Over The Ears in Debt

TIME's Board of Economists warns of the dangers of too much borrowing

The obligations have been piling up for years in almost every cranny of the U.S. economy: Treasury bonds, corporate securities, household mortgages, consumer credit-card slips. Taken together, all the promissory pieces of paper have had a magical ability to help sustain one of the longest periods of economic growth in U.S. history. But as that expansion moves well into its 18th quarter, fears are rising about how long the magic can last. Suddenly, alarms are sounding louder than ever that those handy piles of debt are taking on the messy proportions of a potential crisis. Individuals, corporations and even Uncle Sam...

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