Gluskin-Sheff’s bearish economist David Rosenberg took a page from the Book of Revelation today, when identifying the major risks to U.S. growth over the next year.
Here are what he calls the “Four Horsemen:”
The situation in Europe remains highly unstable, writes Rosenberg. And the violent market gyration to every “passing comment” by ECB boss Mario Draghi (Like this one last month: “The ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro”) ” says something about the manic mindset of today’s algorithm-dominated fast-money backdrop,” he said.
Speculation that the European Stability Mechanism (which isn’t even up and running yet) will be granted a banking licence and save the eurozone experiment is actually beyond the central bank’s purview, he wrote. In the final analysis it would be a political decision — which ain’t going to happen.
”Every German knows what happened in the 1930s and anyone with a keen sense of history knows that Germany is never going to vote for outright debt monetization. What one can reasonably expect at some point is a partial fragmentation of the nonsensical monetary union.”
2) Soaring food prices
More than half the counties (1,584) across 32 U.S. states have been deemed an agricultural disaster as American suffers through its worst drought in 50 years. As a massive global food producer, the U.S. plays a key role in influencing food prices. Corn is expected to top $10 a bushel, but the big question is whether rain will come in time to salvage the soybean crop — which has more far-reaching implications.
A failed soy harvest in the States could spur Asian countries to impose rice export bans like they did in the financial crisis. And as Rosenberg points out, one of the main reasons for the tensions that fuelled the Arab Spring was rampant food inflation.
3) Negative export shock
The eurozone’s recession is deepening and spreading, having an increasingly unfavorable impact on its neighboring economies and trading partners.
That’s why one of the most significant pieces of data last week was the drop in the ISM export orders index from 47.5 to 46.5 to the weakest level since the depths of the downturn in April 2009, Rosenberg says.
4) The proverbial fiscal cliff
More than 40% of companies in a recent Morgan Stanley poll said they were restraining spending now just in anticipation of America’s pending “fiscal cliff” — That’s the expiration of US$600-billion worth of tax cuts and spending programs in late 2012 to early 2013, which threatens to lop off around 3-5 percentage points of GDP if Washington doesn’t act.
“Recessionary pressures are building, and at a time when the pace of U.S. economic activity has precious little cushion.”