In October two of our partners, Paul Rochette and Tucker Hart Adams, left the rest of us working while they traveled to Italy and the Balkans. It’s always good to do a reality check and see how others view us. Here’s what Paul and Tucker have to say about their travels.
Paul in Italy
My recent travels to Italy for a month left me with an opportunity to disengage a bit, and just notice the headlines concerning the US, rather than focusing on the detail.
In the past month, the overall theme that I found somewhat disconcerting but not surprising, was that the US is not doing enough to restrain expenditures, and in fact, through QE2, doing exactly the opposite of what they should.
While in the final stages of my trip planning the dollar to euro exchange rate stood at $1.20, by the time I completed my trip just a few short months later, it stood at close to $1.40. While that cost me an extra $1,000 or more, the real significance was the judgment by the market that the continued monetary easing by the US will end up inflationary. How things had changed in such a short period from how the possible default by Greece (and the rest of the PIIGS) had battered the euro to one where the US easing made the euro look strong.
Perhaps it was also all the strong talk of getting spending under control in Europe. After all, the French had suggested the retirement age be raised to 62 and 65 for partial and full benefits, the Brits had proposed a budget that would cut several hundred thousand public sector jobs and reduce the dole, and the Greeks had promised to do better.
Or perhaps it’s the growing sense that the Chinese are making such a strong play in the world economy, relegating the US to a smaller and less powerful one.
Tucker in the Balkans
Three weeks traveling in the Balkans in October gave me a new perspective on politics and prosperity (or the lack thereof) in the United States. Despite our problems and our penchant for constant carping, this is a pretty good place to live.
Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia and Slovenia – pieces of former Yugoslavia – all show signs of economic growth. There is a great deal of foreign investment underway, especially in the tourist industry, and people in both cities and small towns appear moderately prosperous, despite the remaining devastation from the wars of the 1990s.
People were positive about the time under Tito’s rule, at least those who hadn’t lost a lot when everything was nationalized. Milosevic received most of the blame for what went wrong. And, it was especially gratifying in Bosnia to be told over and over, “We love the United States. You stopped the genocide and saved us. You are a wonderful country.”