International

When It Comes to Deficit Reduction, Timing Matters

The news that Britain has entered into a double-dip recession touched off a fierce debate last week over the role of austerity in the country's downturn.

Eurozone Challenges Should Give Pause to U.S. Lawmakers

Europe's worsening debt crisis--notably Italy's--should serve as a warning to the United States of what can happen to an otherwise steady, solvent economy whose debt is too high. In short, when debt gets so precariously high that interest payments become a very large budget line, debt markets can expand a slight decrease of confidence into a significant increase in interest rates. From there, the crisis can quickly descend into a national failure to refinance expiring bonds, and then possibly into national bankruptcy and default.

‘Line’ Items: Looking Abroad Edition

To the Shores of Tripoli – With President Obama on vacation and Congress in recess, most eyes are turned away from Washington and towards developments overseas. The Middle East is being closely watched with a strongman in Libya on the verge of falling and another in Syria involved in bloody fighting to stay in power. But Europe also is worthy of attention with the debt crisis there compelling leaders to discuss major fiscal and economic policy changes.

How Other Countries Have Regained AAA Ratings

Over at Ezra Klein's blog, Sarah Kliff writes about the "Maple Leaf Miracle," or how Canada was able to turn itself around after it was downgraded.

Recent Study Ranks U.S. Debt Fifth Largest Among Major Economies

A recent report from the Associated Press Global Economy Tracker found that the U.S. national debt (as a percentage of GDP) is the fifth largest among the world's major economies. According to the Tracker, which analyzes financial and economic data from thirty of the world's largest economies, U.S. debt in the first three months of the year equaled 95 percent of GDP.

What Happens If China Stops Buying Our Debt

Megan McArdle at The Atlantic writes about what happens if China stops buying U.S. Treasury bonds. She points out that a fiscal crisis is unlikely to be foreshadowed by signs such as a gradual rise in interest rates or other countries merely slowing down lending. Rather, citing the studies of Carmen Reinhart, she argues that changes would be much more precipitous.

The IMF on Fiscal Adjustments

As we have been looking at a number of fiscal plans for the US recently, the IMF has a useful appendix in its most recent Fiscal Monitor on what has worked and what has failed in past fiscal consolidation attempts (a topic we have delved into in the past).

Fiscal Power Rankings

Students at Stanford University, under the guidance of Comeback America Initiative (CAI) CEO and CRFB board member David Walker, have developed a Sovereign Fiscal Responsibility Index (SFRI) in an attempt to compare the quality of fiscal policy across different countries. The study, unsurpringly, does not contain good news for the US.

MarketWatch: February 14-17, 2011

Markets so far this week have reacted to mixed news on the growth front in the US plus new concerns on inflation. As things start to wind up for the weekend, traders are also nervously watching news from various parts of the world.

MarketWatch: January 31 - February 4, 2011

Markets in the U.S. and elsewhere have focused on signs that the U.S. economy continues to recover, although still at a very gradual pace. January’s payroll employment data and updated benchmarking for 2010 indicate that job creation remains very sluggish, even adjusting for possible weather-related effects which may have held down jobs numbers.

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