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Vectra Bank Expert Jeff Thredgold

Springtime Update

Written by Jeff Thredgold, President, Thredgold Economic Associates

December 21, 2010

This is the companion piece to Domestic ABCs of November 23, 2010

Austerity—the painful focus on limiting or reducing government spending across southern Europe as European authorities, the IMF, and global financial markets demand various nations live within their means.  What a concept! 

Budget Deficits—unprecedented government spending around the world to offset financial chaos during the past 28 months led budget deficits in too many countries to astronomical levels.  Excessive government spending must be reduced…sooner rather than later

China—the world’s second largest economy continues to grow at a rapid rate.  Government efforts to keep inflation and excessive lending under control could see growth slow…from 120 miles per hour to around 90

Dollar—despite constant bad-mouthing about the U.S. dollar by critics around the globe, the greenback held its own during 2010…up versus the euro…down versus the yen…flat versus a weighted index 

Europe—the ‘more and more’ government moves of recent decades have come home to roost in Southern Europe.  Stronger euro nations now get to spend a fortune to hold Europe (and the euro) together.  See “A” above   

Financial System—the U.S. and global financial systems emerged from the Great Recession bruised and battered, but still largely viable.  Did we learn anything about minimizing the chance of a similar meltdown in the future?

Global Economy—reasonably solid growth led by Asia, the U.S., Brazil and Africa seems likely in 2011.  Europe will be sluggish (with the exception of a strong German economy)

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

India—the world’s largest democracy continues to record solid growth, tied in part to strong domestic demand.  A wish?  Rising exports

Japan—modest economic growth, although it pales versus the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s.  The “lost decade” of the ’90s could now be stretched to include the following decade as well

Korea (North)—massive failure of this centrally planned economy leads to frequent “saber rattling.”  Will new leadership (daddy’s boy) ever right this ship?

Latin & South America—most nations in the region will see growth prospects improve during 2011.  Problems with excessive red tape, bungling bureaucracy and corruption will limit gains
Mexico—the troubled tourism sector, damaged in a big way during the past two years, could see more of its future tied to successes…and failures…in the government’s critical struggle with drug cartels

Neighbor to the North—Canadian economic growth has slowed in recent months.  Unemployment is at a two-year low of 7.6%, although the growth pace of part-time jobs is outpacing full-time employment

Oil—massive oil discoveries around the globe and improving technology could help keep prices under control over the longer-term horizon.  However, we may flirt with $100 oil in the near-term

Politics—a number of major nations have moved to the “right” in recent elections, intent on undoing some of the major expansion of their governments in recent years

Quagmires—as before, there never seems to be a shortage.  Today’s list still includes Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iran, Iraq, the Sudan, and the Middle East

Russia—widespread corruption, crime and questions about whether Medvedev or Putin will be “minding the store” in coming years makes life oh-so-challenging

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 is expected to rise in 2011 versus the past few years.  Visitors to the U.S. are BIG spenders

U.S.A.—nearly three times the size of China’s $5 trillion annual economy…with one-fourth as many people.  In my book that says American workers are roughly 12 times more productive 

Volatility—pick any descriptor…financial market…economic…commodity price…political
WWW—the World Wide Web continues to be both amazing…and cluttered with junk.  Still, estimates suggest we have tapped only about 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

Zero Sum Game (which global trade is not)—any trade restrictions (protectionism) we impose on another nation are soon matched or exceeded by that nation.  The Congress must be very careful

Finance Expert Right Boarder