It just might be time to book that vacation in Paris you've been thinking about. That is one practical conclusion to draw from a remarkable set of shifts in global currencies that started in the second half of last year and has continued in the early trading days of 2015. The seemingly inexorable rise of the dollar versus the euro and most other currencies has broad implications for the global economy this year and beyond.
Swiss manufacturer ABB has said it will focus on reducing cost to offset economic uncertainty. In order to combat the sluggish global economy that has damaged sales for many providers of industrial equipment, ABB has focused on the bottom line. "In the short term, there are still a lot of questions around the pace of growth in Europe and the U.S. and the timing of the rebound in China," said Joe Hogan, chief executive officer of ABB.
These are difficult times for economists and company managers because the outlook for 2013 is highly dependent on how the fiscal cliff (the large government budget cuts and tax increases that take effect on January 1, 2013) impasse is resolved and secondarily on whether Europe continues to recover from the recession resulting from its fiscal and financial crisis.
Schadenfreude is the act of deriving pleasure from observing the misfortunes of others. It helps to explain our enjoyment of tragedy, comedy and reality TV. It's also a convenient emotion to access when we read about economies that are in worse shape than ours. We would be well-advised, however, not to submit to the urge to feel superior to the slow-motion train wreck that is the European Union. What's happening in that dysfunctional coalition promises to have severe consequences for U.S. exporters.
One could imagine European bankers emitting a collective sigh of relief over the latest election results in Greece, whose citizens last week gave a narrow edge to the conservative New Democracy party. In the process, they ratified the controversial $220bn bailout plan that is intended to keep Greece in the eurozone and avert economic disaster throughout the European Union.