I am feeling a little gloomy. I started this sovereign debt crisis looking on the bright side but now I have been got at. So many of our guests at CNBC are downbeat right now that the downdraft has been hard to dodge. Markets took time out from worrying about government debt at the end of last week to look at economic data, in the shape of the US employment report, but many investors tell us nothing has fundamentally changed and the sovereign debt threat is still out there.
While I would take issue with some of that sentiment – after all, the Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Greek and famously the Irish governments have made progress on deficit cutting plans in recent weeks – it does seem that debt has just been passed around the system for the past three years. Getting debt junkies to abstain could be a long game and might plunge us into a double dip recession in the meantime.
If we really are heading for another economic slump in Europe, and deflation takes hold, then other parts of the world will not escape the gloom. But some areas may fare better than others. Witness the relative out-performance of the Bric countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China, as Goldman Sachs named them).
A number of money managers are telling us that our assets could be much safer in emerging market government bonds than in historically more secure “safe havens”. But which ones? Goldman Sachs points us not only to the Brics but also to the “Next 11” or N-11 for short. Not a reference to this summer’s cricket but the next 11 emerging economies that GS thinks, after the Brics, have the potential to rival the G7 as a source of global demand. That means countries like Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico. Barlays Capital echoes some of these views, suggesting a move into emerging Asia sovereign debt.
But it warns that any downturn in the regional macro-economy or big moves in foreign exchange should prompt a rethink. So even that ray of light is not as bright as it seemed at first – sorry to add to the Monday morning gloom.
Anna Edwards co-anchors Capital Connection weekdays on CNBC.