Most readers, I’m sure, are aware of how weak the eurozone has been over the past few years. That area has had essentially no economic growth at all for quite some time.
But now, eager to find any investment opportunity, some investors are looking at the eurozone as a value play, hoping for a turnaround and a possible acceleration in economic growth. These thoughts of investing in the eurozone, however, are based primarily on hope. As I said, there are no signs of economic growth emerging at all. But you don’t have to take my word for it…
Recently, the European Commission issued its forecasts and, well, the news wasn’t good.
According to the European Commission, real gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the eurozone on an annual basis this year will be -0.4%—meaning contraction. For 2014, estimates are for a mere 1.1% growth, and in 2015, that number only increases to 1.7%. (Source: “Autumn 2013 Economic Forecast,” European Commission, November 5, 2013.)
I’m sure this isn’t breaking news to my readers: another year, another weak level of poor economic growth in the eurozone.
What’s interesting, however, is how the European Commission calculated its estimates. According to the European Commission, economic growth in the region will be a result of “resuming private consumption growth and the rebound in gross fixed capital formation.” (Source: Ibid.)
Capital formation I can understand; money can easily move to areas that offer the best opportunity. However, expecting private consumption to drive growth in this region surprises me.
If you think America is having a tough time with unemployment, you obviously haven’t been to the eurozone … Read More
With the S&P 500 hovering around its all-time highs, I think it’s quite interesting to read some of the latest corporate earnings reports and get a sense of what’s really happening in the global economy.
One of the most international companies within the S&P 500 is Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE/CAT). The firm recently released its third-quarter 2013 corporate earnings report, in which the firm poured some cold water on expectations. Revenue during the quarter was down 18% year-over-year, and corporate earnings were down 44% year-over-year. (Source: Caterpillar Inc., October 23, 2013.)
That’s not even the worst part. The company also brought down guidance for both revenue and corporate earnings for the foreseeable future.
In its corporate earnings release, Caterpillar cites several issues that it’s worried about, including uncertainty regarding U.S. fiscal and monetary policy, the health of economic regions globally (including the eurozone and China), and a lack of demand from customers.
Because revenue and corporate earnings growth is questionable, the company is taking the only smart action it can—reducing its own cost base. Obviously, no company can force a customer to buy their product, but it can keep its operations as lean as possible. To that end, the firm has cut 13,000 jobs globally over the past year, reduced pay and incentives, and initiated the “implementation of general austerity measures across the company.”
Considering Caterpillar is a large firm within the S&P 500 and it has its fingers on the pulse of the global economy, do any of these comments give you hope or confidence that either the domestic or international economies are about to surge upward in growth? Not … Read More