An Economic Risk Assessment

As Greece moves to approve austerity measures, and Spanish and Italian interest rates recede, Europe has become less of a risk to the U.S. economy. But approval of Greece's plan still rests with eurozone parliaments, and a final decision isn't expected until March, when Greece faces a key debt payment. With rampant riots and so many angry voters in Greece, the international community is anxious to see if elections in April bring a new government that will continue the austerity programs. The risk of a Greek default appears to have dissipated for now, but potential roadblocks remain.

So what are the risks to the U.S. if Europe is now less of a threat? It's not just a question of austerity and politics in Greece -- the very same issues exist right here at home. The Obama administration's proposed 2013 budget was unveiled this morning and it includes a mix of tax hikes and spending cuts. The budget warrants a discussion of its own, so I will cover that in more detail in another column. What I want to focus on are key aspects that affect the U.S. consumer, namely, the temporary payroll tax cut, and the potential expiration of extended unemployment benefits....554 more words left in this article. To read them, just click below and try Real Money FREE for 14 days.

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