cover image The National Debt

The National Debt

Lawrence Malkin. Henry Holt & Company, $0 (309pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-0382-6

Defining economics as ""politics with a few numbers to illuminate its ideas,'' Time economic correspondent Malkin explores in accessible, often humorous terms the reasons for the change in status, after World War II, of the U.S. from world-economy master to world creditor. Misguided politicians and economists, he charges, largely are responsible for the staggering and unprecedented national debtgovernment and personalincluding a huge debt interest, much of it owed to foreign investors, that threatens not only our own economy, trade balance and social fabric but the world's financial systems as well. He credits our former prosperity to combined government and private initiatives, and traces present conditions to the Keynesian deficit financing of the Great Society and Vietnam War during the Johnson and Nixon years, now magnified by Reagan's tax cuts, military buildup and unbridled credit-based consumerism. Comparing today's conditions with those of the 192629 boom, Malkin suggests that common sense and cooperation between public and private sectors and between nations may avoid a similar catastrophe in the future. (April 30)