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NASSIM TALEB: 'The European Union Is A Horrible, Stupid Project'

Nassim Taleb

Foreign Policy Magazine's Benjamin Pauker interviewed Nassim Taleb for the November issue.

One of the things Taleb discussed with Pauker was how he thinks European leaders are headed in the complete opposite direction right now in trying to solve the euro crisis.

Here's Taleb, via FP:

The most stable country in the history of mankind, and probably the most boring, by the way, is Switzerland. It's not even a city-state environment; it's a municipal state. Most decisions are made at the local level, which allows for distributed errors that don't adversely affect the wider system. Meanwhile, people want a united Europe, more alignment, and look at the problems. The solution is right in the middle of Europe -- Switzerland. It's not united! It doesn't have a Brussels! It doesn't need one.
...
The European Union is a horrible, stupid project. The idea that unification would create an economy that could compete with China and be more like the United States is pure garbage. What ruined China, throughout history, is the top-down state. What made Europe great was the diversity: political and economic. Having the same currency, the euro, was a terrible idea. It encouraged everyone to borrow to the hilt.

Taleb has never been known to hide his opinion.  In the interview, he also shares his thoughts on the U.S.

Read the rest at Foreign Policy >

SEE ALSO: NASSIM TALEB: Former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin Represents Everything That's Bad In America >

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China's Back From A Week-Long Holiday, And The Shanghai Stock Market Is Up

Shanghai Street

The weekend is over.  And for China, a week long holiday is over. China's Shanghai Composite is up 0.2% early in the trading session.

Early reports show that this year's Golden Week holiday was much bigger for tourism and sales than last year's.

However, the rest of Asia is down.

Korea's Kospi is down 0.7%.

Australia's S&P/ASX is down 0.2%.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng is down 0.2%.

Japan is closed for holiday.

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Here's Goldman's Worst-Possible, Black-Sky Scenario For The Fiscal Cliff

What's the worst possible thing that could happen when we hit the fiscal cliff?

Here's Goldman's Alec Phillips and Jan Hatzius going through some of the possibilities:

Under the baseline “not so good” scenario, fiscal policy would shave nearly 1½ percentage points from real GDP growth in early 2013, compared with ¾ points in 2012. In this case, we expect a renewed moderate GDP growth slowdown to a 1½% pace in early 2013.

Under the alternative “bad” scenario, the fiscal drag would rise to nearly 2 percentage points in early 2013. This bigger hit, combined with the possible greater uncertainty if an agreement proves elusive for a few weeks in early 2013, would probably cause a sharper slowdown in GDP growth to 1% or less.

Finally, there is the tail risk scenario that Congress fails to agree on any type of resolution for a more extended period, and the economy is hit with both the sequester and much bigger tax increases. While the impact of such a failure—especially those related to confidence and financial conditions—are harder to quantify, just the direct fiscal impact would imply a GDP growth hit of around 4 percentage points in early 2013, and likely a recession.

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One other thing to note in regards to the fiscal cliff. There is a sense on Wall Street that the race for The White House has truly been reset after last week's debate. Romney is unquestionably back in this.

Any assumption about what DC will look like after November 6 is now called into question, and trying to wargame out the fiscal cliff has gotten a lot harder.

For more on Obama's collapsing poll numbers, see here >

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