The recent all-time highs for several U.S. equity indices are evidence that markets have finally managed to put the dreary politics of the last couple of years in the rear-view mirror and renew focus on the fundamental strengths of U.S. businesses. Hopefully the upcoming debate over the debt ceiling and the federal budget won’t overshadow an economy that’s increasingly building momentum.
The U.S. has several very positive factors fueling its economic recovery. Manufacturing is expanding, driven by relatively low energy costs, improved productivity, and innovation. Some firms, like tech giant Apple have announced that they’ll be expanding their on-shore manufacturing presence – somewhat reversing decades of outsourcing that pushed jobs to low-wage countries. The housing market, a bellwether of previous recoveries, is clearing in many areas of the country. Read more
With the United States stumbling a bit in this week’s announcement of fourth-quarter GDP, it might be an appropriate time to ask the question, is it Asia that’s leading this global recovery? Generally, I’d agree with an assertion that Asia, particularly China, is somewhat driving the global economic recovery. While U.S. GDP was set back by some one-off issues with defense spending, China saw quarter-on-quarter growth of around 2%, driven by up-ticks in industrial output and a boost in exports late in the year. The smaller Asian economies are also doing very well, but none swings the lead that China does.
When contemplating Asia, it’s important to remember that the economic story in Asia, and above all in China, was one of a real estate and infrastructure boom; that is, until two or three years ago. Read more
It used to be that Ireland had a bit of an image problem, perhaps not with the rest of the world, but with itself. Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw said, “I showed my appreciation of my native land in the usual Irish way by getting out of it as soon as I possibly could.” For much of the 19th century, following the Great Famine, socioeconomic conditions were such that a culture of emigration took hold in Ireland and its citizenry left in droves for England, the United States, Australia, and Canada. By some measures, this lasted right up into the 20th century, until the Celtic Tiger (a catchy name coined by a Morgan Stanley economist) economy sprang forth and Ireland’s prospects started to look positively dazzling. A number of factors including low corporate taxes, infrastructure upgrades, and education improvement drew businesses (particularly tech companies) to the Emerald Isle.
The new prosperity not only made things better for the average Irish citizen, but even started attracting immigrants from abroad. Incomes rose, unemployment fell…and then in 2001, this economic expansion started to reverse and it appeared that the Celtic Tiger had been declawed. After a bit of a rebound, the global financial crisis struck in 2008 and this cat appeared to have used one more of its nine lives.
However…after some time to lick its wounds, the Tiger is potentially gaining strength. Several factors are combining to make Ireland an attractive investment in my opinion. While Ireland still has a way to go in its recovery, there are several fundamental factors that point toward renewed prosperity.