For most Australians, the Howard decade has been a good time, economically at least. Real incomes have risen, unemployment has fallen, and owners of ordinary houses in suburban Sydney and Melbourne have turned into property millionaires. The rising value of the dollar and the removal of the last tariff barriers have seen shops and showrooms flooded with high-quality, low-cost imported goods. There is, of course, an elephant in the front garden: Australia's net foreign debt is now more than $53,000 a household, or a bit over twice the median disposable household income. For two of the past 10 years, Australian families have been spending money that was borrowed, not earned.