Unemployment in Europe Hits Highest
Level Since Inception of Euro

The unemployment rate inEurope is at its highest level since the inception of the euro.

This is not the type of statistic the 17 members of the European Union had in mind when they decided to share a currency. Here is what the unemployment rate trend is looking like throughout the European Union…and it is not encouraging:

December 2011: 10.4%

January 2012: 10.6%

February 2012: 10.7%

(Source: European Central Bank)

That 0.1% difference between January and February represents roughly 185,000 people, so it is by no means an insignificant number. Once again, records are being broken, but for all the wrong reasons.

Spain, which I’ve been writing about in these pages, is fighting back against the European Central Bank (ECB). The country refuses to go along with the budget deficit targets set by the ECB—it is no wonder with their unemployment rate now sitting at 23.3% as of February.

Italy’s unemployment rate soared to an 11-year high of 9.2%.Greece’s unemployment rate continues to rise, hitting a high of 19.9% and counting. Both Ireland and Portugal saw their unemployment rates climbing higher, with both reaching 14.4%.

As Ireland’s unemployment rate continues to rise and voters go to the polls in the next few months to decide if they are going to implement austerity measures from the ECB, what, dear reader, do you believe the voters will decide?

The good news is that Austria’s unemployment rate continued to be a true bright spot in an otherwise dreary landscape; its unemployment rate remained at just four percent.Germany’s unemployment rate worsen somewhat, but still came in at a very respectable 5.8%.

The numbers I list below are horrifying. Here are some of the worst youth unemployment rates (ages 16-24) across the European Union as of January 2012, except where noted:

Greece: 51.1% (as of December 2011)

Spain: 49.9%

Portugal: 35.1%

Italy: 31.1%

Ireland: 29.6%

Mostly Germany, but to some extentFranceas well, has been pushing austerity measure laws throughout the ECB for all of its 17-member nations. They have held countless summits in order to develop and discuss the laws.

But where is the summit to discuss youth unemployment and the deteriorating unemployment rates among the youth of Europe? Where is the summit to discuss the rising unemployment rates across southern Europe ?

I was the first economist I know who said in early January that the European Union was in a recession. The economic numbers are accelerating to the downside, which means that the “mild” recession that is being talked about is going to be just that: talk. The truth is that the recession is worsening in the European Union.

Watch out for the complacency in the markets—and be suspicious of their recent rise. There are serious structural problems in the world that are not being dealt with, dear reader.

Where the Market Stands; Where it’s Headed:

They were dancing on Wall Street last night! After the trillions of dollars by which the U.S. government has increased its debt, after the trillions of dollars by which the Fed has increased the size of its balance sheet, the stock market hit a high yesterday not seen since 2007.

Wall Street finally got what it wanted, a strong breakout for stocks on the upside—a surefire way to lure even more investors back into the stock market. This is exactly what the bear market rally is supposed to do—bring more suckers in before their money is taken away again.

What He Said:

“If I had to pick one stock exchange that would rank as the best performer of 2007, it would be the TSX (Canada’s equivalent of the NYSE). Interest rates in Canada remain very low and they are not expected to rise anytime soon. Americans looking to diversify their portfolios, both as a hedge against the U.S. dollar and a play on gold bullion’s price rise, should consider the TSX. Most brokers in the U.S. can buy stock on this exchange.” Michael Lombardi in PROFIT CONFIDENTIAL, February 8, 2007. The TSX was one of the top-performing stock markets in 2007, up just under 20% for the year.