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FINANCE/ The US disasters covered over by the EU

Different reactions on the two sides of the Atlantic are affecting investors. PAOLO ANNONI comments on the worsening problems in the US and Europe and their effects.

(Infophoto) (Infophoto)

Since Monday, the markets seem to have taken yet another bet "against" the euro and Europe. After the Greek elections, which did not establish any stable majority, after the election of Hollande in France and after, why not, the administrative elections in Italy, the markets have hit the euro and Europe indiscriminately. The euro fell below the level of 1.30 against the dollar, the BTP-Bund spread reached levels not seen since January, while the Spanish and French spreads showed equally worrying trends.

There has been much talk about Europe, and in tones far from reassuring. From the Spanish banks to the French ones, passing from the deficit of the peripheral countries to the recent, emblematic, German problems, including the “incredible” relocation of industrial activities to other European countries, in search of more affordable costs of personnel (this is the case of Iveco, a part of the Fiat group, which is thinking of shifting production from Ulm, Germany to Madrid). After the Greek case, the obvious disagreements between member countries and the election results, Europe has stood out in its poor self-promotion. The race that Europe is losing does not seem to be a healthy competition where the winner is the best player, but rather the winner here is the one "who does the least badly".

The problem lies not only in China, struggling with, among other things, a real estate bubble that is nothing for the Spanish bubble to envy, and a decline in exports that threatens “social peace”. The European problems, or problems with the euro, which end up in the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal everyday cannot let the problems that the U.S. economy is going through sink into oblivion. The number of people in the United States receiving the SSDI, Social Security Disability Insurance, rose 22% from December 2007, with an increase of 1.6 million people; the percentage of people aged 25 to 64 years receiving disability benefits has risen from 4.5% in 2007 to 5.3% today. Of course, the fact that the increase coincides with the economic crisis is in no way random and the explanation is probably no different from the one detectable in very similar phenomena occurring, for example, in the Italian regions where the economy is most fragile. In April, more than 46 million Americans received help from the government for the purchase of food (food stamps), and the cost to the government on this front over the past four years has more than doubled to 75.7 billion dollars. No need to be respected macroeconomists or Nobel Prize winners to realize that these are not signs of iron-clad economic health.