Institutions Paint Gloomy Picture For Remainder of Year

Terry Flanagan

Ongoing macroeconomic issues and the European debt crisis continue to weigh down any potential economic growth, according to a global asset manager.

“We forecast a continuing slow deterioration in the macroeconomic picture,” said Andreas Utermann, global chief investment officer at Allianz Global Investors. “The financial markets are pushing European policymakers to address the underlying causes of this economic malaise, which are excess debt and a lack of the full structural support of the European monetary union.”

The underlying issues in Europe are the result of the strategy taken three years ago to “kick the can down the road”, according to Allianz. Policymakers thought that impending growth would bail the region out, but that clearly has not paid off. “It was a good idea but it lacked certain facets which now need to be addressed,” said Utermann. “The real risk is will the European policymakers allow politicians to take the steps necessary to put the European monetary union on a sure footing.”

The institution believes there are potential solutions to the debt problems, though it remains to be seen how likely they are to occur. The European monetary union, it says, needs public support, something which it has not got much of as of late. While there also needs to be a resolution to the banking system with joint liability, with the European Union underwriting the banking system. The European Central Bank (ECB) also needs to be a proper lender of last resort, akin to the Federal Reserve in the U.S. or the Bank of England in the U.K., according to Allianz. As of now, the ECB cannot directly engage in buying government bonds on the open market, as statutes forbid that. Lastly, for the ultimate resolution of the eurozone crisis, Allianz says there needs to be a joint underwriting of excess debt.

“The market wants a quick fix, but there is no quick fix for this,” said Utermann.

European leaders are set to convene at a European Union summit later this week, where they will discuss possible solutions to the debt crisis. However, many observers doubt that leaders will agree on effective action.

Then there are the questions surrounding Greece, and whether or not the nation will eventually leave the EU.

“Policymakers are failing to provide Greece with the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Utermann. “European policymakers and the International Monetary Fund need to convince taxpayers it is worth it to spend taxpayer money to reduce the burden the Greek population has to bear.”

Paul Zemsky, chief investment officer at ING Investment Management, added: “Europe is involved in everything we do. There are still tremendous problems there. We assume there will be a mild recession in the eurozone, but don’t expect an exit of Greece.”

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