Conflicting economic priorities in Europe likely will spell the end for the region's common currency, widely followed investor Dennis Gartman said.
The author of The Gartman Letter attributes much of the global market tumult this week to weakness in the European Union, and specifically remarks Thursday from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi.
Speaking in Washington, Draghi, who famously promised two years ago to do "whatever it takes" to keep the EU together, emphasized that central banks can't by themselves save the world and need cooperation from fiscal policy. It's hardly the first time that message has been sent—former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke often pleaded with Washington for fiscal policy coordination—but Gartman, writing in his daily missive, said global markets needed to hear more:
As the world awaited a hoped-for clear and precise statement that the ECB was prepared to actually take action on monetary policy and become expansionary, it instead heard a lecture explaining that he and the others on the ECB's monetary policy committee had done all that they could do to try to strengthen the economy there and that the real battle had to be waged by the political authorities to reform the sclerotic nature of the economies there.
The result, he said, is a bifurcated Europe.
On one side there are the "GAFs," or Germany, Austria and Finland, who oppose U.S.-style quantitative easing, or asset purchases aimed at goosing financial markets. On the other side are the "FIGs," or France, Italy and Greece, whose economies are struggling and need liquidity measures.
So far, he said, the GAFs have won, and this is what is roiling markets that have come to depend on central bank largess since the financial crisis.
The (euro), we fear, is doomed to failure at this point. The political anger that has been evidenced in the battles over (European Commission president-elect) Mr. (Jean-Claude) Juncker's proposed Cabinet ... shall erupt in full flower in the days ahead. The FIG countries cannot abide further austerity; austerity in the face of 20+percent unemployment is economic nonsense. On the other hand the GAFs, with sub 6 percent unemployment, really don't need an expansionary monetary policy, can abide fiscal conservatism and will fight for both.
Markets are in a state of flux. U.S. stocks saw both their biggest gains and biggest losses of the year this week. The German market is off 4.1 percent for the week, French stocks are down 4.7 percent and Spain's IBEX has lost 3.7 percent.
Gartman noted that "capital is scared" and fleeing to safe havens like the U.S. dollar and Japanese yen, and likely will continue to do so until the current round of turmoil ends:
Therein is the torment that disrupts Europe. Therein is the problem. Therein is the reason that the (euro) will be torn apart and should be. What the GAFs need the FIGs don't, and what the FIGs need the GAFs don't. We needn't make it more complicated than that … nor should we; nor shall we.