To create a sustained and substantial recovery, gurus and their audiences agree that much matters on the fiscal front. In the darker days of the economic crisis, most financial sentinels and their allies proclaimed that large sustained fiscal deficits were good (or at least acceptable, up to some point). Whatever have been the short term benefits of enthusiastic deficit spending campaigns in America and elsewhere, epic fiscal measures only shifted some of the debt (and leverage) burden from the private sector to the public one.
However, nowadays big sovereign debt generally is viewed as a problem. Most of the public hopes that noteworthy fiscal progress to reduce terrifying deficits has been made, is being achieved, or eventually (and soon enough) will be accomplished.
Let’s spend time surveying some fine print regarding the fiscal landscape, paying particular attention to Europe and America. At best, only limited advances have been made in recent wars against huge deficits. Actually, judging from their very modest results, these struggles to slash them look more like skirmishes than pitched battles.
A Financial Times front page headlines the European Union’s “tough fiscal treaty” (1/31/12; this refers to the “Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union”). Many applaud this treaty for its alleged fiscal hard line. It indeed takes a step towards resolving Europe’s sovereign debt and banking crisis, but a small step is not a giant leap. Despite the stagecraft of European leaders, the region’s fiscal challenges are not near to being resolved.
Though many states and municipalities face scary times, let’s focus on the federal deficit. The US fiscal situation remains fearful.
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Fiscal Fine Print (2-7-12)