Politeía Digest

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The Economist: Dithering in the dark

with 2 comments

Quantifying the effect of political uncertainty on the global economy

Europe teeters at the edge of an economic abyss, its fate in the hands of political leaders at odds over how to solve the continent’s twin debt and bank crises. America may be pushed over a “fiscal cliff” at the end of the year by political dysfunction. And even China, although unlikely to take a deep dive, is hostage to the will and ability of its government to stimulate growth. More than at any point in recent history, the global economy’s fate is tied to the capriciousness of policymakers. How much does such uncertainty cost?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that it costs a lot. Customers of Cisco Systems, the world’s biggest maker of internet gear, are taking longer to make decisions, according to John Chambers, the company’s boss. Their orders tend to be smaller than before, and to require more in-house approvals. They say they are planning to buy more stuff later this year, reported Mr Chambers recently, but “then in the very next breath they say it depends on what happens on a global and macro scale.”

In Europe firms must reckon not only with recession but also with the risk that their investments may be redenominated in a different currency or locked in by capital controls. Robert Bergqvist of SEB, a Swedish bank, says that several Swedish corporate customers have put investment projects on hold because they don’t know how the euro crisis will unfold.

If America falls over the “fiscal cliff”, it would suffer a fiscal squeeze of 5% of GDP, easily enough to push the economy into recession. Last summer, as America’s government came perilously close to exhausting its legal authority to borrow, Barack Obama and Republicans in Congress could not resolve their fiscal differences. Instead, they kicked the can down the road, agreeing on huge automatic spending cuts that would start on January 2nd, just as all of George Bush’s tax cuts are due to expire, along with a separate temporary payroll tax cut.

No deal to avoid this double whammy is likely before the November 6th election. So any firm that sells to the federal government is left in limbo. Mike Lawrie, head of Computer Sciences Corporation, a big technology-services firm, recently told investors: “I just don’t know what’s going to happen…None of us [knows].” The debt-ceiling showdown makes last summer’s weak economy weaker, said James Tisch, the boss of Loews Corporation, a conglomerate, last month. And “this fiscal cliff is the summer of ’11 but on steroids.” More in The Economist.


Written by Theophyle

June 19, 2012 at 8:52 am

2 Responses

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  1. Europa se clatina si noi vorbim vorbe de o luna de zile 😦


    June 19, 2012 at 9:13 am

    • salut mar,
      lumea se clatina si noi ne tragem la gioale. Meschin si macarbru!


      June 19, 2012 at 9:18 am

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