Back in March 2009, when the US financial system was imploding, one of market oddities was that European financial risk was far more muted than that of its American counterparts, with European stock markets trading, on a relative basis, far better than the epic collapse that the S&P had just experienced having plunged by over 50% in months. It was this freefall that forced the Fed to take on the most daring capital markets rescue attempt ever attempted, and by injecting and guaranteeing tens of trillions at the nadir of the financial crisis, it spawned a doubling of the US stock markets (at a huge cost: US capital markets are now all centrally planned, and the price of gold: that inverse indicator of faith in fiat currencies, has also doubled in the past 4 years following an epic fiat dilution orgy). Over the same time period, Europe has demonstrated what happens to capital markets when there is no central planner willing and able to accept the risk of runaway inflation in the future (not to mention soaring deficits and deferred austerity) in exchange for instant stock market gratification right here, right now. End result: the French, Italian and Spanish stocks markets have barely budged since their 2009 lows (and Spain is well below). How does this look in the context of all global stock markets on a Price to Book ratio? The answer is below.
The next logical question becomes: just why is the global investor willing to pay over 2 times book value for the average US stock, and unwilling to pay more than 0.8 Book for Italy and Spain. And how long until the realization that the rickety house of cards supporting the US stock market's 2.0+ P/B ratio is resting purely on the shoulders of a profligate Fed now that US corporations have once again resumed their downward "profitability" trajectory?