Agreement that something needs to be done with soaring deficits is easy to find, in the US and abroad. Actually doing something reasonable about huge deficits has proven impossible to date.
Fiscal Deficit Blame Game
Bloomberg reports Geithner Joins Boehner in Trading Blame Over Fiscal Cliff Talks.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and House Speaker John Boehner hardened their positions over the fiscal cliff, each blaming the other for a standoff that could lead to more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts in January.
“There’s not going to be an agreement without rates going up,” Geithner said in a taped interview that aired today on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Republicans will “own the responsibility for the damage” if they “force higher rates on virtually all Americans because they’re unwilling to let tax rates go up on 2 percent of Americans.”
Republican Boehner said the White House is wasting time.
“I would say we’re nowhere, period,” Boehner said on the “Fox News Sunday” program. “We’ve put a serious offer on the table by putting revenues up there to try to get this question resolved. But the White House has responded with virtually nothing.”
There’s “clearly a chance” that there won’t be an agreement in time to avert the fiscal cliff, Boehner said on the Fox program. “Just the threat of the fiscal cliff is already hurting the economy.”
Geithner appeared on five talk shows today. In the interviews, taped Nov. 30, he challenged Republicans to make a counteroffer to the Obama administration’s framework plan.
Gene Sperling, Obama’s top economic adviser, challenged Republican congressional leaders to put an offer on the table.
“It’s for them now to come forward with their plan, with their details, so that we can start working quickly to getting an agreement,” said Sperling, director of the White House National Economic Council, on “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend.
“The ball really is with them now,” said Geithner, the administration’s lead negotiator on the fiscal cliff, on CNN. “They’re having a tough time trying to figure out what they can do, what they can get support from their members for.”
Chancellor George Osborne has admitted that curbing the UK's financial deficit is "taking longer" than planned.
But he told the BBC the government was "making progress" and that to "turn back now would be a complete disaster".
Mr Osborne, who delivers his Autumn Statement on Wednesday, said well-off people would "pay their fair share".
"The deficit is down by a quarter. There are a million more jobs in the private sector and to turn back now, to go back to the borrowing and the debt and the spending that Ed Balls represents would be a complete disaster for our country."
He added that some people were calling for more borrowing and others for more spending cuts, but the government had "got the right plan and we should stick to that plan".
Dismal economic conditions in the eurozone accelerate to the downside as evidenced by falling retail sales. Let's take a look at the Eurozone in aggregate, as well as the three largest countries.
Eurozone Retail Sales Drop Sharply
The Markit Eurozone Retail PMI® shows Eurozone retail sales continue to fall sharply towards end of 2012.
At 50.2 in November, the seasonally adjusted Germany Retail PMI was little-changed from 50.3 during October and, by remaining close to the 50.0 no-change value, signalled broadly stagnant month-on-month retail sales in Germany. This has been
the general trend throughout the second half of 2012 to date. Anecdotal evidence from survey respondents largely suggested that subdued consumer confidence was the main factor weighing on retail sales during November.
European House of Cards
The contraction in French retail sales continued in November, but at a weaker rate. Both the monthly and annual measures showed less marked declines. Sales once again disappointed relative to previously set plans. Gross margins continued to be squeezed, although the rate of decline moderated.
The headline Retail PMI® posted 48.8 in November, up from 46.0 in October. The latest reading was indicative of a moderate pace of decline that was the weakest since June. Where a decline in sales was recorded, this was generally attributed by panellists to a difficult economic climate, reduced levels of customer footfall and strong competition.