Wednesday, 12. March 2014
10. 01. 13. - 16:00
2013 is set to be an interesting year.
China and the US are recovering, Europe is stabilising and Japan’s new government hopes to take control of the Japanese economy from the Bank of Japan, setting off what could be a new boom; at least in Japan and perhaps Asia and just maybe the world.
As 2012 closed Bank Austria argued that "economic stability was in sight" and that there was an "increasing number of positive signals we expect a more optimistic attitude in general for the start of 2013".
That is not to say that every issue has been resolved, as they clearly haven’t. Whilst 2012 saw growth it was only 0.5% GDP. Compared to countries like the UK, Austria can be pleased with this result with Bank Austria arguing that the economy should grow by a further 0.9%.
Failure to meet this target will provide the global market with a strong indication of how Austria has responded to the euro crisis.
Meanwhile the governments of the developed world have become well and truly addicted to the new unorthodox monetary policy of QE.
It is important to understand QE properly: it is not printing money. This is the key thing to hold in your mind.
QE takes out of fashion assets of a certain value, say a troubled banks debt, then props up the price and then defends the bank, whose debt has lost its credibility and thence value.
Imagine you are holding a credit card that is maxed out. You can’t get any cash to buy a ticket to go to work. You lose your job. You have to sell your house, which is a blow to local house prices.
Other people like you are in the same jam and also have to sell their houses and house prices collapse. Banks who lent you and the others the money now go bust as well, so they pull their loans. The economy melts down.
This is how crashes make depressions and how the story also goes with QE.
Your credit card is maxed out. You write a check to the government who says, that’s fine, here is our bond, take it to the bank and extend your credit card credit limit. You do.
You buy your ticket and get to work, get paid, make your mortgage payment. You get the picture.
Printing money is when the government make money with no liability attached. In QE the new money is designed and meant to be matched with new liabilities so on balance, assets still match liabilities, so there is new money but new liabilities to go alongside them.
In effect there is no new free money. This is meant to stop people running down the store and blowing the new money on goods and thereby driving up prices. So Quantitative Easing is really monetary buoyancy.
QE takes dodgy debt and makes it golden and thence saves the economy from a death spiral.
There is a way back from QE. Anti-QE will involve selling government back into the economy and draining the economy by swapping out free money for government debt. QE in reverse will drive up interest rates and slow a recovery, whilst shrinking inflation through what amounts to real economic austerity.
When the good times roll, the happy days of boom are curtailed by anti-QE in a period of monetary "pay back."
This of course will never happen.
Can anyone see politicians cutting a boom off at the knees after more than five years of recession?
This is as likely as Santa Claus being a real person.
So when the recovery begins, as I believe it has, expect for at least a time, more QE because like any giant thin, QE simply can’t be turned around that quickly, let alone stopped. Governments all around the world will be saddled with huge debts, unserviceable at higher interest rates and won’t be able to afford to push rates up.
This will leave them with the option to let the good times roll and get re-elected while suffering the risk of inflation, or execute anti-QE and get chucked out of power by snuffing out the recovery to get the economy back onto a sound fiscal footing.
So the good times will roll and inflation will be vigorous, strong enough to erode all the sovereign debts down to sustainable levels.
Inflation will run growing nominal GDP until the debt/GDP of the country is back under 60%.
This process might not take too long, three or more years. An inflationary recovery will end the great recession.
It is great news for some and bad news for many, offering great opportunities to those on the look-out for opportunities as the story unfolds and present significant risks for those getting on with their lives without taking close care of their finances.
If we have started the recovery as the market suggests we have then 2013 and 2014 could be massive years for equities. If the west lets it rip economically over the coming period, equities will be a good place to hide in the ensuing inflationary outcome.
Anyone sceptical of the recover should take a look at Greek shares since June 2012 on www.advfn.com. They will see how fast markets bounce back when then worst is over. For investors this is the key lesson to take forwards into 2013, recoveries can be just as shocking as crashes.
Amy Winehouse exhibition in Vienna
Personal items belonging to late musician Amy Winehouse will be going on show in Vienna this week, as part of an exhibition designed in collaboration with her brother Alex Winehouse.
Task force recommends wind-down vehicle for Hypo
The task force assigned to find the best way to deal with ailing bank Hypo Alpe Adria has recommended that the government initiate a wind-down vehicle rather than creating the state "bad bank" preferred by Finance Minister Michael Spindelegger (OeVP).
American youth orchestras play free concerts in Austria
A free concert from an American youth orchestra is taking place in the Mozarteum in Salzburg this Friday 28 March.
Formal negotiations on Telekom Austria yet to begin
The state holding company that owns shares in Telekom Austria has said that negotiations over the pooling of its shares with telecoms company America Movil have not entered formal stages.
Victorias Secret could open soon in Vienna
A job posting on the website of the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat has fuelled rumours that Austria might be getting it's very first Victoria's Secret store.
Fashion students graduate with style
Last Saturday the fashion students from Viennaís A-College held a fashion show for their graduating class at the MGC Modecenter.
English graffiti artists arrested in Austria
Austrian police say they have caught an internationally active graffiti artist from the UK together with three pals who now face up to 5 years in jail and a bill for thousands for the clean up work.
Irish banker in Austria with two wives
An Irish banker who worked for the World Bank in Vienna is being investigated by Austrian police after he was found to have two wives and children with both when he died suddenly, apparently of a natural death.
'Carnival of Languages' in Vienna
A "Carnival of Languages" is being put on in Vienna in March to celebrate the third birthday of the language centre Eton Institute in the city.
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