Forget Greece. Or at least put Greece to one side: the real financial disaster waiting to happen is on the other side of the Atlantic. It is a disaster born of self delusion, in a nation that prides itself on plain speaking and openness.
There is much to be celebrated in the United States. They have Osama bin Laden's scalp. They have a vibrant and open political system. The things, material and intellectual, that people want and admire still tend to be American.
But they (and we) face a huge looming crisis. It transcends politics and political candidates – it is much bigger than Michele Bachmann's hair or Barack Obama's thesaurus – and sometime soon they are going to have to face it.
It's the debt.
America's federal government debt is growing at $40,000 per second. It has reached $14 trillion, whatever that means. More comprehensible perhaps is this fact: the debt will soon match the entire GDP of the United States. Outside wartime, that has never happened before.
Even the savings implied last week in the surge home of US troops from Afghanistan, count for little more than a drop - a splash, perhaps - in this ocean of debt.
The real issue is the future of America's domestic spending.
The projections are appalling: the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office thinks that by 2030 interest payments plus spending on pensions and health will take up all the government's tax income. Everything else, from education to war-fighting, will have to be borrowed for. Or cut out.
The thought should send shivers down all our spines.
A nation whose productive capacity, whose support of economic and political freedom plays such a big part in our world could be heading for a period of poverty and introspection.
And the poverty could come quite suddenly – brought on by interest rate rises forced on America by world markets, or by foreign powers selling dollar bonds.
While making my BBC Radio Four documentary Analysis: America's Debt I asked Richard Haass, of the Council on Foreign Relations think tank, whether the fiscal crisis might allow the US to be blackmailed.
His answer: "Yes, and it is ironic that question would come from someone with your accent. What it brings to mind is 1956... when the US and the Eisenhower administration disagreed profoundly with the British, French and Israeli tri-partite decision over invading Suez.
"Essentially the US took advantage of Britain's sterling problem to exercise some economic leverage over the British government, and that led to a hasty retreat.
"So one can imagine a situation nowadays, where say there is a crisis over Taiwan between the US and China - which holds a significant number of dollars - and one can imagine the Chinese might be prepared to threaten the dollar, make some comments to weaken it unless the US backs off some of its support of Taiwan."
So what is to be done?
Here is where it gets really tricky. The problem is not primarily economic. Nor is it entirely political. It is wider, deeper: it is a failing at the most basic level of culture.
Americans, it seems to me, have allowed themselves to become fundamentally deluded about the kind of people they are.
Look at Alaska.
The Pulitzer prize-winning author Anne Applebaum tells me in the documentary that Alaska is a myth. People who live there (encouraged by a famous former governor) imagine that it is the last frontier where rugged all-American individualists grapple with snow and bears and protected only by their guns, come out on top.
In fact Alaska is the most heavily subsidised state in the Union. Social spending and tax breaks are huge – Alaska sucks hard on the teat of the state.
For Alaska, read America.
Americans have a weird inability to see themselves for what they are: deeply involved with the federal government and deeply dependent on it. The myth obfuscates and befuddles. It allows Americans – including the Tea Party movement – to have wonderfully vivid rows about public spending and tax but never really to confront the reality that taxes (my taxes!) are going to have to rise and spending on health and pensions (my health, my pension!) is going to have to be cut.
The Republicans have had a go at it recently – encouraged by the Tea Party folks – but came a horrible cropper in a by-election for a previously safe New York State congressional seat where their voters simply melted away after hearing that their entitlements might be cut.
Americans like to blame their politicians for the mess but the fault, frankly, is with the people. They will not give up their national delusion. How does it end?
Richard Haass invokes Churchill: Americans will do the right thing but only after all other options are explored. Who am I to argue with Haass and Churchill combined? But it is fair to say that they are leaving it rather late.