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11 Oct, 2008 05:17

Nightmare on Wall Street as U.S. debt hits record high

The United States has the highest level of foreign debt in the world, which has nearly doubled during the Presidency of George W. Bush. The country’s national debt has also just reached its ultimate high.

A debt clock was put up in a New York street in 1989. Then the figure was around 2.7 trillion dollars.

Nearly 20 years later, that number has increased almost fivefold and exceeded the expectations of the clock’s designers. Just a few weeks ago, the clock ran out of space. When the figure hit 10 trillion it forced the dollar sign out of its allocated space.

A re-design is underway, with enough space for a quadrillion – a number so obscure that few could imagine what it amounts to.

Manhattan's Times Square is a favourite tourist hotspot. Now, more and more Americans come to take photos of the frightening figure – because even though the economy is taking a kicking, this clock just keeps on ticking.

Very few U.S. citizens can say they are free of the credit vice – and who can blame them? Low rates, alluring deals – and all you ever wanted, but couldn't afford, suddenly becomes possible. But this American Dream is turning into a nightmare.

Wall Street is likely to take most of the blame.
“During the age of Reagan Wall Street was immune to that kind of criticism and political attention,” says historian Steven Fraser. “Now we can see enormous widespread anger. I think in the foreseeable future Wall Street will be the object of great scrutiny, supervision, anger and suspicion.”

Fraser has been fascinated by the enigma of Wall Street for years. History repeats itself in many ways, but the scenario right now reminded him of another famous figure.

“They created a Frankenstein. Nobody knows what is going on, that’s what makes the moment so frightening,” he said.
It seems history has presented this crisis in a new light. Ever since the end of WW2, national debt decreased with every Democratic administration. After the presidency of Ronald Reagan, every Republican term has seen a steep rise in debt.

When George W Bush took office, the figure stood at 5.7 trillion dollars. But the fact that figure has nearly doubled has led to accusations he’s used the nation as an AmEx Black card. His time is about to run out, but someone else will have to pick up the tab.

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