That's the title of a very interesting article from Stratfor, providing an in-depth look at the challenges confronting the world's largest economy (Europe as a whole) this year. What happens there will inevitably have a profound impact on the USA and the rest of the world. Here's an excerpt.
It may well be that the European Union is in the process of dealing with its banking problems and might avoid other sovereign debt issues, but the price it has paid is both a recession and, much more serious, unemployment at a higher rate than in the United States overall, and enormously higher in some countries.
. . .
In Italy, Portugal, Spain and Greece, more than a third of the workforce under 25 is reportedly unemployed. It will take a generation to bring the rate down to an acceptable level in Spain and Greece. Even for countries that remain at about 10 percent for an extended period of time, the length of time will be substantial, and Europe is still in a recession.
Consider someone unemployed in his 20s, perhaps with a university degree. The numbers mean that there is an excellent chance that he will never have the opportunity to pursue his chosen career and quite possibly will never get a job at the social level he anticipated. In Spain and Greece, the young -- and the old as well -- are facing personal catastrophe. In the others, the percentage facing personal catastrophe is lower, but still very real. Also remember that unemployment does not affect just one person. It affects the immediate family, parents and possibly other relatives. The effect is not only financial but also psychological. It creates a pall, a sense of failure and dread.
It also creates unrooted young people full of energy and anger. Unemployment is a root of anti-state movements on the left and the right. The extended and hopelessly unemployed have little to lose and think they have something to gain by destabilizing the state. It is hard to quantify what level of unemployment breeds that sort of unrest, but there is no doubt that Spain and Greece are in that zone and that others might be.
. . .
The European Union has been so focused on the financial crisis that it is not clear to me that the unemployment reality has reached Europe's officials and bureaucrats, partly because of a growing split in the worldview of the European elites and those whose experience of Europe has turned bitter. Partly, it has been caused by the fact of geography. The countries with low unemployment tend to be in Northern Europe, which is the heart of the European Union, while those with catastrophically high unemployment are on the periphery. It is easy to ignore things far away.
But 2013 is the year in which the definition of the European problem must move beyond the financial crisis to the social consequences of that crisis. Progress, if not a solution, must become visible. It is difficult to see how continued stagnation and unemployment at these levels can last another year without starting to generate significant political opposition that will create governments, or force existing governments, to tear at the fabric of Europe.
This excerpt from 'Europe in 2013: A Year of Decision' is republished with permission of Stratfor. I recommend reading the entire article. It contains a great deal of food for thought, particularly in the light of the rise of Greece's neo-Nazi 'Golden Dawn' movement. Is this the precursor of more extremism on that continent - extremism that might drive the European Union into disunion?