We’re being silly if we presume that the sovereign debt crisis is merely a matter of solving the Greek problem, according to PIMCO’s Mohammad El-Erian in an FT op-ed:
Today, we should all be paying attention to a new theme: the simultaneous and significant deterioration in the public finances of many advanced economies. At present this is being viewed primarily – and excessively – through the narrow prism of Greece. Down the road, it will be recognised for what it is: a significant regime shift in advanced economies with consequential and long-lasting effects. To stay ahead of the process, we should keep the following six points in mind.
And yes, that means The United States, though not only The United States.
Here’s a killer stat:
US sovereign indebtedness has surged by a previously unthinkable 20 percentage points of gross domestic product in less than two years. Even under a favourable growth scenario, the debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to continue to increase over the next 10 years from its much higher base.
Many metrics speak to the generalised nature of the disruption to public finances. My favourite comes from Willem Buiter, Citi’s chief economist. More than 40 per cent of global GDP now resides in jurisdictions (overwhelmingly in the advanced economies) running fiscal deficits of 10 per cent of GDP or more. For much of the past 30 years, this fluctuated in the 0-5 per cent range and was dominated by emerging economies.