The issue of European & US debt


July 25, 2011

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On Thursday last week, Joe Hogan, chief executive, ABB – one of the largest international suppliers of electricity distribution and plant automation equipment – made a couple of very short but very salient remarks.

He was in the midst of delivering solid second quarter results, with revenues up 43% on last year, topping out at an impressive $893m. A set of results, he said, that was directly attributable to recent efforts to push up energy production through greater use of wind and solar power.

But it wasn’t his company figures (as good as they were) that were the truly remarkable thing. It was his candid comments about Europe. And in particular, about European finance in the future, that were worthy of note.

In providing a backdrop for the European economy, Mr Hogan said, “I feel that we [ABB] have a good platform for growth over the next 12 months but the economic environment is a concern and could begin to affect us…”

Or put in simpler terms, European politicians only have a finite period of time to tackle the escalating debt crisis before risking a serious loss in confidence in the market.

Now, given the timing of his remarks – coming as senior European Union finance officials met to try to nail down a new Greek rescue package – it was clearly a natural link and one that certainly helped temper analyst future expectation.

However, it was also a sober reminder for the wider wind energy market. As manufacturers, engineering firms and support services chase down the future, instilling commercial confidence, remains key.

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