Tag Archives: PIIGS

Europe Risks Another Global Depression

The entirely pointless G7 meeting this weekend only served to underline the fact that Europe is again entering a serious economic crisis.

At the end of the meeting yesterday, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner told reporters, “I just want to underscore they made it clear to us, they the European authorities, that they will manage this [the Greek debt crisis] with great care.”

But the Europeans are not being careful – and it’s not just about Greece any more.  Worries about government debt and associated public sector liabilities (e.g., because banking systems are in deep trouble) have spread through the eurozone to Spain and Portugal.  Ireland and Italy are next up for hostile reconsideration by the markets, and the UK may not be far behind. 

What are the stronger European countries, specifically Germany and France, doing to contain the self-fulfilling fear that weaker eurozone countries may not be able to pay their debt – this panic that pushes up interest rates and makes it harder for beleaguered governments to actually pay?

The Europeans with deep-pockets are doing nothing – except insist that all countries under pressure cut their budgets quickly and in ways that are probably politically infeasible.  This kind of precipitate fiscal austerity contributed directly to the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Continue reading

Is Tim Geithner Paying Attention To the Global Economy?

In an interview that will air Sunday on ABC, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says, “”We have much, much lower risk of [a double-dip recession] today than at any time over the last 12 months or so … We are in an economy that was growing at the rate of almost 6 percent of GDP in the fourth quarter of last year.  The most rapid rate in six years.  So we are beginning the process of healing.”

The timing of this statement is remarkable because, while the US is finally showing some signs of recovery, the global economy is bracing for another major shock – this time coming from the European Union.

The mounting debt and deficit problems in Greece might seem relatively small and faraway to the US Treasury – concerned as it is with China’s exchange rate and the ritual of G7 meetings, and likely distracted by the major snow storm now hitting Washington DC.

But the problems now spreading from Greece to Spain, Portugal, Ireland and even Italy portend serious trouble ahead for the US in the second half of this year – particularly because our banks remain in such weak shape. Continue reading