Monday, July 7, 2008

The Debts of a Nation: Americans Eat Dessert

America is a nation built on cheap everything - cheap virgin natural resources, cheap foreign energy, cheap immigrant labor, cheap food, cheap talk, and most of alll cheap money. Too bad that world is ending.

We have home equity lines and credit cards – but the easy credit is disappearing. We have McMansions in suburbs and 2-3 cars per family – but can no longer afford the energy required to run them.

Even our eating habits harken back to a different era. Families surrendered home meals in favor of restaurants. Everything was supersized – including our population.

For too long we ignored the perils of tomorrow for the indulgences of today. Now Americans are getting their supersized desserts.

As a nation we borrow almost $3-4 billion per day. Nearly half the national debt – about $5 trillion – is owed to foreigners, most of it in the form of treasuries.

The much heralded "services" sector led by finance is in danger of complete collapse. Historically, the financial industry provided only about 10% of U.S. corporate profits. In the credit bubble, the percentage rose to 40%...and is now headed back down.

It's going to be a hard landing.