The most dangerous myth, and one repeated daily in much of the major media, is that these troubles on both sides of the Atlantic are a result of a “debt crisis”, and can only be resolved through fiscal tightening. The United States is not facing any public debt crisis at all, with interest payments on the debt at just 1.4% of GDP. Some eurozone countries do have a “debt crisis” – for example, Greece. But this is only because the European authorities have failed to take the necessary steps to resolve it, and have, instead, made it worse by shrinking the economy. In other words, there is no legitimate economic reason for a sovereign debt burden – even an unsustainable one – to result in years of economic stagnation and high unemployment. If the debt needs to be restructured because it is not payable, as in Greece, then that should be done as quickly as possible and with enough debt cancellation to make the resulting debt burden sustainable – as Argentina did with its successful default in 2001.
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