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Tags: McCaughan | Europe | years | bad

Jim McCaughan: Next Five Years for Europe Will Be as Bad as Last Two

Friday, 15 June 2012 01:18 PM EDT

The next five years in Europe will resemble the last two: muddling through a sluggish economy while narrowly avoiding disaster, says Jim McCaughan, CEO of Principal Global Investors.

Over the last two years, fears of crises in Europe have roiled markets but leaders have found a way to steer the eurozone away from collapse.

Greece defaulted on its debts with private creditors earlier this year, yet the euro has held up, and even if Spain and Italy need rescue funding down the road, political will exists to work with troubled economies and keep the eurozone alive.

Editor's Note: Google Banned This Video But You Can Watch it Here

"I've described the next five years looking like the last two, a sour, muddling through in Europe, which is a drag and a headwind for the global economy," McCaughan tells CNBC.

Greece goes to the polls on Sunday, and fears persist that voters will thrust enough leftwing lawmakers into parliament that will open the door to a Greek exit from the eurozone.

Talk is growing that central banks around the world are prepared to act should Greece decide it has had enough of painful austerity measures in exchange for bailout money and ditch the euro.

Such actions, liquidity injections likely, won't help much, McCaughan says.

"A very negative result in the election for markets would be met by central bank action. The problem is, providing liquidity is not solving what actually is the structural issue, and the structural issue for all of these countries — Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy — is not only excess debt, but lack of economic competitiveness, which means they can't pay that debt back," McCaughan says.

Should more countries reschedule debt payments, don't expect a Lehman Brothers event.

"Greece rescheduled. A lot of people said they'll have to pull out of the euro or it will be a Lehman type event. It was neither. They're still in the euro having rescheduled. I think the political will to keep the euro together, very unpredictable how long that holds, but it seems so strong."

Calls have been growing for all eurozone countries to underwrite and finance a single bond issue, known widely as a euro bond, which would help ease debt burdens for struggling member countries like Greece.

However, European paymaster Germany continues to reject the idea on the notion that it unfairly raises borrowing costs in healthy countries like Germany by lowering those in more indebted nations.

"I will say there, and I say it here too: Germany will not be convinced by all the quick solutions like euro bonds, stability funds, European deposit insurance funds," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech to a conference organized by a group representing German family-owned companies, according to the Associated Press.

"You can only resolve a crisis of confidence if you tackle things at the roots," Merkel said, referring to too much debt and a lack of economic competitiveness.

"I argue for addressing the roots and not fighting symptoms."

Editor's Note: Google Banned This Video But You Can Watch it Here

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Friday, 15 June 2012 01:18 PM
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