The current economic crisis in America has raised the issue of American's personal debt and the drive to consume. American's have a massive amount of debt in the form of credit cards, car loans, and home mortgages. The recent economic collapse is basically the economic nature's way of correcting itself, a "deleveraging".
Japanese have long been known as relatively miserly savers. Although Japan is the second largest economy behind the United States and Japanese people love their fancy cell phones and Gucci bags, they cannot really be compared to American's when it comes to consumerism. The average Japanese citizen saves a much larger percentage of their income. American's love to buy big fancy cars merely to "show off". How else do you explain the legions of single people with a dog driving around in huge SUVs?
However, I recently thought of something regarding Japanese debt. The idea that the Japanese are great savers is really somewhat of a myth. The reason. The Japanese people have merely transferred their spending and consumerism to the Japanese Government. The Japanese Government currently has one of the largest per capita national debts of any nation on Earth, including the United States.
Japan's national debt is a mind boggling 170% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Only Zimbabwe has a higher percentage. The percentage of national debt to GDP for the United States is 60%, number 22 on the list. Japan's economic future and the standard of living for its citizens will be severely constrained if the national debt is not drastically reduced.
National debt information source: CIA Factbook