Global themes

  • Austerity everywhere keeps domestic demand in check and export channels muted
  • Non govt credit expansion pretty much stone cold dead in the US and Europe
  • Rising oil energy prices subduing global aggregate demand
  • US federal deficit just about enough to muddle through with modest GDP growth
  • Rest of world public deficits also insufficient to close output gaps, including China which has calmed down considerably
  • Zero rate policies/QE/etc. in the US, Japan, and Europe doing their thing to keep aggregate demand down and inflation low as monetary authorities continue to get that causation backwards
  • All good for stocks and shareholders, not good for most people trying to work for a living
  • Europe still in slow motion train wreck mode, with psi bond tax risk keeping investors at bay and ECB waiting for things to get bad enough before intervening

So still looking to me like a case of

‘Because we fear becoming the next Greece, we continue to turn ourselves into the next Japan’

The only way out at this point is a private sector credit expansion, which, in the US, traditionally comes from housing, but doesn’t seem to be happening this time. Past cycles have seen it come from the sub prime expansion phase, the .com/y2k boom, the S&L expansion phase, and the emerging market lending boom.

But this time we’re being more careful of ‘bubbles’ (just like Japan has done for the last two decades). So I don’t see much hope there.

Still watching for the euro bond tax idea to surface, which I see as the immediate possibility of systemic risk, but no real sign yet.