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TIME: What the U.S. Debt Problem Means for the Global Economy

Author: Michael Schuman
April 19, 2011

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Michael Schuman expands the current state of the US debt crisis and suggests what it could mean for the rest of the world.

Since the time of the Founding Fathers, U.S. leaders have believed in the concept of American exceptionalism, that the U.S. is a special country with a special mission. It is a notion that continues to this day. And when it comes to the threat its deteriorating national finances present to the world economy, the U.S. is truly exceptional. That danger was finally made clear by Standard & Poor's on Monday, which changed the outlook on its U.S. sovereign rating to negative Ė in other words, the S&P is threatening to downgrade the U.S. from its traditional triple-A status. The implications of this move are incredibly far-reaching. No, it doesn't mean the U.S. in on the verge of a debt crisis. But it does mean the world can't act like an elephant isn't in the room. We've seen a debt crisis grip Europe and worries mount over the financial state of Japan. Those problems are scary enough. But when it comes to terrifying debt-crisis scenarios, the U.S. stands in a universe all its own.

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