If you’re familiar with fairy tales, you’ve probably encountered a story or two that involves the granting of wishes. Usually, these are cautionary tales. Well, there was some wishing going on around the globe last week and, if the wishes come true, the outcomes may be less beneficial than anticipated.
In the United States, some folks wish Chairwoman Janet Yellen and her peers at the Federal Reserve would set a timetable for rate hikes. Barron’s offered the opinion that abandoning a data-driven process in favour of a calendar-driven one would be a mistake. Recent improvements including a slight spike in consumer confidence, somewhat stronger consumer spending, and a generally improving job market remain mired in residue of the Great Recession. For instance:
“Housing remains in the doldrums as potential buyers cite insufficient savings, excess debt, poor credit scores, and, yes, their incomes as stumbling blocks on the road to home ownership. Higher rates won’t fix any of those problems, and even setting a schedule for rate hikes could create head winds if it causes loans to become harder to get in anticipation of the change.”
Across the pond, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (U.K.) may cover a lot less territory if Scotland wins independence in this week’s referendum. Until recently, few thought the measure had enough support to pass, but the latest polls say that it may happen. While independence may seem like a reasonable objective, there are economic and other challenges attached that could profoundly affect the new country. These include:
- What currency will the Scots adopt? (U.K. leaders have said Scotland cannot keep the Pound.)
- How will the U.K.’s national debt be divided? (By population? By gross domestic product?)
- How will markets respond to Scottish independence? (Will Scotland establish its own stock market? Will companies relocate to England?)
- How will the remainder of the United Kingdom be affected?
There is an adage that may prove appropriate here: Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.