Yes, worries about insolvency in Europe dominate the headlines. Last week, Standard & Poor's cut Spain's bond rating to BBB+ -- a clear sign that Europe's financial crisis is far from over.

But America's escalating debt problem is far more likely to precipitate a truly global crisis, because the dollar has for decades played such a central role in the world economy.

How bad is the US problem? Former Treasury official Lawrence Goodman recently pointed out that investors are shunning US bonds and notes; the lack of other buyers forced the Federal Reserve to buy "a stunning . . . 61 percent of the total net issuance of US government debt" last year. Like many others, he warns that ballooning debt puts the US economy at risk for a sharp correction.

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