Shoot Me Now: Austerity Is Bad for Your Health

The headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, Germany.
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The headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt, Germany.

Shoot me now: Austerity is bad for your health. Really.

If Europe's newly elected politicians in Iceland and Italy need another excuse to turn away from austerity, here's a good one: It's bad for you. A new book by researchers at Oxford University says more than 10,000 cases of suicides and up to a million cases of depression have been diagnosed in Europe since the "Great Recession."

Austerity is not just bad for your mental health: Greece had its first malaria outbreak in decades when budget cuts forced the country to halt mosquito-spraying programs.

Backed by this kind of rigorous science, is it any wonder that growth stimulus is back on the table in Europe? (Italy has a new government that seems clearly hostile to austerity, Iceland has put back a pro-growth government.)

(Read More: Is Italy's Economy Minister Draghi's Man in Rome?)

And, of course, central banks will continue to be accommodative this week. The European Central Bank will likely cut rates, and the Federal Reserve will likely affirm they will continue its third round of quantitative easing.

A trader friend of mine messaged me this morning to express his continuing disbelief at the global rally.

"There's no respect in the market for macro issues," he said. "No one ever talks about the market going down." He was especially incredulous that investors were buying into the endless central bank stimulus: "If the world is still facing disinflation at one percent interest rates, then why suddenly would we get a huge boost to inflation at one-half percent?"

Little wonder that stories about dividend paying stocks floated around all weekend. The second-largest dividend exchange-traded fund, the iShares Trust DJ Select Dividend, is up 13 percent this year, versus 11 percent for the S&P 500. Most of the outperformance has been during the last few weeks.


1) The big global industrial companies continue the trend: beat on bottom line, miss on topline, affirm earnings. Multi-industry giant Eaton, which makes electrical and power transmission products all over the world, summed up what the year is turning into: "2013 is a year in which our results will depend more on our execution than on global growth," CEO Alexander Cutler said in the company's earnings release.

In other words, cost-cutting is still the primary driver of earnings growth. Actual market growth will be on the lower end of expectations: "We continue to believe our markets will grow 2 to 3 percent in 2013, most likely toward the lower end of the range."

Regardless: Eaton, like many other multi-industry companies, affirmed its full-year guidance.

Here's a rarity: another big industrial raising guidance. Roper (think medical and scientific imaging, energy systems, water and fluid handling pumps, and radio frequency products) also continued the trend of beating on the bottom line, but coming in light on top line. However, it raised the 2013 earnings per share to $5.76 to $5.94 (from $5.60-$5.82). First-quarter orders were up a surprising 9 percent.

2) Europe up, led by Italy, which swore in a new, diverse government. Borrowing costs are down across the board. Italy's 10-year bond fell to 4.09 percent, near a 2.5-year low; the 10-year auction saw an average yield of 3.94 percent, the lowest level since October 2010.

3) Halfway through first-quarter earnings season, blended earnings growth is 3.6 percent; the uncanny revenues are lagging, up 1.4 percent.

(Read More: Earnings Preview—Media Companies in the Spotlight)

4) Hospitals rally pre-market after analysts note the government's proposed inpatient hospital payment rates look slightly better than expected for the upcoming fiscal year. A proposal released late Friday calls for a nudge up in payments; the final rule is expected Aug. 1. Tenet Healthcare jumps 6.9 percent after getting upgraded at RW Baird and UBS this morning. UBS also upgraded LifePoint Hospitals and raised its target on Community Health Systems and Universal Health Services.

Managed care company Health Net reported better-than-expected first quarter earnings and revenue, and raised its 2013 profit outlook. HNT posted first-quarter EPS of 62 cents, 21 cents higher than the Street's estimate. The company upped its 2013 EPS by 20 cents on the high and low end to between $2.20 and $2.30, versus expectations of $2.07 a share. HNT's lower expenses helped offset declining enrollment.

By CNBC's Bob Pisani

  • Bob Pisani

    A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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