At David Stockman's Contra Corner, on the History page: America’s Bubble Empire And The Echoes Of Imperial Rome:
The characters on stage are familiar to us — consumers, economists, politicians, investors, and businessmen. They are the same hustlers, clowns, rubes, and dumbbells that we always see before us.
But in today’s performance, they are doing something extraordinary: They are the richest people on the planet, but they have come to rely on the savings of the world’s poorest people just to pay their bills.
Does it make sense that we are the richest people in the world, and yet so much in debt? Maybe, if we all lived in splendor. But we don't.
This is not the problem:
They routinely spend more than they make — and think they can continue doing so indefinitely. They go deeper and deeper in debt, believing they will never have to settle up. They buy houses and then mortgage them out — room by room, until they have almost nothing left.
Even this is not the problem:
They invade foreign countries in the belief that they are spreading freedom and democracy, and depend on lending from Communist China to pay for it.
That all comes down to nothing more than excessive spending. Oh, stick China in there, and war, and the argument starts to take on a life of its own. But prune off the emotional crap, and it all comes down to excessive spending. That is the argument. It is wrong.
Does it make sense that we are the richest people in the world, and yet so much in debt? No. So how did it happen?