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Author's Note: Top 10 Countries the U.S. Owes Money To

Sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but the National Debt Clock is never going to reverse course. It is a hard fact to swallow, but the United States — like all industrialized nations — has always borrowed to pay its bills. From my research to update this article, it looks like most economists agree that the most important figure to watch is the debt-to-GDP ratio. The $16.43 trillion figure is incomprehensibly large, but that will continue to get larger. The more important question is, can the U.S. keep its economy growing faster than its debts? The Congressional Budget Office warns that current tax and spending policies will grow the national debt to 77 percent or higher over the next decade. The CBO warns that sustained high levels of debt will have "serious negative consequences," including the possibility of defaulting on interest payments. It's an unrealistic goal to stop borrowing. Instead, the focus should be on investing that borrowed cash in the right programs and people to ensure long-term economic growth. – D.R.

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