What's the worst thing that Europe could do right now?
: The worst thing they could do is to keep doing what they have been doing for the last two years. Just saying don't worry, everything is going to be ok, we'll lend you some more money. The worst thing is to continue what they are doing. So far, Alix, if you look at all of the plans, for all of the countries, none of them show reduced debt next year or the year after or the year after that. They all show their debts continuing to rise. If they continue to do that, eventually the market is going to come to them and say no more. We won't give you any more money. We aren't going to play this game anymore and then the whole system could collapse.
Do you think they fiscal consolidation that France and Germany are trying to put forth this week is actually going to make any difference or is it more of the same?
: No, it's more of the same. The Germans have not really said for fiscal consolidation, they would like to have everybody to mind them, but the French aren't going to say "yeah, we will let Berlin run the tax system and our spending system." Even the French would say "do you remember the Second World War? We are not going to do that."
So what should the credit rating of the 17 nations in the Eurozone be?
: Different ones should be different things. I mean Greece is fail, whatever the fail is.
Should Germany and France still be AAA?
: No, of course they shouldn't. France certainly shouldn't. There's not many people that should be AAA anymore, maybe Finland, maybe China. I can't really think of many countries that should be AAA anymore.
What would a hard landing look like in China?
Some parts of the Chinese economy are going to have a hard landing
. The Chinese for two years now have been tightening up. They have raised interest rates six times. They have raised reserve requirements a dozen times. Just recently they started to loosen this up a little bit but they are trying. They are trying to bring down real estate, they are trying to make real estate developers go bankrupt so you are going to have a hard landing to use your terms in things like property in China.
But other parts of the Chinese economy are going to continue to boom: water treatment, agriculture, farmers are not going to know that the real estate speculators in Beijing and Shanghai are going bankrupt because they are working too hard and making too much money so you are going to have sectors of the Chinese economy with serious problems but it's not the whole Chinese economy. It's not like it was here.
Some have argued that China has taken the first steps to start pumping more money into the system by cutting reserve requirements, that they will continue to do so in 2012 especially when the government transitions leadership in late 2012, do you think it's going to happen?
: Well, you are right. They have loosened up twice in the last month or two. I wouldn't if I was China but I am not China. It looks as though they are going to start loosening up. I guess the real estate speculators are calling up and saying save me, save me, save me and they are starting to listen.
: It's a terrible idea. They need to crack inflation. They've got a serious inflation problem. Either they have to beat inflation internally or they have to make the currency convertible. They are apparently not going to make the currency convertible. Now if they continue with inflation, then they are going to have even more problems a year from now, two years from now.