Investors high on Europe despite sagging E.U.

by in Politics.

People pass next to tomatoes thrown by demonstrators in the entrance of the International Trade Fair during a protest against austerity measures and the layoff of public workers on September 7, 2013 in Thessaloniki. AFP PHOTO /Sakis Mitrolidis

People pass next to tomatoes thrown by demonstrators in the entrance of the International Trade Fair during a protest against austerity measures in Thessaloniki. AFP PHOTO /Sakis Mitrolidis

Since the global financial crisis of 2008, European politics has veered toward ideological extremes, with resentment of bailouts and associated austerity programs sparking new parties on right and left. But despite whispers from London to Athens about potentially ditching the euro or exiting the E.U., panelists at a Blouin Creative Leadership Summit discussion of global investing expressed confidence about the potential for regional growth in the years to come.

“We think Europe generally is on the right track,” said Stephen J. Toy, managing director of Wilbur Ross and Co. “We are seeing some of the benefits of the decisions they’ve made over the last few years.”

One might assume those very decisions to cut public services and raise taxes could imperil economic growth in the future. After all, we saw in recent Italian and German elections that anti-E.U. parties are on the cusp of political viability, making many investors skittish. But Toy seems to think the worst of the anti-Brussels fervor is behind us.

“We’re gravitating more towards places like Ireland, the U.K., even finding things in Germany that are interesting,” he said in an interview. Toy did express concern about the Hollande government in Paris, however.

“France might be the biggest risk if they go from a net giver to a net taker,” he said, referring to their diminishing contribution to the regional economy. “They’ve sort of resisted much of the reform that others have chosen to move forward on. If France starts to stumble, I’m more concerned by that than what the new German coalition is going to look like.”