Weekly Update – November 14, 2011
It was another yo-yo week for the stock market as ongoing worries surrounding Europe’s debt crisis kept investors in suspense. The choppy period eventually ended with a rally on Friday as welcome news of a political shake-up in Greece and Italy boosted confidence that there will be further progress toward a solution.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has been replaced by former banker and European Central Bank Vice President Lucas Papademos[i], while Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who resigned on Friday, will likely be replaced by former EU Commissioner Mario Monti. The world will be watching as new leadership in both countries fight to implement reforms quickly and aggressively. Just Saturday, the Italian lower house of parliament approved a series of austerity measures demanded by Europe to shore up confidence in the country’s economy. It passed by a vote of 380 to 26.[ii]
Why should any of this matter to Investors? While Greece is only the 32nd largest economy in the world, Italy holds the 8th spot, and is the 3rd largest in Europe.[iii] If these two countries can get their acts together, other debt-laden countries in the region will have a model to follow. If they fail to create change, the consequences could be far-reaching. Europe as a whole makes up 25-30% of the global economy, and millions of American jobs depend on stability and growth there. To quote Jacob Kirkegaard of the Institute for International Economics: “Europe is by far our biggest trading partner. It’s where most of our exports go. It’s where we have most of our foreign direct investments. US multinational corporations are in Europe.” [iv]