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Following his re-election, U.S. President Barack Obama almost immediately turned his attention to reining in America’s rising national debt. In fact, almost all Western countries are implementing policies aimed at reducing — or at least arresting the growth of — the volume of public debt.

In their paper “Growth in a Time of Debt,” Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart argue that, when government debt exceeds 90 percent of GDP, countries suffer slower economic growth. Many Western countries’ national debt is now dangerously near, and in some cases above, this critical threshold.

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