Sovereign debt is already (or is set to rise) above such a tipping point in the US, the UK and the eurozone. It is already more than twice that level in Japan. This means rich countries will lack a dynamic core to help them grow their way out of their debt spiral by boosting GDP. Indeed, if growth falls below the yields on their bonds, these countries will become sovereign black holes in the universe of credit, with uncontrollable upwardly spiralling debt levels.
It has been possible in the past for countries to run unsustainable fiscal arithmetic for lengthy periods. Italy did for eons. Japan has been at it for a decade. But to achieve that, a country must have high domestic savings that citizens want to keep at home in "safe" investments. The majority of government debt must be owned by domestic investors, not by foreigners. And it needs a fat excess of gross domestic savings over investment needs, which yields a current account surplus. This keeps the currency strong and makes low domestic returns look good relative to those of foreign assets.
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