High levels of sovereign debt are causing enormous problems in Europe and elsewhere around the world right now. A few charts.
US debt: US debt levels have jumped sharply in recent years and are rapidly approaching 100%.
Worldwide debt levels as a percent of GDP: Debt levels have skyrocketed worldwide since the recession began. Many developed countries now have debt levels well above 80% of GDP. I’m not sure what the ‘right’ amount of debt is, but it is surely a whole lot less than the current levels.
Source: Chartsbin.com (if you visit their site, you will find an interactive version of this chart which is very cool)
Worldwide debt levels per capita: Debt levels per capita are growing very quickly. US per capita debt has grown by about 50% since 2007 and is projected to grow by another 50% by 2015 to give us the 2nd highest in the world.
Brookings credits IMF Fiscal Monitor, May 2010; IMF WEO, April 2010 as the sources of their data.
Brookings also has some related charts that show per capita debt per working age person in 2007, 2010, and 2015. They project about $80,000 per person in 2015. That’s a pile to have on each person’s shoulders – and this is not even actual workers, but simply people of that age range.