The lead story for the Good Morning America news this morning is the huge sell off on the markets round the world. They all seem so surprised as did the CNBC talking heads yesterday. We look at this and wonder why they are so surprised. Everybody has suddenly realized that there are other concerns in this global economy besides the U.S. debt limit debacle. I think most of those people have a very short term memory, a very limited attention span, and a very effective set of blinders restricting their vision to one thing at a time. One of the reporters just made my point for me--there was nothing new to really drive the selling. We have known about the European sovereign debt problem. For those of us with a longer memory the term PIIGS once stood for Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain. All of this has been on the horizon for the last three years (or possibly longer.) Another commented that the notion going around that the U.S. is headed for either a double dip recession or an new recession leaves a lot of people wondering when the original recession ended. That is the beauty of statistic--the numbers can obscure as much (or more) than they reveal.
I read this Guardian article yesterday but didn't link to it then. Greek banks have experienced a 'silent' run. No long lines of desperate people struggling to get in and demand their deposits in cash. Instead just an increasing number of desperate individuals withdrawing their money hoping to find a safe place for it somewhere, anywhere. I was reminded of it this morning during the news segment I discussed above. One of the investors interviewed said he was withdrawing from the bond and stock markets, and putting his cash in the bank. At least it would be insured and he would get a minimal couple of percent interest for it. My thought--hope he isn't depending of the FDIC which depends on the 'full faith and credit of the United States.' Depending on how much a depositor has the full amount may not be covered. And if we have a serious depression will the government have either the wherewithal or the will to meet that commitment?