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US Will Be Italy Unless We Cut Deficit: Ex-NEC Director

The U.S. is "Italy lagged about three years" unless the deficit is closed by 2013, former National Economic Council director Lawrence Lindsey told CNBC Thursday.

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"We're running right now about a 10 percent of (gross domestic product)budget deficit, maybe as low as 9 percent," said the CEO of Lindsey Group. "That's on the order of what Greeece is running. The Italian budget deficit is much smaller than ours."

He added: "We have a little bit more time to deal with it because our debt to GDP ratio isn't as high. But the fundamentals of our budget are at least as bad as any of these European countries."

Lindsey said there is a "window in the first half of 2013 to have very, very signficant budget reductions. If we don’t take advantage of that window, I think you will see us where Europe is today."

Lindsey was not impressed by Wednesday's action by the European Central Bank , the U.S. Federal Reserve , the Bank of England, and the central banks of Canada, Japan, and Switzlerland to make it easier for banks to access dollars.

"The action was necessary, but it was hardly sufficient," he said. "That is an idea that’s been talked about for months and months. It's a natural lever for them to pull."

In the same interview, Roger Altman, chairman of Evercore Partners and a former deputy Treasury secretary, said the central banks' action was more symbol than substance.

"The sight of coordinated central bank action signifies the central banking system is going to make every effort to stand behind the global banking system and in particular the European banking system," Altman said. "This action would not have taken place had the central banks not been concerned about liquidity issues in the European banking system."

He said the stock markets' bullish reaction to the news Wednesday "would seem more euphoric than the realities, but the markets were looking for some ray of light and the banks provided it."