September 20th, 2011
07:54 AM GMT
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(CNN) – The news that Italy, the eurozone's third largest economy, was downgraded by credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s dealt another blow to hopes of a sustained market recovery Tuesday.

The second paragraph of S&P’s report on the downgrade speaks volumes about the debt-laden tumult spreading across developed economies:

“In our view, Italy's economic growth prospects are weakening and we expect that Italy's fragile governing coalition and policy differences within parliament will continue to limit the government's ability to respond decisively to domestic and external macroeconomic challenges.”

It’s a script torn from the same page as the U.S. – the gold standard of debt worthiness – when it watched its debt rating reduced by S&P in August ,  as partisan brinkmanship put Washington near the edge of defaulting on its credit card bill.

The Greek debt drama will turn two years old this December, and still the European Monetary Union appears to lack the leadership to get chart a clear solution out of the debt contagion that has hit Ireland, Portugal, Spain and now Italy.

Meanwhile in Japan, the world’s third largest economy just elected its sixth prime minister in five years.

Italy recently turned to China to help the nation with its debt woes, much like the rest of developed world appears to rest their hopes on a Chinese-led global recovery. But Chinese leadership has problems of its own – as Premier Wen Jiabao recently told a group of business leaders that “countries must first put their own house in order.”

A few weeks ago, the media world seemed to prematurely eulogize Steve Jobs when he announced he was stepping down as Apple CEO for health reasons. Since then I’ve had the Flaming Lips’ song “Waiting for Superman” in my head. Somehow, watching a brilliant business leader take a step back from the company he founded underlines how few leaders – in politics or in business – truly inspire public trust and confidence.

As today’s downgrading of Italy shows, our wait for a Superman to lead us out of the credit crisis may be more like “Waiting for Godot.”

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Filed under: AppleAsiaChinaEuropean UnionGreece

soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Christianna

    Can't we just cancel all the debt? No? Proclaiming the year of Jubilee, you know. (Though in 3-4 years we'll be all back to the same state unless we change the fundamental way we live.) Most nations are not starving to death. What's the problem? The global financial system must be changed, maybe. Apply the year of Jubilee, please, before someone starts WW3.

    September 20, 2011 at 8:33 am |
  2. Christianna

    I think some people are receiving the money they don't deserve even legally and many others are not receiving their labors deserve on Planet Earth. Is there any way for the talented and big brains to work hard without the perspectives of being paid back overly big? Can't every child on Earth be sent to school properly? Can't commoners' life standard in rich nations be lowered without revolts? America, remember how you raised your children when you were rising from a scratch?

    September 20, 2011 at 8:45 am |
  3. Christianna

    The reality – we don't work hard, accomplish too little, expect too much paybacks, spend too much and always spend someone else's money.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  4. power4things

    I think we call this Marxism, Christianna, and honey, it just changes the old thieves for new ones. Somebody will always come out on top, fair or not, and I'm afraid "fair" is not the bottom line in this world ... just like cavemen, aggression always wins – it just wears better suits nowadays. I do like the Jubilee idea, though ... comes from the Old Testament.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  5. Paul Johnston, PhD Economics


    September 20, 2011 at 9:35 am |
  6. André

    There's only one reason for the debt crisis: Politicians, in need of votes, buys those of the lowest common denominator by taxing hard working, innovative wealth creating entrepreneurs. Since self-made people are a numerical minority, losing them is no big deal if you can win the masses. It's time our votes count proportional to age, education and tax paid.. in this way the intelligence of the population can reflect in the policies it votes for.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:42 am |
  7. dougaussie

    China won't save the west because that would expose it to the same problems, buying bad debts. And anyway china has a housing bubble that will bust like all housing bubbles bust. Economics is bigger than china. Globalism, multiculturalism, greed, free trade, free enterprise has well and truly screwed up the entire world, now its falling to bits.
    i really really hope it will all bottom out soon before we hit a worldwide depression... it will be very bad and very scary.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  8. saj

    its high time credit cards should be banned. people just dont have enough savings. its like u spend first and cover ur debts from what u earn. u fall sick, u lose ur job or someother unforseen situation and everythings gone crazy and now with all this cuts and hidden taxes people wont be saving much. countries running on export based income r gonna have a tough time till the US gets better.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  9. gliese42

    Is superman still wearing his red underwear?

    September 20, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  10. Carl van Zijll de Jong

    The World needs an economic protocol.
    When do we open our eyes and see the economic turmoil is a “global” issue. National matters and problem solving will not resolve the global economic turmoil. We are committing a fundamental trespass in our economic activities that will hurt us all, each individual on this planet. However, we have arrived at an opportune time for to decide whether we will live on the principle to “care for our neighbour”, or by the principle of the “law of the jungle”... the survival of the fittest. For your information Google “The World Monetary Order”.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  11. J.J. Sedelmaier

    Interesting article with a very strange choice of visual. With all the Superman iconography out there, why choose to present a display that shows part of a costume ?

    September 20, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  12. Canuck Feed

    Canada has surpassed the United States for levels of economic freedom ...

    September 20, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  13. gliese42

    Once upon a time there was a rich America who gave donations worth trillions by taxing its citizens but today we have a America who still taxes its citizens and still giving trillions to our friends who are our enemies. We need to change as Obama uses to say and perhaps we need to learn from others why they succeeded and why America failed

    September 20, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  14. kevin

    The pope is desperatetly calling for attention. Who ells will be the superman for this sinking world then the pope? Biblical prophecy show the pope will soon get its power that it lost during the french revolution. Watch and See.

    September 20, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  15. Alvaro Sevilla

    You do not need Superman, Back to Basics: The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith. The capitalist system is being looted by greed and lust for refugees megacapitales tax havens and tax avoidance. We propose that the CNN and the man who writes that we contact and will gladly explain more. Or visit me on Facebook, there I am saying. Cordially

    September 20, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  16. ursaalbus

    Forget Superman...we need Robin Hood.

    September 20, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  17. Truth pointer

    Global economies going down is the least of the world's concerns, as it's only one of the many symptoms of the real problem which is going on: human decadence. Let's face it, we came to this level after systematic corporate, state and even international fraud. Building on lies, deceit and without integrity was building something that was never going to last any way. At this rate the building of our ancestors will outlive ours.

    September 20, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  18. Really????

    It's time for the U.S to STOP borrowing money that keeps pushing our debt higher!! We need to clean our own house!! WE and WE ALONE are responsible for our problems!! We are a nation of SPOILED BRATS!! We need a new economic system like that of Norway and Canada who are in the black!!! TAXES WILL HAVE TO BE RAISED to get out of debt!! We CANT AFFORD TO BORROW FROM CHINA ANYMORE... Because guess what... When China decides our debt is due.. Guess what you'll be giving up??? American businesses and OUR LAND... Don't believe me???? research it... Our Government has been offering China our land as collateral on loans.... And China is running out of land and space for their people.....Research it.. It's both parties Republican and Democrat.....

    September 20, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  19. Eliezer Pross

    The stage is set for the fallen one to rise. The end is near, the King of kings and Lord of hosts reigns now and forever. I long to see you my King!!

    September 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  20. lorne

    the great depression is on us.

    September 20, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  21. swoopy009

    A superman will arise to temporarily solve the problem – he's called Antichrist!!!

    September 20, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
  22. Z

    Okay, what I don't get in this article is the following statement:

    'But Chinese leadership has problems of its own – as Premier Wen Jiabao recently told a group of business leaders that “countries must first put their own house in order.”'

    How does the Chinese Premier's statement that countries need to sort out their political wranglings translate into problems for China??? Duh??? CNN and co. should stop this desperate attempt at trying to pull China down at all costs!! Its not working anymore!!

    September 20, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  23. John Thomson

    The world needs a GREAT PHILOSOPHER.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  24. Chopen

    There's a new game in town and its called "How low can the economy go!"

    And also for those hoping for superman to save the world... he is busy with the ladies these days and has no time for political and economic rescue – he's refered the matter to Batman and Robin who are working for China's stock market mostly trading in gold and silver.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  25. kjmu

    The mess now with Greece is concerning the option of having a war or close to that with Turkey. Turkey prime minister, Mr Erdogan has said 2 days ago that Turkey will make its presence felt in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and use its capabilities at a time when Greece and Cyprus are looking to exploit recently discovered gas fields off its coasts and partner with Israel to build energy facilities. Turkey, which does not recognize Cyprus's Greek government (Turkey occupy large part of Cyprus in the 70’s in a brutal operation), has bitterly complained about recent Cyprus-Israeli energy deals. This huge natural gas fields have the potential to save Greece from its economic disaster situation…but the Turks like to take it by force and the western world does neither help the Greeks nor the Cyprus's Greek government!

    September 21, 2011 at 12:09 am |
  26. Arrogant

    The problem with the world economic problem is that we are spending more than we earn and are borrowing beyond our ability to pay our debts. My wife and I have made a golden rule early in our marriage : We will not spend money we do not have. Result : We are debt free, have a nice nest egg and live comfortable. No credit cards, only debit cards.
    If the Governments of all countries do the same, no vote catching promises like most socialist countries do to get into power so that they can spent even more, make people poor, so they will vote for them again is the biggest fallacy in this world. People vote with their feet! Take some time to study economics . You will soon learn to vote right and keep your purse springs tight. Like the Chinese do. My wife thinks, that the way we go China will be the winner and the winner gets all.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:55 am |
  27. lolface

    if superman took down large corperations than that would save the world

    September 21, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  28. Paul

    "Can't we just cancel all the debt?"

    That is what is called a complete default. That is a very painful thing to do since all the banks that hold that debt would be immediately bankrupt, and no one in his right mind would lend money to governments that default. So it would be forced to drastically cut spending overnight.

    Another option usually taken by governments is to just print money and pay off the debt with it. This is much worse as it wipes out everyone inside that country via inflation, not just the banks. This is just a default in disguise as the creditors are payed back, but with monopoly money that does not buy anything. This postpones the problem since printing money does not translate into inflation immediately, but over a few months or even years. This is what most countries do (especially the US), but European countries cannot do it because they do not print their own currency.

    Bailouts are another thing they try. This means a wealthy country lends money at low interest to the failing country. This only kicks the can down the road, and compounds the problem as the failing country now has a bigger debt.

    The best option (not the one usually taken btw), is to cut government spending, so that government stops borrowing more and more and actually starts paying off its debt, combined with a partial default. A partial default means that the government pays a portion of the debt, and just ignores the rest. It is still painful, but better than the alternatives.

    September 22, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  29. liann163

    very good from

    September 22, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  30. RussH

    We need to start worrying about our own economy. With all the outsourcing our corporations have done and our federal resrve run by the Europeans, we need to come home. Stock exchange needs to be reestablished along with our government. To many give me and I give back.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:33 am |
  31. Outside the Box

    If this is a global recession, we need to have a global solution as no country can solve this in isolation. We need to realize that we are our brothers' keepers and if one country is on the brink of bankruptcy, we need to find a way to help them in their time of economic need. In thinking outside of the box, my suggestion is that every well thinking citizen of any country in the world, who is willing and able, could donate to a fund to bailout any country which is in need at this time, with the proviso that they subsequently live within their means as there would not be a second bailout.

    September 23, 2011 at 2:48 am |
  32. Forgot the ederly

    Now superman come and save the banks....

    September 23, 2011 at 3:02 am |
  33. hankie

    USA, Canada, UK etc almost all democracy based nations have come to the end of thier lifespan. this is the simple truth, get used to it. if you get 200 yrs out of a democratic civilization, your doing pretty good. Democracy is meant to be temporary , until you come up with a better system. which nobody really did. the sequence of this life cycle is: ( try to dispute it) :
    1. bondage to faith
    2. faith to courage
    3. courage to liberty
    4. liberty to abundance
    5. complacency to apathy
    6. apathy to dependence
    7. dependence to bondage
    of course one could argue we loose it all in the market meltdown and become food stamp nations of the world.

    September 23, 2011 at 4:07 am |
  34. hankie

    to argue, the next step is to vote in a dictator, that will lie his way to the top and promise anything and everything to anybody. whos that going to be?

    September 23, 2011 at 4:11 am |
  35. hankie

    yep... pretty bored...

    September 23, 2011 at 4:19 am |
  36. Ramrod

    The one man one vote system presently used in "democracies" all over the world is a very divisive system. You are for one candidate and against all the others running for a particular office. An inclusive system would be better suited to promote democracy. With a "No fault" election you could vote for more than one candidate running for president. The person getting the most vote wins. With this system a "third party" candidate could not be used to steal an election (2000). This system would also make it easier to vote for an independent candidate; you would not feel your vote is wasted.

    September 23, 2011 at 5:40 am |
  37. superman

    It's so insane cause when it's going good, it's going great
    I'm Superman with the wind at his back, she's Lois Lane
    But when it's bad it's awful, I feel so ashamed I snapped

    September 23, 2011 at 5:59 am |
  38. Epsilon

    Behind above position is the life of some million people.I can not understand how a univresity can give a PHD to persons (economist) considering the things by this way.Maybe finally the reason for World economical problems is these "PHDS" governing the ideas in West

    September 23, 2011 at 6:43 am |
  39. joe dettling

    Amdre is correct, in the USA half the adult population pays no fed income tax , this needs to be changed so only taxpayers can vote, then there would be no debt crisis in the USA When I was a young child I was told the story of the bees , when the flowers had nectar you gather the honey and put it in the hive, When the winter comes only the bees that gathered the nectar can live and eat from the hive, the rest are left out to dfie. So be it with unproductive people, let them die when the winter comes

    September 23, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  40. desert voice (troubledgoodangel or Nathanael)

    God alone is Superman. Don't wait for another. He has the right ideas. Ask His Holy Spirit! Every good idea is His. I can't say for sure if my idea of doubling world's cash supply without devaluing it comes from Him. I would try. If it does, it will change the world!

    September 23, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  41. Eduards from Latvija

    "Global debt crisis: Waiting for Superman" – With it is all told.
    Is not difficult to predict the future

    September 24, 2011 at 6:36 pm |

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