The World's Number 2 and 3 Economies Have a Massive Debt Problem

The Temple of Heaven in Beijing. Flickr/Trey Ratcliff

For China and Japan, there’s no clear way out.

Having had two decades to work off its debt binge, Japan has had plenty of experience in hard times and has the benefit of a relatively even distribution of income and a resilient society that has coped with greater challenges such as natural disaster. China, however, could see significant political and social upheaval if Beijing is unable to keep the good times going after having built its credibility on perpetual economic growth.

Whoever blinks first, the world has a lot riding on how these two Asian giants work out their debt issues, not least being the fact that they are also major creditors of much of the developed world.

Anthony Fensom, a Brisbane, Australia-based freelance writer and consultant with more than a decade's experience in Asia-Pacific financial/media industries. You can find him on Twitter: @a_d_fensom.

Image: The Temple of Heaven in Beijing. Flickr/Trey Ratcliff