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Vectra Bank Expert Jeff Thredgold

Global ABCs

Written by Jeff Thredgold, President, Thredgold Economic Associates

January 17, 2012

This is the companion piece to Domestic ABCs of December 13, 2011.  In looking back to similar pieces six and 12 months ago, it’s amazing how little has changed

America—the concept of “decoupling” has drawn a lot of attention in recent months as the American economy has strengthened somewhat, while Europe, China, and India slow down
Banks (European)—one of the major incentives for German and French leadership to throw hundreds of billions of euros at Greece, Ireland, and Portugal?  German & French banks own massive amounts of bonds issued by the smaller nations
China—yes, the economy has slowed a bit, but 8.9% growth since last year’s fourth quarter is not exactly shabby.  Legit concerns about overheated real estate markets exist 

Dollar—many forecasters previously thought the euro would rise in prominence versus the dollar… not exactly.  The dollar will remain the global community’s primary currency for years to come

Europe—here’s thinkin’ the Germans and the French wish they had never heard of the “European integration” concept.  A recession is looming…if not already begun

Fed (the)—this nation’s central bank and many others continue to think up new ways to keep the global economy from falling on its face…not an easy task

Germany—wants smaller euro nations to get serious about deficit reduction before it hands over many more billions of euros as “loans.”  Chancellor Merkel doesn’t want to play this costly game again anytime soon    

Hunger—a child starves to death every six seconds somewhere in the world.  Can’t we work together to stop this travesty?

Inflation—higher oil and food prices have hurt hundreds of millions of people around the globe, while most global Interest rates remain at historic lows

Japan—very sluggish economic growth (at best) over the past 20 years, after powerful performance in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.  Tens of millions of Japanese citizens wonder, “What Happened?” 

Korea (North)—massive failure of this centrally planned economy leads to frequent “saber rattling.”  Will new leadership help at all?  Meanwhile, the South Korean economy continues to prosper

Latin & South America—growth prospects from mild to solid, with Brazil leading the way.  Excessive government bureaucracy and corruption in the region limits gains

Mexico—even as drug cartel violence dominates the headlines, economic growth has been the best in 10 years.  Greater employment opportunities at home are most welcome

Neighbor to the North—Canadian economic growth has slowed in recent months after solid gains during 2010.  By many measures this nation outperforms its southern neighbor
Oil—major advances in exploration and production technology should help keep prices under control over the longer-term horizon.  At the same time, what happens in Northern Africa and the Middle East still counts big-time

Politics—a number of nations have moved to the “right” in recent elections, with an eye toward reversing some of the massive government expansion of prior years.  The U.S. this year?

Quagmires—as before, there never seems to be a shortage.  Today’s list includes Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, the Sudan, and Syria

Russia—want to “do business” in Russia?  The payment of bribes to get most anything done is commonplace

Socialism—Margaret Thatcher said it best…and it applies to Europe!...“The trouble with Socialism   is that eventually you run out of other people’s money”

Travel—spending on global tourism remains solid, even as visitors largely avoid political “hot spots.”  Those visiting the U.S. are BIG spenders

U.S.A.—nearly three times the size of China’s $5.5 trillion annual economy…with one-fourth as many people.  In my book that says American workers are roughly 10-12 times more productive 

Volatility—pick any descriptor…economic…financial market…political
WWW—the World Wide Web continues to be both amazing…and cluttered with junk.  Still, estimates suggest we have tapped only 10%-20% of the Internet’s potential.  Global companies using it are expected to save in excess of $1 trillion in operating costs during the next three years

eXports—heaven forbid you gather a room full of economists!  The only thing we will largely agree on is that steps to build bridges to trade are positive…steps to build barriers to trade are not

Young People (around the world)—facing a rising tax burden in coming decades to finance the retirement years of Baby Boomers (and Boomers’ parents) if minor changes are not soon made

Zones (trading)—as before, Asian, European, and North American trade zones will dominate trade flows

Finance Expert Right Boarder