US Will Be Greece in 10 Years: Walker

Uncle Sam taking money out of your wallet
Uncle Sam taking money out of your wallet

The United States is a decade away from being Greece if it fails to get on the path of fiscal responsibility, former US Comptroller General David Walker told CNBC Thursday.

“When you look at the debt held by the public—federal, state and local—we’re already worse off in the United States than Spain,” said Walker, now president and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. “We’re worse than Ireland. We’re two years away from being Portugal and 10 years ago from being Greece.”

Walker said even though investment in the dollar is now a rush-to-safety move, it’s a temporary situation. “We have more rope because we have 64 percent of the world’s global reserve currency. That gives us more time. It doesn’t mean that we’re exempt from the rules of prudent finance.”

Peter Peterson, co-founder of the private equity firm the Blackstone Group, started the foundation that bears his name two years ago to raise public awareness of the need for and the urgency concerning financial prudence in government. Peterson donated some $1 billion of his own money to start the foundation.

Walker characterized the top concerns of the American people as the two Gs—Greece and the Gulf [of Mexico oill spill].

About the Gulf, he said that Americans are upset and they think that government is “out of touch, out of control and ineffective.”

He said the Gulf situation underlines the fact that corporations are loyal to their shareholders, not to countries.

Walker said he agreed with the Tea Party movement in some ways. “They believe in limited government, individual liberty and fiscal responsibility. I agree with that,” he said. “At the same point, they don’t have enough facts, they are not talking about specifics—solutions that are sensible solutions.”

In an earlier version of this story, David Walker was erroneously called the former US Comptroller of the Currency.