Italian Premier Mario Monti said Tuesday that restoring health to the public finances should be a priority in the United States regardless of whether President Barack Obama or Republican candidate Mitt Romney wins the presidential elections there. He warned that investor confidence in the dollar could crumble quickly if this is not the case. ''Certainly yes,'' Monti replied when asked whether there was a risk of a growing imbalance in the United States' finances. ''It's important that all the big areas of the world make a contribution towards reabsorbing the imbalances, including fiscal ones,'' added Monti, whose emergency government has passed austerity measures to steer Italy out of the centre of the eurozone crisis, at a press conference at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Laos. ''As for the United States, we know the size of its deficit and its debt well... ''The American authorities are aware of the problem of budget imbalances. On the other hand, the political world's capacity to attack these imbalances has shown itself to have many limits in that country and issues related to public finances are often at the centre of the public debate. ''Attention on issues regarding America's public finances will remain high whoever wins the elections''.
The United States has a public debt of over $9 trillion and has run a budget deficit of over $1 trillion for the last four tax years. Monti said the dollar continues to be the world's reserve currency because there is a propensity for private and public international portfolios to have large quantities of public debt, but warned that this does not mean that ''things can't change quickly''. The Italian premier also suggested that he had doubts about German Chancellor Angela Merkel's forecast that it will take five years to overcome the eurozone crisis, while conceding that fixing the situation will take considerable time.
''The crisis has been so deep and has determined such big adjustments that one cannot believe it will be possible to emerge from it very quickly,'' Monti said. ''As for the forecast of five years... maybe I don't have the forecasting instruments that the chancellor and her advisors used''.