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Send in the heft

May 23, 2012 - By Steven R. Peck

It might be time for a high-profile leader outside Greece to get involved in the solution

In times of crisis around the world, it's been relatively common for a high-profile world leader -- most often an American -- to enter negotiations, seek a meeting with principal leaders, or initiate a new type of process to try to solve a problem that has proved intractable through its ordinary channels.

It might well be time to take that approach with the Greek financial emergency, and perhaps the entire Eurozone crisis as well.

In other words, could a high-profile leader who has not been central to the process enter it now and do some good?

The unending Greek turmoil has been a powerful lesson to average Americans of the interconnectedness and interdependence of the world's developed nations. Greece is not a giant on the world economic stage individually, but when its economy staggers as it has been for the past year, the whole world feels it.

If you have a 401(k) account at your job, then it's been eroded badly in recent weeks thanks to the uncertainty in Greece. If you have a retirement fund attached to your job in a school district, county government, state government or federal employment, you've noticed a drop in value as Greece and its Eurozone partners continue to thrash around through a maddening series of starts, stops and reversals on Greece's debt, its currency, its international obligations and its unstable political structure.

The same goes for the college fund you started for your child or grandchild, or the mutual fund you dabble in online, or the small brokerage account you've set up with a financial planner.

Retirements are postponed. Home sales and purchases are delayed or scrapped. Foreclosures rise, borrowing and lending decline, and consumer sentiment darkens. Spending is reduced. Oil prices zigzag amid uncertainty. Gasoline's cost jumps. Business expansion is delayed. Jobs are lost.

All because Greece hasn't been able to bite the fiscal bullet and adopt an economic policy that offers the rest of the world a measure of stability.

So, maybe it's time to send in Jimmy Carter. Get Bill Clinton on the phone. What's Alan Greenspan doing or Michael Bloomberg? Call Bill Gates or Warren Buffett? Put Al Simpson and Erskine Bowles on a plane. How about James Baker or Sergio Marchionne, the guy who has turned Chrysler around?

When a problem proves too hard to solve, then a new way of solving needs to be tried. On many occasions an eminent citizen from above the fray has been able to make real progress in easing stalemates in other parts of the world. Recent history has many examples.

Someone of reputation and heft needs to step in. If we haven't been offering, it's time to start.
 

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