Yogi Berra, the famous wordsmith who also happened to manage the Yankees, is reputed to have said: “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

That happened to me this morning with my HTC Smartphone because an app had not been properly updated.

Having arrived at work earlier than expected due to surprisingly light traffic, I decided to have a sit down breakfast near the office. While eating, I decided to check out the markets using the very handy Bloomberg app.

I was pleased to read that the markets were up because a conference of Euro big wigs had made some promises and decisions. I didn’t realize there was a big wig meeting but these things are pretty common nowadays. I was pleased to hear that the brilliant conclusions had led the market to recover significantly over the past few days with allusions to the peak in the Spring, low US Treasury yields and…hold on…it was time to check the date…oops, right in the middle of 2011.

I finished breakfast, made a few phone calls (which my children regard as a wonderfully archaic use for such a device) and by the time I went back to check the date, my HTC had figured out that this app was woefully out of date and called in the upgrade function.

The main point is that we, as active participants in the global financial economy, are not making much progress, are we? The fact that I could get more than halfway through an article before I realize it is from last year is not a good sign.

The fact that the Bloomberg newsroom is writing articles about the European Debt Crisis which are nearly indistinguishable from year to year means one of two things. Either Bloomberg is using a software program to write the articles or much of the official response to the Crisis has been in vain (I suspect both!).

This time, however, we are unlikely to be rescued by more stimuli. With a US Presidential Election, a Chinese leadership shuffle and gridlock in Europe, much of the officialdom tasked with rescuing the world is otherwise engaged. Also, if you read John Hussman’s recent update, he has some excellent charts which show that the impact of such intervention is fading.

Since doom and gloom are in fashion this season,as they often are in the “dog days of summer”, it might help to look at some of the things that are going right in the global economy.

In the US, housing has hit a bottom of sorts. Time will tell if this is just a temporary ledge on the six year down slope but for the first time in a long time, housing is not a dragging anchor on the US GDP calculations.

China is trying to cajole its citizens to spend a bit more and develop a domestic, consumer driven economy. Having lived in and travelled to China on many occasions, I have no doubt about the average middle class Chinese person’s ability and desire to consume. The real issues are structural and are in the process of being addressed. But, just as Mitt Romney doesn’t want to talk about sensitive red-meat conservative issues, China’s fifth generation of leaders are not going to bang the drum for Yuan convertibility until they are fully ensconced in their new offices.

And finally in Europe, despite the 24 hour newscycle soundtrack of gloom and doom, we have companies like VW taking global pole position for cars sold from Toyota and GM while Airbus breaks ground on an Alabama factory to produce single aisle planes for the domestic market.

With Governments and Households over extended in most of the developed markets around the world, expect more volatility in the markets as even small shock events have outsized impacts. But, while we may not see broad, index wide growth in the various economies, competitive spirits have not faded at the sector and individual company level.

It may be “déjà vu all over again” for now but it would be risky to get too complacent that all the bad news we are getting fed on a daily basis will come to pass. The “Fiscal Cliff” is scary indeed but so was Y2K. Just talking about it and worrying about it caused solutions to be put in place before the global economy ground to a halt on January 1st 2000. The same thing will happen at the end of this year at the last minute because no one is going to take the blame for driving the US into another recession.


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