Fighting over Detroit's carcass

Detroit owes $US18.2 billion to its residents in pensions and bonds and can't pay. Judge Steven Rhodes has to decide whether the city can default and it will set a monumental precedent.

Driving around some parts of Detroit can feel almost apocalyptic. Once home of Motown, the big three US car manufacturers and almost 1.8 million people, many communities now lay abandoned, homes burnt out and only 700,000 people remain.

In July, Detroit became the largest US city to file for bankruptcy. It owes $US18.2 billion in long-term debt, or $27,000 for each resident. About $US9.2 billion of the shortfall is in unfunded pension liabilities.

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