Over the last month, WEEKEND EDITION has been talking to top economists about jobs, growth, debt and taxes. But we also ask them a broader question: What is the one big idea in economics that's really caught your attention lately?
NOURIEL ROUBINI: Ideally, I would like the economists to become boring again.
On Jan. 8, 1835, all the big political names in Washington gathered to celebrate what President Andrew Jackson had just accomplished. A senator rose to make the big announcement: "Gentlemen ... the national debt ... is PAID."
That was the one time in U.S. history when the country was debt free. It lasted exactly one year.
On today's Planet Money: The legend of the national debt. Where the debt came from, what happened the one time we paid it all off, and why Congress created the debt ceiling in the first place.