Sunday 20 June 2010

Soros thinks markets still overpriced

June 11: Multi-billionaire George Soros gives his views on the present systemic crisis. He argues that since complete catastrophe was averted by government action in 2008, free-market discipline (failure and bankruptcy) no longer applies and must be replaced by official regulation and management - or the "superbubble" will eventually burst. I give below some extracts, but the piece is worth reading in its entirety.

... life support consisted of substituting sovereign credit for the credit of financial institutions... But the collapse of the financial system as we know it is real, and the crisis is far from over.

Indeed, we have just entered Act II of the drama, when financial markets started losing confidence in the credibility of sovereign debt... budget deficits are essential for counter cyclical policies, yet many governments have to reduce them under pressure from financial markets. This is liable to push the global economy into a double dip...

When there is a significant divergence between market prices and the underlying reality I speak of far from equilibrium conditions. That is where we are now.

The European authorities face a daunting task: they must help the countries that have fallen far behind the Maastricht criteria to regain their equilibrium while they must also correct the deficiencies of the Maastricht Treaty which have allowed the imbalances to develop. The euro is in what I call a far-from-equilibrium situation.

He will speak more on the latter subject in Berlin this Wednesday. In the meantime, please note his comment on market prices, which I have highlighted. Some people seem to think that the corrections in stocks and residential property have brought us back to normality - I don't think so.

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