2012 will the year that the consequences of the choices made by nations of the so-called developed world will begin to truly manifest themselves in the economic realm. We are in the closing chapters of the current Debt Supercycle, with different countries strewn out along the path, some at more advanced stages than others but all headed for a destination that will force major decisions if politically painful actions are not taken. The longer that process takes, the fewer options that are available and the more painful the outcomes. Some countries (think Greece, et al.) have a choice between dire economic circumstances and disastrous. The option for merely difficult choices was passed long ago, and the rules are such that there is no going back to where you started without a different but equally painful outcome.
This is the time of year I think about the future, and foolishly opt to make predictions. This year I have decided to be especially foolish and to think about the next five years, especially for the US. Why five? Because I think by then the consequences of our past and immediate future choices will have been realized, the "reset button" as it were will have been pushed, and the economies of the developed world will be ready to move on to a brighter future. The question is, from what level will that new upward journey begin? It will be very different for different countries, depending on the paths they choose.