So rapid is the rise of the US national debt, that the last four digits of a giant digital signboard counting the moving total near New York’s Times Square move in seemingly random increments as they struggle to keep pace.
The national debt clock, as it is known, is a big clock. A spot-check last week showed a readout of 8.3 trillion — or more precisely 8,310,200,545,702 — dollars … and counting.
But it’s not big enough.
Sometime in the next two years, the total amount of US government borrowing is going to break through the 10-trillion-dollar mark and, lacking space for the extra digit such a figure would require, the clock is in danger of running itself into obsolescence.
The clock’s owner, real estate developer Douglas Durst, knew such a problem could arise but hadn’t counted on it so soon.
“We really expected it to be quite some time,” Durst told AFP. “But now, with the pace of debt growth only increasing, we’re looking at maybe two years and certainly before President (George W.) Bush leaves office in 2009.”