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Outlook 2012: Living In Interesting Times

With everything that has happened across the globe this year, we are reminded of the Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." People may debate whether this is actually a curse or even of Chinese origin, but as we write the outlook for 2012 we wonder if these interesting times are indeed past us. The global outlook is far from stable two years after the global recession. In fact, this year was marked by some of the worst financial crises of recent history, with the possibility of more piling on. Indeed, it seems the global economy is at a tipping point. Will the tailwinds supporting economic activity prevail over the headwinds emanating from many regions? Sovereign debt woes and sharp fiscal tightening in the Euro-zone; the risk of a renewed credit crunch and housing market problems in the U.S.; signs of a potential slowdown in China - not surprisingly, some analysts are darkly comparing the coming year with the double-dip contraction between 1929 and 1938 that marked the Great Depression in the U.S. and a period of social and financial turmoil throughout Europe. If 2011 was the year of the Chinese curse, might 2012 be the year of a more USA-styled phrase - "You ain't seen nothin' yet"?

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