A 747 has four engines -- if one sputters or shuts down, the plane doesn't crash. But there will be more pressure to perform on the other engines to keep the plane flying.
Think of the world economy in a similar way. There are four engines to the world economy: 1) North America; 2) Europe; 3) Asia; and 4) the emerging markets. Right now, one engine, Europe, is suffering and is close to shutting down. This is putting severe pressure on the other engines to perform and due to the systemic nature of trade by it slowing down it is economically hurting the other engines.
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Another engine, North America, due to its own policies and spending habits, is suffering as well, but nowhere close to what is happening in Europe. (However, North America might not be far behind). Canada is helping to keep this engine functioning but the trend is weak and getting weaker.
The Asia engine is working fine but certainly slowing from where it was, but it is the "star" engine.
And finally, the emerging market engine is running well and has been for some time. However, this engine is highly volatile and moves very much in sync with commodity prices. Commodity prices go up or down frequently in relation to how the other engines are performing.
As the other engines slow, commodity prices tend to drop due to simple supply and demand.
As the world economy tries to keep flying, it is important for everyone to realize that what happens around the world has a direct impact on your investments and your income. We watch events unfold daily from around the world on television and often times we find it entertaining and interesting (depending on the event). However, as you watch the events in Europe unfold, realize that it has a major impact on the world economy and therefore has a major impact on your lives.
These four engines need a lot of work and might be in the repair hanger for a while. Asia and the emerging market engines should be fixed and running well soon. But the other two engines, need a major overhaul that is going to take years and very skilled workers to fix.