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Capital Markets

Bond Outlook September 28th

Time for optimism on Europe? German firms have made breakthroughs in their struggle to achieve competitive labour costs. The French Government is fighting the Marseilles mutineers. We see hope.

Bond Outlook [by bridport & cie, September 28th 2005]

The time has come to be more optimistic about Europe, if only on the grounds that the blackest darkness is just before dawn. The political stalemate in Germany and indecision in Italy (epitomised by the Fazio farce) do indeed look like darkest night. However, there are encouraging signs that dawn is coming. One we mentioned a fortnight ago: Barroso's moves to reduce the weight and intrusiveness of the Brussels bureaucracy. Another is to be found in the firm moves by major German employers to reduce employment costs, going a long way towards the reforms the Government has proven so inept at achieving. In France, the jury is still out. Strikers and mutineers in Marseilles and the SNCM shipping company are now locked in a struggle with the French government over privatisation plans. Will this be another government cave-in or is this a sort of "Thatcher versus the miners" à la française? It looks like the latter.

 

The stock markets are certainly showing faith in Europe: gains this year of around 17% versus a flat performance in the USA.

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