As you may know, when it comes to the economy, especially in Asia, I’m on the side of the economic optimists. I’m at the “they think it’s all over —it is now” end of the spectrum on the recession, especially in places like Australia. But not everyone that I speak with agrees with me and what some people are saying is quite compelling.
Autumn – or fall — in the northern hemisphere is traditionally the time when stock markets fall – like lead weights. Since 1929, September has always been the worst month for US stocks and let’s not forget what happened in September 2007. October isn’t much better historically either. Why the seasonal gloom? One reason is probably that it’s the month that companies start to admit that their full year profit forecasts aren’t looking too good.
Another reason is probably that as the days get shorter and the nights get bleaker investor sentiments turn to doomsday scenarios. Chatting with a few bankers it appears that recent improvements in earnings have largely been a result of cost cutting and de-leveraging rather than any genuine improvement in sales. This is one reason to be cautious.
Another reason is that large companies are still finding it difficult to get funding and without secure funding there is the possibility that they will fall over. And, of course, consumers and governments around the world are still debt laden, interest rates look like they will rise and unemployment isn’t looking too pretty in some regions either.
On balance I’m still optimistic that Asia is out of the recession and that the rest of the world will follow suit in due course. But then again: