Europe's scary economy

Europe’s zombie economy scares FA readers

Respondents to our web poll last week chose Europe as the world’s scariest economy.
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Photo: AFP</div>
<div style="text-align:right; font-size:7pt; color:rgb(119, 119, 119);"> Photo: AFP</div>

Halloween is traditionally a time for sharing scary stories, so we asked our readers last week to tell us which part of the world they find most terrifying: China, Europe or the US.

POLL RESULT

With Halloween on its way, which economy scares you most?

US
 20%

Europe
 56%

China
 24%

Unsurprisingly, Europe’s zombie economy came out on top in our poll with a huge share of the vote. MF Global chief executive John Corzine would probably agree with that, after a nightmare weekend spent desperately trying to rescue the firm from being buried alive by European government bonds. It was a futile effort, in the end, and MF Global filed for Chapter 11 yesterday.

It looked as though things were turning for the better at one point last week. Stock markets rallied when eurozone leaders declared they had saved Greece and the euro from collapse with a (Halloween-inspired?) three-pronged rescue package, but the relief did not make it through the weekend.

Indeed, the deal had been cheered more for its arrival than for its content. Part of Europe’s solution, it turned out, was to ask China for a bailout — easier perhaps than getting one from the region’s own central bank (the lender of no resort), but a trick-or-treat that would be fraught with challenges.

Worryingly for the EU’s leaders (those that read FinanceAsia, anyway), almost a quarter of our respondents reckon that China scares them more than Europe, prompted perhaps by frightening tales of underground moneylenders, a new round of bad loans and corporate corruption. That doesn’t bode well for the rescue plan.

Even the US was not far behind in the scary stakes, thanks to fears about how it will manage its own debt problems.

In short, our readers are suitably spooked about a whole bunch of things. On the bright side, there are 54 days until Christmas.

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