Friday, August 8, 2008

Europe’s Economic Outlook Doesn’t Appear Much Better Than U.S.

Euro buildingSeeing how the U.S. dollar, along with most other world currencies for that matter, has fallen against the Euro, one would think that the Euro Zone (countries of the European Union which use the Euro) was in great financial shape, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Spain and Ireland in particular are suffering mightily as they were unable to control the booms (see One Interest Rate, 13 Economies article), and now busts of their economies. The two stalwarts of the Euro Zone, France and Germany, have been holding the Euro up thus far, but now even their economies are starting to feel the heat. Oh, and don’t forget about the U.K.--even though they are not part of the Euro Zone, they are one of the largest economies in Europe and their outlook looks especially grim.

The German ZEW economic sentiment indicator has plunged to a record low, French business confidence has dropped, retail sales are down sharply and European companies are starting to default on their debt at alarming levels, according to Money Morning, an e-mail newsletter from MoneyWeek magazine. These are all obviously negative signs that point to the fact that the Euro Zone is heading in the wrong direction economically.

The U.K. isn’t doing all that great either. The U.K. had the same sort of run up in housing prices experienced in the U.S., only their down cycle is just beginning. Furthermore, their economy is driven by two key industries, construction and finance, both which are doing extremely poorly right now.

Even with the troubles being experienced in the U.S. the dollar could regain some ground against the Euro and British pound. While this might please travelers who are looking to visit Europe in the near future, there is a big concern to keep in mind with all this. When we talk about struggles in the U.S. and Europe, we are talking about the largest importing countries in the world. You can bet that if all these countries struggle at the same time, it will be felt across the world. We very well could be headed for a serious global recession of sorts, and investors certainly should be keeping that in mind.

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