A Mr. Richard Fader of Ft. Lee, New Jersey writes, “Enrico Hale, you are always bashing the dollar and America. If you love Europe and Japan so much, why don’t you marry them?” I take Mr. Fader’s point: while I don’t know of a way to marry a continent, or a collection of overpopulated volcanic islands, why don’t I invest in Europe or Japan? Why don’t I just move there? Why don’t I hold my assets in their currencies?
Believe me, I’ve thought about it. I lifted my boycott of France after the rejection by the French people of surrender monkey mentality, which was heralded by the election of Sarkozy (whom I would like to hereby nominate for US President).
London is a very cool city. England as a whole is quite civilized. There is some excellent scenery in France, and lord knows they know their way around a butter sauce and a bunch of fermented grapes. I have never been to Prague. The whole Scandinavian region is very attractive, especially Denmark.
Alas, it turns out that Europe is headed for the same problems we are experiencing. Of course, the euro and all other European currencies are fiat currencies. Europe is borrowing its butt off, just as we are. Europe has a housing / real estate / mortgage crisis as bad as ours, and in some areas, an even worse crisis, which I know is hard to conceive. I listened recently to this extremely disturbing and depressing Economist podcast which catalogs the woes Europe is experiencing, and which are about to explode. The collapse of Northern Rock was just an appetizer. The SocGen debacle was really unrelated to the core problems, but certainly doesn’t help matters. I look for the outright failure of some pretty big banks in Europe in the next six months. My top pick for the kickoff is Banco Santander, but I would give three to one odds that the next one to go is a Spanish bank.
So far, the European Central Bank has held firm against cutting its equivalent of the discount rate (and I would hereby like to nominate Jean-Claude Trichet for Chairman of the US Federal Reserve), but it is sadly, lamentably inevitable that the ECB will follow the Fed down to zero. The Bank of England has already commenced cutting.
I don’t have solid data at hand regarding M3 growth in Europe. I have been assured, however, by people who ought to know that, if anything, M3 growth in Europe exceeds that in the US. I am trying to track down some information on this.
I cannot bear to contemplate Japan right now. See Part Four to come.
By the way, the last word in the title of this post probably ought to be pronounced with a closing platial-dental africative, to properly signify the author’s sentiments about the state of the economy.