Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Boom Times Are Back - With a Twist

Recent months have been a vindication for people like me who believe that future economic prospects are far brighter outside the US. In the US, Japan and Europe there is little good economic news. However, in so-called Third World countries like China, Brazil, and India economic growth continues to power ahead.

In these countries, the financial system is not over-leveraged and dysfunctional, governments are not burdened under a growing mountain of debt, and consumers are not trying to rebuild battered balance sheets.

Look at the US - it is struggling to sell its IOUs (Treasuries) and this is forcing interest rates higher. In fact, the US will have to borrow $13 TRILLION this year alone. The US budget deficit is expected to surpass 13% of GDP, the highest level since World War II and the only enemy we're fighting seems to be the bankers on Wall Street.

Look at some of the emerging markets - the largest banks in the world are now in China,the largest consumer auto market in the world is now in China. Last month retail sales in China rose at a 15% rate. Oil imports into China rose sharply, helping to push global oil prices higher.

Brazil will soon be swimming in oil riches as it is being called the next Saudi Arabia. Of course, the US will be shut out from that oil after Wall Street refused to lend Brazil funds for the vastly expensive oil projects. Who stepped up and helped the Brazilians - why, China, of course!

While the US economy struggles this year, China's economy is expected to grow at 7%, India at 6%, and Brazil at 3%. Look at global stock markets over the past six months - the US roughly back to where it started the year, as is London, while Tokyo is up 7%. Meanwhile, China's Shanghai index is up 45%, India's Sensex index is up 44%, and Brazil's Bovespa index is up 38%.

Commodity markets have followed the emerging markets higher as demand for all sorts of commodities from these countries continues to be strong. Commodities enjoying strong gains this year include everything from oil to soybeans to copper to sugar to gold to coffee. Americans have to realize that when it comes to the prices of commodities such as oil, they are becoming more and more marginalized.

The US does remain the richest and most powerful nation on Earth. However, history teaches us that all great global powers eventually decline as they enter a period of slow growth as the nation become overburdened with debt and characterized by a devaluing currency. Is the US entering such a period?

No comments:

Post a Comment