Recently there have been a spate of horrific train wrecks in the news. Almost inevitably we find out there was human error involved. Almost four years ago I began writing about the coming train wreck that was Europe and specifically Greece. It was clear from the numbers that Greece would have to default, and I thought at the time that Portugal would not be too far behind. Spain and Italy clearly needed massive restructuring. Part of the problem I highlighted was the significant imbalance between exports and imports in all of the above countries.
In the Eurozone there was no mechanism by which exchange rates could be used to balance the labor-cost differentials between the peripheral countries and those of the northern tier. And then there's France. I've been writing in this space for some time that France has the potential to become the next Greece. I've spent a good deal of time this past month reviewing the European situation, and I'm more convinced than ever that France is on its way to becoming the most significant economic train wreck in Europe within the next few years.
We shifted focus at the beginning of the year to Japan because of the real crisis that is brewing there. Over the next few months I will begin to refocus on Europe as that train threatens to go off the track again. And true to form, this wreck will be entirely due to human error, coupled with a large dollop of hubris. This week we will take a brief look at the problems developing in Europe and then do a series of in-depth dives between now and the beginning of winter. The coming European crisis will not show up next week but will start playing in a movie theater near you sometime next year. Today's letter will close with a little speculation on how the developing conflict between France and Germany and the rest of its euro neighbors will play out.