Of course, much of the tumult earlier this year came out of Europe, especially Greece, as a burgeoning debt crisis sparked fears of an international contagion. Europe was once again in the news last Thursday thanks to a weaker-than-expected report on business activity in 16 nations that use the euro.
Because of Europe's importance to the U.S. market and around the world, I tried to focus much of my reporting on what is going on there. I had a chance to talk at length with George Papandreou, the prime minister of Greece, and he told me about the significant changes his country has made, including being on target with this year's plans to reduce the budget deficit 40 percent.
"There was a sense of a lack of credibility and of fear about where the Greek economy was going," he told me. "What we've proven is that we have been able to take the most difficult measures and restore, first of all, the credibility that this is a government that really means business. And secondly, as we're doing so, bringing our economy into a manageable and sustainable economy, and a competitive economy. "
Papandreou pointed to structural changes in Greece's labor market and tax system, as well as an emphasis on areas in which the country believes it has competitive advantages – the Mediterranean diet, tourism, shipping, renewable energy and high tech and innovation. He told me that several other countries, including Qatar, Abu Dhabi and China, are now investing in Greece.