By Alan Steel
Remember all those articles and special reports about Greek debt; the whingeing and complaining, the fear and dread, the ever-present global apocalyptic endgames on The Nightly Noise at 10…?
Well, today’s chart above from Barry Ritholtz on his wonderful blog, The Big Picture, certainly puts the Greek stock market into perspective (notice how the land of olives and Taramasalata doesn’t make the cut in either era for the pies above).
It’s like a different kind of “Pie-Gate” but with the same foul smell.
But it also served to remind me of how my wife and I were in Florida over Christmas and New Year to soak up the sun ,and maybe take in a bit of the economic and financial picture in the US from surf-side at Anna Maria Island in Tampa Bay.
This was far from our first journey there. We started going almost seven years ago when an old friend of mine from Edinburgh named Pete had moved out “to live in Paradise,” and introduced me to what he called his regular “Brains Trust” coffee mornings at a quirky little joint called “Ginny’s and Jane E’s” diner.
And back in 2010, during my first foray into the mind-set of this eclectic group, the main topic of conversation and concern was Greece.
That country’s economic woes were all the rage at the time – it was deemed to be like a circling black swan that would bring the world stock markets crashing down.
However, Pete and I had already covered this territory the night before, alongside ample helpings of Gran Marnier.
So that morning, Pete called me out at the table and said, “Alan, tell them about how tiny Greece is financially.”
So I asked the group what size they thought Greece was in economic terms (GDP as it’s described on the telly) as compared to their home state of Florida?
And just for perspective, let’s be clear that most folks think of Florida as primarily filled with theme parks, swamps and snowbird old timers escaping northern climes.
To say they were stunned to learn that Florida’s GDP was over three times the size of Greece’s at that time was an understatement.
So what about today?
I can tell you that Florida’s GDP is now four and a half times the size of Greece. And that’s a fact.
Most folks are equally surprised to learn that Florida, as a State, has the fourth biggest GDP in the US; at over $900 billion it’s a third bigger than Switzerland’s, and the same size as Indonesia’s, which has a population thirteen times the size.
The GDP of Texas at $1.6 trillion is the same as Canada’s, and California’s $2.5 trillion is the same as France’s, the sixth biggest country economy in the world, not far behind the UK’s.
Perspective is a wonderful thing don’t you think? It changes your whole way of looking at things.
And if you were at all surprised about Greece’s place (or lack thereof) on the pie chart you might want to start questioning what else about the economy and the stock markets that you believe to be true.
It could turn out to be a very profitable experience.