The official starting point of the most recent US recession is December, 2007 and the ending was June, 2009. During roughly the same time period, Europe experienced a similar slow down. Japan was affected in like manner.
Japan was emerging from its slowdown when the tsunami struck early in 2011. Europe was recovering when the Greek-et-al credit crisis struck in 2010. Of those three major developed economic centers, the US recovery has been the most successful so far.
Now, it should be acknowledged that even in the US, economic activity is still relatively slow. Our housing market remains very anemic. And unemployment – although down from its peak – is still high by historic standards.
So – official recession or not – where are we and the rest of the developed world – in terms of economic health? Are we close to the end of our time of suffering or do we still have a long way to go?
Making economic and investment predictions over the last several years has been very difficult – to say the least. But here goes again:
Japan does seem to be climbing out of the abyss it fell into after the tsunami. In the US, housing seems to have bottomed and may be showing signs of incipient recovery. Unemployment (which is linked in some way to housing) does seem to be improving.
In Europe, however, the austerity measures – meant to deal with budget deficits – have made recovery more difficult. And the 27 member EU states have continuing challenges agreeing on solutions and their implementation. Europe is likely already entering another (perhaps) shallow recession. However, we do believe that the leadership of the EU is incentivized – in every respect – ultimately, to do the right thing and keep the Union from flying apart.
So, our conclusion is that the three engines of the developed world’s economies are moving toward recovery. And specifically, 2012 should be a relatively good year for US stocks and OK for housing and employment.