Jun 01, 2012 5:20 AM GMT
It's remarkable that there remain those particularly on the left who think deficits aren't a big deal in the US and who advocate for even more unsustainable stimulus.
The budget deficit as a proportion of gross domestic product in the U.S. amounted to 8.2 percent at the end of 2011, government figures show. That’s twice the 4.1 percent ratio for euro-region countries, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“Of course Europe has its problems, but it’s in much better shape than the United States,” Taleb said. He voiced similar concerns about U.S. prospects at a conference in Tokyo in September.
Yields on two-year Treasury notes were little changed at 0.285 percent at 9:19 p.m. New York time yesterday, while yields on five-year notes dropped more than one basis point to 0.761 percent.
Rising interest rates would make things worse for the U.S., said Taleb, a principal at hedge fund Universa Investments LP who also serves as an adviser to the International Monetary Fund.
“We have zero interest rates,” Taleb said. “If interest rates go up in the United States, you can imagine what the deficit would be. Europe is like someone who is ill but is conscious of it. In the United States we are ill, but we don’t know it. We don’t talk about it.”
Europe’s lack of a centralized government works in its favor, he said.
“The best thing Europe ever did is managing to have members bickering with each other, so you don’t have the big government,” Taleb said. “Centralized government doesn’t work. In Europe they tried to have a powerful Brussels, but what happens when you have a powerful Brussels? You have lobbies hijacking Brussels.”