Europe's Storm Clouds Will Last a While
We all know that nothing good has happened there. Things get worse by the day. Austerity isn't working. The U.K. is joining Spain in giving us recessionary numbers. Germany is showing weakness. There's not enough firewall money and not enough structural change.
And here's the ridiculous thing about it: on given days it doesn't matter and on given days it does. It's becoming a little like, well, the weather.
Don't dismiss this thought. Last year the weather was so dangerous you didn't want to go outside. You had to stay indoors, it was hurricane on vs. hurricane off. By the way, I now, at last, hear people catch themselves when they say risk on-risk off because they recognize the silliness of hedge fund speak and how it doesn't fit the program and is more about something to say to sound smart than be smart.
Now, we don't know if hurricane season has passed or whether we are in the eye of the hurricane or whether, like Bob Dylan, a hard rain's gonna fall, or whether we have built up an infrastructure, everything from umbrellas to enclosed porches to windshield wipers and slickers. We don't know if we are in some sort of dry season punctuated by storms or whether the storms have lost their punch.
But we do know this: the weather will always be with us, but this year we seem prepared for it and that's all you can ask for whether it be 'canes or tornadoes or just plain old rain.
Of course, you can only write something like this on a day where Europe is benign because we know that the weather is going to stay bad there pretty much for years and years to come.
What we seemed to have been able to do in 2012 is either exploit the sunnier days or move operations that can be moved out of the bad weather and into the good weather.
On conference call after conference call I have heard companies move with alacrity to lessen exposure to Europe and to cut back in such a meaningful way that it tells me that even the financial firms that are most linked to the flooding and the storms are pretty much cordoned and protected. The important takeaway here is what Europe isn't. It is not a thermonuclear fallout cloud coming here, it is not an ebola virus that can't be stopped, like some sort of Captain Tripps from "The Stand," it is not some sort of ice age that is creeping across the ocean and it is not a group of suicide bombers ready to take out all of civilization.