NOT enough. That's the answer markets have given to the European Central Bank's (ECB's) move yesterday to cut rates by 25-basis points to their lowest on record yesterday to support the ailing economy. Response to the move was lacklustre, especially as the bank didn't announce any measures to ease concerns over Italy, the region's third-biggest economy, and Spain, the fourth.
Spanish stock markets had their biggest daily fall since June 25 because of the disappointment, and following renewed concerns about the bail-out to its banks.
In Europe, every bit of indecision invariably means investors opening up yet another can of worms. European holiday-makers should be factoring in another stormy summer.
The ECB offered no new liquidity initiatives, nor was there a hint that the bank would intervene in sovereign bond markets to break the cycle of fear engulfing some of the region's bigger economies.
"This lack of decisive action leaves the eurozone vulnerable to renewed financial turmoil," Holger Schmieding, chief economist at London-based Berenberg Bank, said in a note.
The global economy has a lot invested on the successful management of the uncertainties that surround the eurozone. And the ECB is reacting less forcefully to those risks than other central banks, such as the US Federal Reserve.
The ECB's inaction has led to a serious credit crunch and a recession. If Europe's financial authorities still aren't in control of the crisis, what are investors to do except panic?
There's a lot to keep us awake at night. German Chancellor Angela Merkel hasn't managed to find common ground with the newly elected French President Francois Hollande. New tax and labour policies in France, the region's second-biggest economy, are seen as a disaster. And lastly, there remains the risk of Greece leaving the monetary union.
The outlook for SA and other emerging markets exposed to Europe remains fragile. Political risks are the most significant concern, which practically makes it impossible to predict when the uncertainty will end.
US RETAIL giant Walmart has had to jump through many hoops to get into SA's retail market.
Trade unions, antitrust authorities, government ministers and some retailers have all voiced concerns at the entry of the 50-year-old retailer.
Some critics have warned that the government's reaction could eventually scare off the US retailer, and deter other foreign investors.
But this juggernaut has a much thicker skin than that, and wherever the family-owned business goes outside of the US, it has received the same reception from wary governments and unions.
There's a reason Walmart chose to navigate SA and the rest of the continent's retail space. There's little room to grow in its home market, and Europe is hardly better.
There was further evidence of this just this week, with Massmart's results. In an essentially slowing economy, the Walmart-controlled chain delivered 16% sales growth.
Admittedly, it's still small in the life of Walmart, but that type of growth is something that the company will not see from its US operations for some time yet.
According to Bloomberg, US retailers' June same-store sales at more than 20 companies tracked by Retail Metrics rose 0,3%, compared with a 1% average estimate of analysts surveyed by the research firm.
The numbers alone tell you why foreign investors continue to pile into South African retail stocks. Over the past year, the JSE retail index has gained 24% compared to a 7% rise in the all share.
Local fund managers may fret over how expensive the sector may or may not be, but it's not their thoughts on valuations that are driving the sector. It is foreigners' search for growth.
THE central banks of the US, Europe, UK and China have over the past couple of weeks acted in tandem to provide additional liquidity in their respective jurisdictions, which in turn is supposed to boost confidence levels in the global economy.
It's a stark testament to just how bleak prospects remain for the global economy. The cuts may provide some boost to the global economy in the short term, but their effects will be fleeting.
There's still much restructuring to be done in Europe, the US and even in developing nations such as ours to boost confidence levels.
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