Italy Economist in Chief Mario Monti Offers Lesson for U.S.

Monti picks belt-tightening over pandering. It might work, even if he's not around to toast the results.

Mario Monti
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[Read how much the drought is hurting U.S. crops.]

However, the country provides an extreme counterexample to U.S. gridlock, showing that when economics, free from the reins of re-election efforts, guides policymaking, policy changes can more easily be made.

"To be perfectly frank with you, we could probably do with [a technocratic regime] right now," says Rehman, pointing to the massive amounts of wealth that many Americans lost as a result of the economic crisis.

Still, the more practical lessons in the European crisis are likely simpler than installing an unelected economist in the Oval Office.

"The main message that the U.S. could hear from the experience in Europe right now is that fiscal sustainability is something that has to be on the watch constantly," says Schwerdtfeger.

Danielle Kurtzleben is a business and economics reporter for U.S. News & World Report. Connect with her on Twitter at @titonka or via E-mail at dkurtzleben@usnews.com.