The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Chest Pains…?

02/06/2010

Some analysts worry about a double-dip recession. While I am not worried about that, I do worry the economy will suffer a “heart attack”, which usually comes from the world of finance. For the last 10 days, the world markets have worried about sovereign debt. This is definitely a chest pain and should not be ignored. The problem started with the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain) and should be contained within Europe. However, we remember the “Asian Contagion” a decade ago, when a regional problem spread throughout the world. That could definitely happen again, starting in Europe.

But, there is a difference. Asian had no European Union, to backstop individual countries. This 11-year-old Union of 16 nations cannot allow one of their own to default on its debt. So, when do chest pains stop and a heart attack begins? If the European Union does not help their sick members, I will be selling stocks. It is not imminent as Greece has two bond issues this month. If they sell easily, there may be little for the EU to do. If not, it will be time for the Union to step up to the plate. If they don’t, there goes the Union, and there goes the Euro! They have no choice.

Saying the financial sector is unhealthy is like saying your heart is bad. As Bob Doll, who is Chief Investment Officer of massive BlackRock, said yesterday “this is not the last credit problem we’ll hear about”. He’s right . . . unfortunately!

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