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MUNICH — The American business model has collapsed. During recent years, the United States borrowed gigantic sums of money from the rest of the world. Net capital imports exceeded $800 billion in 2008 alone. The money came largely from selling mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations, claims against American homeowners (or to be precise, only against the homes themselves, as the owners were protected by the nonrecourse nature of loans).

The market for such securities has now vanished. While the volume of new issues in 2006 was $1.9 trillion, the likely volume in 2009 will be just $50 billion, according to the most recent International Monetary Fund estimates. The market declined by 97 percent. No number reveals the true catastrophe of the American financial system more than this one.

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