At present there appears to be four problems-- aside from the fiscal cliff-- that could throw the U.S. economy into recession in 2013.
These are international problems that include:
- Brewing trouble in Japan: Japan faces an election next month. More importantly, its government debt is currently 230% of GDP, with that ratio rising by about 10% a year. The current government has increased sales tax in 2014, which may cause a recession and will likely push its debt to GDP ratio even higher.
The problem is no country has ever survived a debt/GDP ratio above about 250% without defaulting. Britain did succeed with this in 1815 and 1945, but on the second occasion it relied on exchange controls, inflation, and dozy domestic investors, while on the first occasion it had a government under Lord Liverpool far more capable than anything we have seen in the last 185 years.
The point is, if Japan gets a weak coalition after its election, the market may panic and cause a Japanese government default.
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