Does the Euro Deserve the Bad Rap It's Getting?

May 17 (Bloomberg) -- On today's "Insight & Action," Adam Johnson looks at the European economy on Bloomberg Television's "Street Smart." (Source: Bloomberg)

(This Insight & Action was originally broadcast on May 17, 2013)

Europe is getting a bad rap. Pundits and portfolio managers alike have made much of this week's news that Europe is experiencing its sixth consecutive quarter of contraction, the longest stretch ever. Still, we'd like to provide an alternative view: that Europe is turning the corner. Consider today's headlines:

We recognize auto sales and consumer confidence are still well below pre-crisis levels, but let's focus on the direction of the move, which is clearly upward. In fact, bond managers have been telling us for months that Europe has turned the corner. This suggests Bloomberg TV guests have been saying one thing while bond traders have been doing another: buying. Compare today's yields on so-called peripheral sovereign debt with levels one year ago. There's been a big change:

What's especially surprising is the reluctance of stock traders to join the party. Stock investors are usually the optimists in the room, but they have shown no love for European stocks. The Euro Stoxx 50 -- Europe's Dow Jones Industrial Average -- has barely budged since 2009, compared to an 83 percent rally for the S&P 500.

I suspect the discrepancy will prove too hard to ignore over the next few months, bringing in the bargain hunters.

I also want to share with blog readers another observation: what's been happening (or not happening) with the euro. It's still trading at $1.28, near the bottom-end of its range since 2008. I make the point in order to pose one final question before starting the weekend: If bond traders are buying Europe, and if equity investors begin value shopping in Europe, can the euro be far behind?

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