Meredith Whitney, who predicted the global financial meltdown, is now saying that the next credit crisis that threatens financial stability is at the local levels - cities with crushing debt burdens that may cause a rain of defaults:
Meredith Whitney, the US research analyst who correctly predicted the global credit crunch, described local and state debt as the biggest problem facing the US economy, and one that could derail its recovery.
"Next to housing this is the single most important issue in the US and certainly the biggest threat to the US economy," Whitney told the CBS 60 Minutes programme on Sunday night.
"There's not a doubt on my mind that you will see a spate of municipal bond defaults. You can see fifty to a hundred sizeable defaults - more. This will amount to hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of defaults."
New Jersey governor Chris Christie summarised the problem succinctly: "We spent too much on everything. We spent money we didn't have. We borrowed money just crazily. The credit card's maxed out, and it's over. We now have to get to the business of climbing out of the hole. We've been digging it for a decade or more. We've got to climb now, and a climb is harder."
Cities are already having trouble paying for basic services like trash collection. Just how bad is the hole Governor Christie is talking about?
US states have spent nearly half a trillion dollars more than they have collected in taxes, and face a $1tn hole in their pension funds, said the CBS programme, apocalyptically titled The Day of Reckoning.
Detroit is cutting police, lighting, road repairs and cleaning services affecting as much as 20% of the population. The city, which has been on the skids for almost two decades with the decline of the US auto industry, does not generate enough wealth to maintain services for its 900,000 inhabitants.
You can watch and read the "60 Minutes" report here.