The eurozone is doing considerably better than Japan and comparisons between the two are spurious, a...
The eurozone is doing considerably better than Japan and comparisons between the two are spurious, according to Paul Casson, Continental European fund manager at SVM.
Casson said a number of commentators have attempted to draw parallels between the two regions, citing similarities in their respective economic outlook.
But differences in monetary policy, property prices and government attitudes to structural reform make the eurozone far better placed for recovery, he added.
'I think there are lots of good reasons Europe does not have the same problems as Japan,' Casson said. 'For a start, interest rates are 0% in Japan and 2% in Europe, so in terms of monetary policy, Europe has almost twice as much ammunition left even compared to the US.'
The 50 basis point rate cut from the European Central Bank (ECB) earlier this month will offset the strength of the euro and provide an environment in which companies are willing to invest, he added.
An early focus on stemming inflationary threats saw the ECB keep interest rates higher than they needed to be but more recently the bank has begun to realise some inflation is good, opening the way for further monetary easing, Casson noted.
'Countries like Ireland have seen inflation of more than 6% in the past few years, which has not done their economies any harm, so the ECB has come to a view that supports more rate cuts,' he said.
Europe has also avoided the property bubble that was so instrumental in the Japanese downturn, while eurozone insurance companies are solvent and the big banks have strong capital ratios, compared to Japan where bank failures have mounted in recent years, he added.
The eurozone growth and stability pact, which commits governments to annual budget deficits of less than 3% of GDP and balanced budgets over the medium term, means European growth is dependent on the private sector, unlike Japan, where the government has spent years attempting to counter a lack of private investment with a slew of public spending.
'European governments have only one other choice to get the private sector growing: they've got to make structural reform, make labour markets more flexible and to make the tax regime across Europe a more hospitable place to do business,' Casson said.
Clarke replacing Balkham
'Deep-dive analysis of client behaviour'
Ways to mitigate April’s increases
The best equity income funds examined