Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The economist flock wheels as the US Government shuts down

The US Government shutdown has begun, with both sides in entrenched positions. Meantime, the fight over the debt ceiling looms. A friend chose to visit Washington just at this time, and her Facebook page is full of photos of the places that she had wanted to visit, now shut!

So far the markets are taking all this in their stride; we have been here before, after all. The immediate damage done to the US economy will depend on the length of the shut-down. There are varying estimates here, from .1% to 1.4% of GDP. The debt ceiling is more important, for US default would be a first.

Here in Australia, the economic commentary on the performance of the Australian economy is best described as confused. And that's without taking into account the US position. China is up, or is it? Australia has an incipient property bubble, or does it? Australian manufacturing is still declining, or is it?  Each statistical release is studied, reacted to; the reporting and commentary flocks, circles, breaks away, depending on the number; not everybody has the same interpretation, birds in a flock adopt different positions, but the flock as a whole wheels in a common way.

For my part, I am the bird sitting on the nearest tree or telegraph pole watching the whole thing. I see little point in rushing to rejoin the flock; too much effort. I accept that many of my fellow birds have no choice. They have deadlines to meet, advice to be provided, income to be earned, bets to be made. For my part, I am trying to focus on the longer term directions, setting the parameters for that flight south - or east, or west, or whatever!

We live in interesting times, and shortly I will have to provide some longer term advice. But for the moment, I stick my head under my wing and try to peck that annoying insect causing irritation.     

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