Contributed by Valentin Mândrăşescu, Editor of Reality Check @ The Voice of Russia: The status of the US dollar as the world reserve currency gives the US tremendous advantages. Among them: it allows the Fed to export inflation, while the Federal Government can run a huge deficit with impunity. But now an angry Russia has had enough!
Entries in Debtor Nation (67)
During their second term, Presidents become obsessed with “legacy.” One of the yardsticks to measure success is the stock market. Many people can relate to it. Retirement depends on it. It’s mentioned even on NPR several times a day. Outside of a few shorts, everyone wants it to go up. But President Obama must now be biting his fingernails down to the quick.
Contributed by Maudlin Economics: Excellent essay by John Maudlin on the heated debate over the correlation between debt and GDP growth, and the fundamental conclusion by Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart that debt is not a problem until it becomes one – the “Bang! moment.” Followed by the Rogoff and Reinhart paper itself!
On paper, Apple has no reason to borrow. Last time it issued bonds was in 1996 when it flirted with bankruptcy and absolutely had to get its hands on some moolah. After Steve Jobs returned in 1997, Apple wisely stayed away from Wall Street and did its own thing. But that era is over. And a new era is dawning upon the icon: Wall-Street engineering.
Contributed by Chriss Street: Since 2008, 2.2 million jobs have been lost among the 25-54 year olds, even as their numbers grew by over 3 million. Young people who thought they’d scrimp by until they “moved up” now expect to never have a decent life and are trying to adapt to their new reality. Since 2008, America seems to have failed many Americans.
I’ve been a fan of David Stockman ever since he got in trouble for speaking the truth as Budget Director under President Reagan. But his new book, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America—what an awesome romp through the economic, financial, and monetary shenanigans of our times!
Contributed by Chriss Street. The SEC determined that Illinois violated Federal Securities Laws by misstating the financial condition of its depleted pension funds when it sold $2.2 billion in bonds from 2005-2009. After a historical failure to fund the pension systems, it exposed the State to an $83 billion unfunded liability. Former Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich was unable to comment. He was in prison.
Now that the “sequester” is in effect, horrid budget cuts would hit the US. 750,000 people would lose their jobs, planes would stop flying, children would go hungry, the Navy would no longer be able to operate its ships, according to the media. Fear-mongering that the White House drove to shameless heights. But suddenly, furious backpedalling has commenced.
Contributed by Chriss Street. Michigan took control of Detroit on March 1st by appointing the equivalent of a bankruptcy trustee. Detroit committed municipal suicide through crony capitalism and union feather-bedding; it refused to cut spending and balance its budget. Perhaps Detroit’s downfall prods Congress to get serious about cutting federal spending.
That state and local government pension funds are going broke isn’t a new problem. That it’s much worse than reported by those pension funds isn’t a new problem either. Last June, Moody’s determined that the already dizzying unfunded pension liabilities were actually three times higher than reported. To top it off, trustees are blowing a bunch of retiree money on an exotic boondoggle.
“Preventing future acts of terrorism” is the most critical foreign-policy goal for Americans. Next: proliferation of nuclear weapons, energy supply, trade policies, etc. Fighting off Soviet tanks rumbling towards Frankfurt didn’t make the list. Yet Congress, in its infinite wisdom, is still pushing weapons designed to do just that, whether the Pentagon wants them or not.
Last year, the government extracted $1.1 trillion in taxes from us individual taxpayers. But now it will pay, along with the states, $429 million of our taxes to the coolest Silicon-Valley beauty queen: Facebook. In net tax refunds! Part of a vast package of juicy corporate welfare programs. Facebook isn’t just hogging our data; it’s gobbling up our money.
Despite optimism-mongering in the media, in certain quarters of Washington, and elsewhere, we’ve had indication after indication in the economic data that American workers have not benefited from whatever lousy progress has been made in nudging up GDP. But now we know from the horse’s mouth: they’re mired in a tough new reality that is getting worse.
Contributed by Chriss Street. With the average cost of attending college in America at $120,000, a family of four should expect their children’s college to cost more than a home. Yet, optimism about the value of education provided justification for students to borrow $42 billion from the US this year. And many of them will end up as student-loan debt slaves.
Contributed by Chriss Street. The Left’s premier economists blamed the “Great Recession” on the failures of capitalism and championed massive “government investment” as the medicine to revive growth. But after $6.2 trillion of deficit-spending and the worst recovery in US history, these academic geniuses are desperate to shift the narrative.
Contributed by Lee Adler, The Wall Street Examiner. The Fed decided to print $45 billion a month via purchases of Treasuries. In addition to the $40 billion it's printing via MBS purchases. And it will reinvest the proceeds of maturing MBS, $35-$40 billion. So $120 billion a month! And it might have created a nightmare scenario.
The staged posturing with its tragic-funny theatrics and lurid special effects in Washington about the Fiscal Cliff—and whether to fall off, jump off, fly off, dive off, climb down, or somehow avoid it altogether—has become an inescapable media reality, much like Y2K once was. I remember well the worldwide letdown on January 1, 2000.
Career Education, when it reported its quarterly results, shed light on an industry that had ruthlessly taken advantage of the American way of funding higher education, and that had preyed on gullible prospective students who were trying to better their lives. Then it handed the tab to the taxpayer. A perfect scam. Now the industry is in a vise between government crack-downs and reluctant students.
Contributed by Dan Steinhart, Casey Research. The US has too much debt. This is no longer a controversial statement. Some may believe other problems are more urgent, or that we need to grow our way out rather than slash spending. But even the most spendthrift pundits acknowledge that the debt-to-GDP ratio of the US must decrease if we are to have a stable, prosperous economy.
Contributed by Chriss Street. 80 million “baby-boomers,” born between 1946 and 1964, moved out of their peak spending years. The U.S. government over the last five years squandered $7.6 trillion on Keynesian demand-side stimulus to resuscitate this demographically shrinking demand. But with only 23 million born between 1995 and 2012, “Generation Z” is too small for demand-side stimulus to revive the economy.