If only the future of pensions in Europe and the Eurozone was as straightforward as picking the winner of the Euro 2012 football championship. If countries worked to their strengths, used a little bit of imagination, and took advantage of the opportunities on their doorstep, then perhaps European leaders would be more successful in steering their economies through these turbulent times. Spain and Italy would put their unique talents to work in designing stylish solar-energy related products that would be as competitive as the matches they fought on pitches across the Ukraine and Poland!
When playing as a team, the sum is greater than the total of the individual parts…….
Euro 12 found the English and Irish Exchequers holding out for a boost in consumer spending the longer their teams stayed in the competition. Such is the fragility of treasury finances that even a few days extra in a football tournament can have a significantly positive effect on the national psyche.
The approach to the tournament for England was different on this occasion, with the team taking a leaf out of the Irish book and lowering their expectations at the outset. If the forecasts for economic recovery were more realistic we probably wouldn’t still be in this financial mess! Alas, any ‘feel-good factor’ was short-lived, with both Ireland and England going home with their tails between their legs.
There was also a reality-check for Greece who were exposed for their lack of resources in terms of footballing talent, and the Portuguese who despite showing imagination, were weak defensively. Meanwhile, the normally dependable Dutch fielded a team of individuals resulting in them failing to secure a single point. The French, on the other hand, seemed to lack belief in their ability as a team to progress any further than the quarter-finals.
The semi-finals reflected some level of economic justice in the world, with Spain, Portugal, and Italy persevering. In the end, it was flare and creativity that won the day with the measured and diligent football of the Germans being eclipsed by the sparkle of the Italians who in turn succumbed to the dazzling skills of the Spanish. When harnessed correctly artistry can indeed pay dividends!
It is not possible to buy success on the football field at an international level; being a team player is the order of the day. Similarly, when it comes to turning around the European economy, there is a need for a concerted effort by all Member States.
On the equity market front, there has been a surge of activity lately. Pension funds have spent the last few months shifting assets to the less risky environments of the UK and German bond markets. However, the most recent Brussels summit saw Euro leaders ‘crack open the spinach’ and announce more details on the new rescue fund, designed to bring down the cost of borrowing for Southern European countries. The Spanish and Italian economies have won a reprieve; the move may not be a ‘game-changer’ but the Euro is still in play….for now anyway.