The Crash: Panic Grips The Globe

A crisis spotlights Washington's failures

First came a vague foreboding, a kind of free-floating anxiety. The U.S., said worriers, could not go on forever spending more than it would tax itself to pay for, buying more overseas than it could earn from foreign sales, and borrowing more abroad than it could easily repay. There had to be a day of reckoning, and it could unhinge the whole world economy. But when might it come? What form would it take? How bad might it be? No one could say, and so the forebodings could be pushed to the back of the mind.

But then, slowly at first,...