Fiscal Responsibility: Is The US Any Better Than Italy?

I assume you’ve been following the trials and tribulations of Italy and Greece lately. If not I’ll give it to you you in a nutshell: their profligate spending has finally caught up with them and they are on the verge of defaulting on their debt, their borrowing costs have skyrocketed, and the situation is so bad it is threatening the financial stability of all of Europe and maybe the entire globe. As a result they are being forced to swallow fairly harsh austerity measures until they can clean up their mess.
In watching this train wreck unfold you can’t help but wonder how safe the US is from this very same type of calamity, given our own budget deficit problems. Up to now we’ve been spared any backlash from our financial turpitude by virtue of the fact that global investors just love US bonds – only because they don’t have a good alternative. But you have to ask how our fiscal responsibility (or lack thereof) compares to other countries around the world and how long it will be before we also meet the inevitable.
Well, it turns out that the Comeback America Initiative, in conjunction with students at Stanford University, created a sovereign fiscal responsibility index that allowed them to rank the fiscal behavior of 34 countries and see just where the US landed in the rankings. And the answer is that we landed in 28th place, just behind Italy in 27th place!! Meanwhile Greece came in dead last at #34. So by their measures we are worse than Italy in managing our finances.
Interestingly, they did a separate ranking under the assumption that the US adopts the recommendations of the National Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Commission and the US jumps up to 8th place. So the answer is out there…it’s just that the politicians don’t like it.

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