Despite global uncertainty and a few weaker-than-expected earnings, today's market is in much better shape than in 2008, says Jim O'Neill, Chairman at Goldman Sachs Asset Management.
"The key to this market movement over January is that people were worried about everything that could go wrong, literally across the board. And with it, (there was) a staggering amount of cash around," O'Neill tells CNBC.
"We came into the year with people full of fearing (a repeat of) '08 if not worse…and the evidence from all over the place is that it’s nothing like '08," O'Neill adds.
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While Europe remains mired in uncertainty, with fears of defaults and meltdowns constantly grabbing headlines, a look at the numbers shows fundamental improvements, with Germany business sentiment and manufacturing data firming.
"So one third of the euro zone that’s supposedly falling apart is actually improving," O'Neill says.
China, meanwhile, is avoiding a hard landing and is positioning itself for further growth.
"China has created $1.4 trillion dollars of GDP in a year, that’s 10 percent of the eurozone in one year,” O’Neill says.
"I used to say China creates the equivalent of another Greece every four months. It’s now less than every three months. They’re creating half a United Kingdom every 12 months."
The U.S. economy grew 2.8 percent in the fourth quarter, although a good chunk of that growth came from businesses restocking inventories and not from consumers spending more or companies investing for future growth.
Furthermore, U.S. incomes rose in December by 0.5 percent, according to the Commerce Department, while spending dipped, a combination that would suggest fears are gripping household budgets anew.
"Muddling through is the best term that can be applied to the current economic environment, even though the risks of a downturn have been reduced," says Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities, according to the AFP newswire.
"By the same token, the data shows that there is no real risk of an upside surprise either."
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