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Planet Money

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Business, News & Politics

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Top 200 24

The economy, explained, with stories and surprises. Imagine you could call up a friend and say, "Meet me at the bar and tell me what's going on with the economy." Now imagine that's actually a fun evening. That's what we're going for at <em>Planet Money</em>. People seem to like it.

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#291: How Much Debt Is Too Much?

July 19th, 2011

Episode 393 of 911 episodes

Say you're a country with a decent-size national debt. Everything's going fine: Investors are willing to lend you money at a low interest rate, andyou can pay your bills without too much trouble. But then investors get nervous and start demanding higher interest rates. All of a sudden, you have to devote more and more of your money just to pay off your debt.Your economy starts to falter, and investors demand still higher interest rates. Now you're really in trouble.What causes this to happen? Is there some magic threshold that countries cross before they get into trouble?On today's Planet Money, we put that question to Ken Rogoff — a Harvard economist and an expert on the history of sovereign debt crises. We talk to Rogoff about three countries in particular: Greece, Italy and the U.S.

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