The three major blocs of the developed world are careening toward a debt-fueled denouement that will play out over years rather than in a single moment. And contrary to some opinion, there is no certain ending. There are multiple paths still available to Europe and especially the US, though admittedly none of them are bright and carefree. There are very few paths available to Japan, as they have skipped too far down the yellow brick road of debt. None of Japan’s remaining paths have good endings. In the US, even as numerous voices declaim on the crisis that awaits if we don’t act, there is seemingly no collective will to actually do anything as yet. Perhaps it will take… a crisis. In Europe, the peripheral countries can already be said to be in crisis.
This week we will look at the mindset that ignores warning signs, and reflect on a hard-to-believe comment from Mayor Bloomberg of New York. It is a teaching moment that does not bode well for my hopeful outcome in the US. Meanwhile in Europe, the risks have been heightened with the recent vote in Italy. We must remember that Italy is the world’s third-largest issuer of bonds – its problems matter on the world stage. While it may all be molto divertente for those of us sitting on the sidelines, the potential consequences are anything but amusing.