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From what I understand, it wouldn't be as bad as everyone is saying. The US has been the safe bet for decades. Suddenly, we would no longer be the international currency, we would be less trustworthy. The international community would move away from the dollar, maybe to the Yuan, or a mixture of currencies. We would have a harder time trading, which would spiral us further down in recession. This wouldn't happen overnight, though.

Internally, I don't think any of the horror stories would happen. Decisions would have to be made, fast, about what spending to cut. Federal employees would probable get vouchers for awhile until things get sorted out. Lots of furloughs, but air traffic controllers and prison guards would most certainly stay employed.

By the way, this Planet Money on debt was interesting: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/07/20/138518262/the-tues... (TL;DL the US is near 100% debt to GDP, countries historically run into problems when they exceed 90%, but it's not a guaranteed outcome, and Britain reached debt to GDP rations over 250% after the war, yet still exists)




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