The New Yorker: Could Debt Send California The Way Of Greece? :

06/05/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • James Surowiecki newyorker.com

nother year, another crisis. If we spent last year worried that big banks were going to fail, the fear of the moment is that entire governments may go under. The anxieties about "sovereign debt" have been most acute in Europe, where the infelicitously named PIIGS countries--Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain--have huge debt burdens, and where Greece in particular is in dire need of assistance. (It owes four hundred billion dollars, against an annual G.D.P. of around three hundred and forty billion and shrinking.) And now people are wondering if American state governments are headed for their own Greek tragedy. Last week, the Times suggested that the states could be plunged into a debt crisis, and the Wall Street Journal asked, "Who Will Default First: Greece or California?"

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