3 Ways the Greek Debt Crisis Might Be Good for the U.S.

European states in the splash zone of the Greek debt crisis will almost certainly have to cut back on spending and raise taxes, triggering a double-dip recession throughout the European Union, and hurting US exports.

But what if Europe's debt disaster actually works out for the United States ... kind of? Tim Duy finds three reasons:

1. Capital Gains for the U.S. Scared investors are running from peripheral EU states that look like they could follow Greece into the abyss. (It's called the contagion effect: explanation here.) Running from Europe, investors might seek shelter in US investments, driving down our interest rates and giving companies looking to hire more access to capital. Duy concludes, "the odds of sustainable recovery look better every day."

2. No Tightening from the Federal Reserve. Some liberals and moderates are concerned that the Federal Reserve might try to prematurely tighten its monetary policy by selling assets to squeeze inflation before we've achieved sustainable recovery and consistent job gains. But the crisis in Europe makes it more likely that the Federal Reserve will sit tight and keep money easy. After all, a Greece default -- which is all but certain -- could shock high-debt, low-growth states like Portugal and Spain and send jitters throughout the global economy. The Fed, nervous about feeding those fears, will probably keep interest rates low for an extended period of time with the European debt bomb ticking.

3. Cheap Oil. A weak Euro and a stop-start European economy means cheap oil, relief at the pump for the re-emerging American consumer, and marginally higher demand for cars. An exogenous oil shock helped to pop the housing bubble in the mid-2000s. Cheap gas is an economic lubricant.

In short, Duy suggests that the European debt crisis "puts a lid" on interest rates and oil prices. Cheap borrowing and cheaper oil won't offset a major debt tsunami if the European situation takes a turn for the worse and spooks banks and stock holders. But in the short term, the United States might reap the benefit of turmoil across the Atlantic.

Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

More in Business

Just In