TOKYO (AP) -- The debt troubles in Greece are intensifying and, even more dangerous, spreading fear across Europe and beyond.
That is triggering talk of a potential global contagion, similar to what happened after the investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008, setting off the worst financial crisis in the United States since the 1930s and contributing to a deep global recession.
"If people get scared that Greece could default, they are going to be scared that Portugal will default and then other countries. Once people panic, they panic about everything. We saw that in the wake of the Lehman Brothers failure."
That debt buildup has occurred in the United States, which has seen its publicly held debt jump from 36 percent of the total economy in 2007, before the crisis hit, to 64 percent this year. That's the highest level since 1951, when the country was still paying off the debt run up to fight World War II.