WASHINGTON DC: An influential group of economists says the US should be more worried by the dangers of bad debt than terrorist threats.

The National Association for Business Economics says the latest survey of its members from businesses, banks and academe shows:

"The combined threat of subprime loan defaults and excessive indebtedness has supplanted terrorism and the Middle East as the biggest short-term threat to the US economy."

As recently as March, the credit issue did not even register in the survey, while terrorism was seen as the biggest threat.

However, in the NABE report for the period July 24 thru' August 14, thirty-two percent of respondents cited loan defaults by those with poor credit histories and excessive household and corporate debt as the gravest problems.

This compares with 20% who said terrorism was the biggest threat and 13% who cited energy costs.

Data sourced from news.com.au; additional content by WARC staff