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None of these countries has the political leadership that appears to be capable of dealing with the entitlement problems they all face.

Italy, Spain and Japan have a demographic crisis, where the elderly, dependent population is rapidly outgrowing the number of workers. As a result, their economies are in a slow death spiral.

Most world economies, and all of the major world economies, are very fragile at the moment, and any shock could cause a new global financial meltdown.

The world may luck out as it has for the past two years, but if the major economies do not soon get their fiscal houses in order, the risk will continue to grow. Then, the well-being of billions of people will go “poof.”

Richard W. Rahn is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth.