From "The Economic Black Hole," by Lester C. Thurow and Laura D'Andrea Tyson, in the summer issue of Foreign Policy:

The rising U.S. trade deficit and the buildup of America's foreign debt have become to the world economy what a black hole is to the universe. In a black hole, the entire structure and behavior of matter changes. So, too, is the case with its economic counterpart. The longer huge trade deficits persist and debt accumulates, the larger will be the ultimate burden on future American living standards and the more far-reaching and unpredictable will be the changes in the trading structures of the world's economies. Left unchecked, the current situation threatens to precipitate a worldwide recession and massive economic dislocation.

Unlike black holes in space, however, the economic one results not from forces of nature, but from misguided policy choices by the United States and its trading partners in the 1980s. Even if the United States and other Western industrial countries pursue the best policies available to redress those errors -- and as a consequence manage to raise their growth rates, reduce U.S. fiscal deficit, ease Third World debt and strengthen U.S. competitiveness -- the problems facing America will still be far from over. Servicing the U.S. debt will require a substantial transfer of resources to other countries that otherwise would have been available domestically. Inevitably, U.S. living standards will decline relative to what they would have been without the ballooning debt and relative to those of U.S. trading partners. . . .

No country, not even one wielding the financial might of the United States, can sustain an ever increasing debt, because no lender . . . has the willingness to lend increasing amounts indefinitely.