As mounting debt threatens the stability and growth of the United States and the European Union, both economies have developed new steps to deal with their respective crises.

Because of low growth and high debts and deficits, EU members like Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Italy have required bailouts, making investments in these countries more risky and resulting in rounds of debt downgrades for each nation.

Recently, EU leaders agreed on a plan that would increase the size of a new bailout and forgive half of Greece's debt. In exchange, Greece will accept new austerity measures, such as tax increases and cuts to benefits.

Whether this proposal will be enough to put various in-crisis countries on more stable footing depends on the short-term gross domestic product, GDP, of countries like Greece.

"If GDP shrinks, it means that the payment that they get will become smaller and smaller," said Vitaliy Strohush, assistant professor of economics at Elon University. "It means maybe you have to give more money to Greece, so it is possible that they will need more bailout."

The United States is vulnerable to European debt, as many U.S. money-market funds hold European debt bonds.

"There is some exposure to U.S. banks of European debt, but I don't believe this is going to be a big issue, even if some of the countries collapse, in terms of the debt holding," Strohush said.

While the EU has been working to control debt in its member nations, President Barack Obama recently announced two plans to deal with Americans' mortgages and student loan debt.

Obama's plan for student debt expands on pre-existing programs to annul student loans after 20 years of payments as well as letting those with student debt refinance and receive lowered interest rates.

The president's plan for reigning in mortgages is an expansion of a previous program that helped homeowners with federally backed mortgages. This expansion eliminates the debt-to-value limit the program originally had, so homeowners who have made consistent payments can refinance, no matter how much they owe.

"In the Great Depression, similar problem, the government set up a corporation to take over loans and did the same basic thing, it lowered interest payments, and basically it was people refinancing," said Steve DeLoach, professor of economics. "They were dealing with the same kind of problems, everyone's got into a lot of debt."

Measures to lower individual debts in the country are critical to the United States' overall recovery. A quarter of homeowners have a greater mortgage than they do home value, and data from the New York Federal Reserve suggests that this year, student debt will surpass credit card loans as the greatest form of personal debt in the nation.

"Consumers haven't been too excited to spend money in the last couple years, so the fastest way to get the economy going again is to get consumers spending," DeLoach said. "Consumer spending is 70 percent of the economy, and when wealth drops, they spend less. About 40 percent of consumer wealth is tied up in your house."

While the impact of mortgage and student debt on the American economy can be more easily tackled, it is difficult to tell how a slow-to-recover United States will impact the growth of European nations. "Maybe there is more uncertainty among the banks, and maybe they wouldn't give out loans in Europe to firms that might hire more workers," Strohush said.

But if the personal debt situation in the United States gets much worse, this could create a bad climate for European banks.

"The debt level can affect overall uncertainty, so if there's a boom in debt here, uncertainty would be high in Europe," Strohush said.