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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Let’s get to the bottom of what’s going on in the markets not only at home but also overseas. Mark Gilbert is Bloomberg London Bureau Chief — he’s been watching the market in both sides of the Atlantic, and he’s with us on the line now from London. Hi, Mark.
MARK GILBERT: Hi, there.
CHIOTAKIS: Why so much volatility?
GILBERT: Investors don’t really whether the glass if half-full or half-empty. They’re very cheered that the Fed is doing a lot to try to put up the economy, but at the same time, they’re really quite nervous that the need for more Fed action tells you that the global growth outlook is really quite bad — that the recovery is faltering. And in that situation, where do you go for safety? That’s why gold’s up, that’s why the Swiss Franc’s up, but it’s why stocks can’t quite make their mind up at the moment.
CHIOTAKIS: Europe, of course, Mark, had been reacting to rumors today of bank insolvency in France. Tell us a little about that.
GILBERT: Well, we know the French banks own a lot of the debt of those indebted European nations — some of whom had to have rescues — we know it’s been hurting their earnings. You know what, that’s true of the entire banking sector here. France itself is seen as vulnerable. It’s a AAA rated country, and the theory is that if the U.S. isn’t AAA, maybe France isn’t either. And we’re seeing that in its bond market, we’re seeing it in the derivatives market. And the banks generally, though, are known to be exposed to these debt problems we have in Europe.
CHIOTAKIS: What would a French banking crisis mean for the U.S.? Is that the same as the European debt crisis on the whole?
GILBERT: It’s even worse. The entire French banking sector is very fragile after the credit crunch. It’s four year anniversary is this year — the wholes in the banking sheet really haven’t been repaired. They’re still taking big risks in what they do in their businesses. A banking crisis — with the global economy this week — you don’t want to think about it.
CHIOTAKIS: We get jittery, Mark, and we look at the stock market and we say gosh, it’s up 500 points, down 600, whatever. Are the markets really telling the story of what’s going on with the global economy?
GILBERT: You know, markets run on fear and greed and at different times, fear has the upper hand. At other times, greed has the upper hand. What we’re seeing at the moment — in 20 years of watching the markets — I’ve never seen it this bad. Between those two emotions, almost hour by hour — and what that tells you is that investors have no certainty in the outlook for the economy — we’ve got no certainty on what the true value is. The central banks are interfering so much in the price of things — there is really no clarity about what’s going to happen in the future and that is the real message of markets at the moment. Times have never been more uncertain
CHIOTAKIS: Mark Gilbert from Bloomberg in London. Mark, thank you.
GILBERT: Thank you, sir.