Why Our Massive Debt Will Kill Us in the End

Now that the worst of the recession is over, Americans are waking up to the fact that we’re borrowing nearly $1.5 trillion per year. Instinctively, this worries us.But why?What’s really so bad about piling on debt in excess of 10% of GDP every year?Japan has been borrowing through the nose for years, and Japan, well… okay, maybe Japan’s not a good example. Japan’s economy has been in the tank for two decades.Actually, Japan’s a great example, says John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors. What’s happened in Japan in the past 20 years is that government borrowing has largely replaced private sector borrowing: The total debt hasn’t risen, but the government’s percentage of it has soared.Unlike private-sector borrowing, which is (usually) productive, government borrowing doesn’t stimulate growth, Mauldin says. This may be at least part of what’s ailing Japan. And as long as we rely on the government to borrow and spend for us, the same thing could happen here. Our economy could become dominated by a huge, inefficient bureaucracy instead of lean, competitive private-sector companies.And that’s the good outcome. The bad outcome is that China and other countries finally get sick of lending us money at rock-bottom interest rates and start demanding real compensation. If that happens, interest rates could soar, stopping the economy in its tracks.

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