euro zone say that there is a road to fiscal and banking union underway and all the core countries and the peripheral countries agreed with him. And ofcourse, in July the ECB said, they will do whatever it takes and in September they followed that with the outright monetary transactions plan being put into place. So, we see that the confidence has tipped favourably, but we still have Spain and Italy to signup and with that comes conditionality which is the current battle. Nothing ever goes easy in the euro zone. Always two steps forward, one step back.
You pull the Greeks out and let them leave the speculation, it will start and the whole bath tub starts to empty itself, so it’s a drain. Its not that Greece is so important by itself, it is the fact that if you show the euro zone that the euro is a reversible project, the speculation will start other and countries will follow suite when the speculation starts to become a self fulfilling prophecy.
Equity markets are to be avoided in the little time that is left here. A lot of money has been put to work this year, to an extent it was successful. People are now cashing on it. People have too many uncertainties here to really bet big on equity. So this is both from the euro zone, but the pressure is currently building towards more lasting solutions to be further put in place.
The implementation of Spain to be strong-armed into a bailout and there is the fiscal cliff, which will drag into the next year and therefore damage growth and will also draw heavily on sentiment. So that means you have some safe-havens there and this is always a little bit perverse when things are tough in the US. US treasuries typically tend to benefit so that is something to look forward there as well.