According to the Office of National Statistics, at the end of last year, UK gross external debt stood at ₤6.4 trillion.
Take a look at any UK financial sector database, and one overwhelming observation springs forth. It doesn't matter the sector; public or private, households or businesses, the story is always the same. The UK is drowning in debt.
Where did we pick up this corrosive culture of debt accumulation? We were not always this indolent and extravagant. Yet somewhere along the way, we lost ourselves in a mind numbing spasm of debt fuelled consumption. Now we find ourselves overwhelmed by a mountain of financial claims on our future income.
The destructive era of debt accumulation is now drawing to a close. This is the great message of the UK banking crisis. There are some, like new Labour, who are in denial. But the vast majority of us know we cannot continue spending what we do not earn. We have to stop borrowing and start repaying.