Automatic cuts set to take effect today will pinch U.S. government functions as the country enters a more austere era that could push discretionary spending as a share of the economy to its lowest level in at least 50 years.
When the housing bubble burst in 2006, U.S. policy makers looked to Japan for clues about what to do -- and not do -- in response. Now their attention is shifting to Europe as America gets set to follow that region with a concerted attack on its budget deficit.
There are two main schools of thought on what may happen next with Europe’s debt crisis. Some well-informed people strongly believe that everything will work out just fine, and without much of an economic slowdown. Other, equally well-informed people believe just as strongly that the euro area will break apart in a traumatic manner. When it comes to predicting Europe’s future, not many people occupy the middle ground.