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America’s Fiscal Follies Are Dangerously in the Red

The Congressional Budget Office has recently issued a federal “Budget Outlook Update” for the next ten years in the context of the government’s fiscal condition in the face of the coronavirus and Washington’s spending spree. The message: the deficit for fiscal year 2020 is huge, and the national debt is getting bigger, faster than had been projected before America’s lockdowns that brought much of the economy to a halt.

Normally, serious recessionary downturns are the result of central bank monetary mismanagement that generates unsustainable investment and housing booms and bubbles through money, credit and interest rate manipulation. Eventually, the credit expansion house of cards comes tumbling down as various sectors of the economy discover the need for a rebalancing of resource, labor, and capital uses in the face of numerous mismatches between supplies and demands.

The Government Directly Caused the Downturn of 2020

There were many signs that ten years of nearly zero interest rates and a large expansion of bank credit were setting the stage for an eventual “correction” in the economy. However “inevitable” this might have been at some point, there was no indication at the beginning of 2020 that a serious recession was on the immediate horizon. No, what happened in the first half of 2020 had one source and cause only – the coercive commands of the federal and the state governments ordering people to stay at home, limit their shopping trips to politically-approved “essentials,” and not to go to work, as all part of a counterproductive and damaging attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Instead, its most important outcome was to wreak havoc on not just the U.S. economy, but much of the world’s economy, as well, as most other governments imposed similar compulsory clampdowns on the citizens of their countries.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Book Review: The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy

In January, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its Budget and Economic outlook for 2020 to 2030. It is horrific reading. Federal budget deficits are projected to rise from $1.0 trillion this year to $1.3 trillion over the next 10 years.

Federal debt will rise to 98% of GDP by 2030, “its highest percentage since 1946,” the CBO says. “By 2050, debt would be 180% of GDP—far higher than it has ever been.” And that was before Covid-19 hit. Now those numbers will be much, much worse.

On top of this, politicians have been announcing grand schemes for further spending: $47 billion on free college tuition, $1 trillion for new infrastructure, $1.4 trillion to write off student loan debt, at least $7 trillion on the Green New Deal and $32 trillion on Medicare for All. By one estimate, these new proposals total an estimated $42.5 trillion over the next decade.

Adding these new spending proposals to the flood of red ink the CBO projects just from following the current path, the federal government is set to face a serious fiscal crisis in the not-too-distant future.

KEEP PRINTING

Or, perhaps not. There is an idea afoot in economics that, as Bernie Sanders’ former economic advisor Stephanie Kelton argues in her new book The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy, could revolutionize the field in the same way that Copernicus did to astronomy by showing that the earth orbited the sun.

Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) states that “in almost all instances federal deficits are good for the economy. They are necessary.” That being so, we don’t have to worry about this coming deluge of red ink, indeed:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Debts and Deficits are Out of Control

Debts and Deficits are Out of Control


Understandably, the problems and politics of the moment dominate the news and attract the attention of most policy commentators and much of the public. Will there be another government shutdown, will House Democrats attempt to impeach the president, will interest rates remain low, and will there be a trade war with China? But there are longer-term problems as well, and one of them is the rising U.S. national debt due to annual government budget deficits as far into the future as the eye can see.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently issued its latest “Budget and Economic Outlook”projection, covering the next decade, 2019-29. And it is not a pretty picture. As of the beginning of February 2019, the cumulative federal government debt is approaching $22 trillion. This comes out to a per capita burden of nearly $67,000 for all those residing in the United States, and about $179,500 per U.S. taxpayer.

The CBO predicts that between 2019 and 2029, the government’s gross national debt will increase to almost $33.7 trillion because of annual budget deficits that beginning in the years immediately ahead will be over $1 trillion a year all the way to 2029 and will continue that way for every year after that to 2049 in the CBO’s much longer-term forecast. 

Not that the Congressional Budget Office’s projections will be right on target. The report admits that the agency has been wrong in its past forecasts. But virtually always its error has been to underestimate the growth in the federal government’s deficits and debt. So, if its track record follows form, when 2029 rolls around and the coming 10 years are looked back on, the national-debt problem may very well be noticeably worse than the CBO is currently anticipating.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

U.S. Debt Worries Fed Chairman Powell – Fears May Be Confirmed in March

U.S. Debt Worries Fed Chairman Powell – Fears May Be Confirmed in March

us debt worries

As we enter 2019, the U.S. national debt continues to grow, approaching $22 trillion with global Government debt sitting at $72 trillion.

It seems like the 21st century is hitting the U.S. with a debt “haymaker,” according to CNBC (emphasis ours):

U.S. debt began accelerating at the turn of the 21st century. The total jumped 85 percent to $10.6 trillion during former President George W. Bush’s two terms, another 88 percent to $19.9 trillion under President Barack Obama and has risen 10 percent during the first two years of President Donald Trump’s term.

And even though the U.S. economy may be growing, the sustained annual deficit exceeds $1 trillion. This is concerning economists, including Chairman Powell:

I’m very worried about it… It’s a long-run issue that we definitely need to face, and ultimately, will have no choice but to face.

If a recession hits (and signals are potentially pointing towards one), then having that amount of sustained deficit could be devastating.

And since the Fed is partially responsible for creating this debt problem, it seems odd for Powell to call it a “long-run” issue when it’s more of a “right-now” issue.

According to a recent CNBC article, normally when the deficit is expanding, the “Fed would be lowering rates”. But they aren’t. In fact, rates have been on a steady rise for the last few years.

At the global level, the picture isn’t much better. Debt has reached record levels, double what it was in 2007.

This is “leaving many countries poorly positioned for financial tightening as global interest rates begin to move higher,” says James McCormack, Fitch’s global head of sovereign ratings, in a statement.

Powell and other economists have every right to be concerned, because both debt and deficit spending may be spiraling out of control.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trump Administration on Track for $1 Trillion Budget Deficit This Year

Trump Administration on Track for $1 Trillion Budget Deficit This Year

The Trump administration is on track to post a 2019 fiscal year budget deficit of over $1 trillion. These are the kind of budget deficits we would expect to see during a deep recession, not an “economic boom.”

The government got off to a good start at achieving this illustrious achievement last month. According to the Treasury Department report, the deficit came in at $100.5 billion in October. That represents a 58 percent increase from the $63 billion deficit recorded in October 2017. Spending rose 18 percent year-on-year. Revenues only increased by 7 percent.The month-on-month increase was impacted by a quirk in the calendar. Total outlays were much higher this October compared to last year because Social Security payments for October 2017 went out in September due to Oct. 1 falling on the weekend. Nevertheless, we should have seen a decrease in this year’s September outlays compared to last year and that didn’t happen. The September 2018 deficit was significantly bigger (119.116) than September 2017 ($7.886 billion) even without the October Social Security payments falling in September this year. The bottom line is spending is going up year-over-year.

Spending last month continued the pace of the last fiscal year. The federal government ended 2018 with the largest budget deficit since 2012. Uncle Sam ended 2018 $779 billion in the red, adding to the ballooning national debt. The CBO forecast this year’s deficit will come in close to $1 trillion. The current Treasury Department estimate projects a total fiscal 2019 deficit over the $1 trillion mark, coming in at $1.085 trillion.

The national debt expanded by more than $1 trillion in fiscal 2018. It currently stands at over $21.7 trillion. According to data released by the Treasury Department, fiscal 2018 gave us the sixth-largest fiscal-year debt increase in the history of the United States. (If you’re wondering how the debt can grow by a larger number than the annual deficit, economist Mark Brandly explains here.)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Economic Consequences Of Debt

The Economic Consequences Of Debt

Not surprisingly, my recent article on “The Important Role Of Recessions” led to more than just a bit of debate on why “this time is different.” The running theme in the debate was that debt really isn’t an issue as long as our neighbors are willing to support continued fiscal largesse.

As I have pointed out previously, the U.S. is currently running a nearly $1 Trillion dollar deficit during an economic expansion. This is completely contrary to the Keynesian economic theory.

Keynes contended that ‘a general glut would occur when aggregate demand for goods was insufficient, leading to an economic downturn resulting in losses of potential output due to unnecessarily high unemployment, which results from the defensive (or reactive) decisions of the producers.’  In other words, when there is a lack of demand from consumers due to high unemployment, the contraction in demand would force producers to take defensive actions to reduce output.

In such a situation, Keynesian economics states that government policies could be used to increase aggregate demand, thus increasing economic activity, and reducing unemployment and deflation.  

Investment by government injects income, which results in more spending in the general economy, which in turn stimulates more production and investment involving still more income and spending and so forth. The initial stimulation starts a cascade of events, whose total increase in economic activity is a multiple of the original investment.”

Of course, with the government already running a massive deficit, and expected to issue another $1.5 Trillion in debt during the next fiscal year, the efficacy of “deficit spending” in terms of its impact to economic growth has been greatly marginalized.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Nation’s Fiscal Doomsday Machine is Now Unstoppable

The Nation’s Fiscal Doomsday Machine is Now Unstoppable

Earlier this year the Donald provoked a bleep-hole moment per the Fox “family channel” or what was otherwise known as the shit-hole moment across the rest of the MSM.

But whatever you called the contretemps spurred by the president’s crude utterance with regard to certain countries domiciled on the African continent, the claim this was evidence that he’s an incorrigible racist was risible. Actually, we already knew that the Donald is a semi-literate bully, who never got (read) the memo on racial comity—to say nothing of political correctness.

Still, there is a not inconsiderable share of Washington’s preening, self-important ruling class that indulges in that very same kind of gutter talk on a regular basis when puffing their chests and marking the objects of their displeasure. That’s why the shaming chorus which sprung up from all corners of the Swamp was enough to give hypocrisy a bad name.

But if we have to have a shaming of politicians, there is a far better reason for it than that unfortunate presidential slur.

To wit, Trump and the GOP deserve everlasting ignominy for literally shit-canning fiscal rectitude. So doing, they have completely abandoned the GOP’s fundamental reason for being— watch-dogging the US Treasury—in favor of immigrant-bashing, border hysteria and what boils down to crude nativism by any other name.

You do not drain the Swamp and shackle Leviathan, however, by obsessing on and demogoguing about a non-problem that requires muscling up the state’s internal control apparatus and wasting tens of billions more on Mexican Walls, border enforcement armies and deportation dragnets across the length and breadth of the land.

The fact is, five pro-liberty and pro-free market steps would make the whole trumped up border “invasion” bunkum and balderdash go away in a heartbeat. These would include:
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Mike Maloney: “One Hell Of A Crisis”

Mike Maloney: “One Hell Of A Crisis”

Crashing stocks, bonds, real estate & currency all at once?

Mike Maloney, monetary historian and founder of GoldSilver.com, has just released two new chapters of his excellent Hidden Secrets Of Money video series.

In producing the series, Maloney has reviewed several thousand years of monetary history and has observed that government intervention and mismanagement — such as is now rampant across the world — has alwaysresulted in the diminishment and eventual failure of currency systems.

As for the world’s current fiat currency regimes, Mike sees a reckoning approaching. One that will be preceded by massive losses rippling across nearly all asset classes, destroying the phantom wealth created during the latest central bank-induced Everything Bubble, and grinding the global economy to a halt:

Gold and silver are tremendously undervalued right now, and I dare you to try to find another asset that is tremendously undervalued. There just is not. By all measures, everything is just in these hyper-bubbles. OK, real estate is not quite a hyper-bubble; it’s not quite as big as 2005 and 2006, but by all measures, it’s back into a bubble. But now, we’ve got the bond bubble, the biggest debt bubble in the world. These are all going to pop.

We had a stock market crash in the year 2000, and then in 2008, we had a crash in stocks and real estate. The next crash is going to be in stocks, real estate and bonds — including a lot of sovereign debt, corporate bonds and a whole lot of other bonds that will be crashing at the same time. So, it will be all of the standard financial asset classes, including the traditional ‘safe haven’ of bonds that are going to be crashing at the same time that the world monetary system is falling apart.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Soaring Deficits and Interest Costs Leave the U.S. Looking Very Fragile

Soaring Deficits and Interest Costs Leave the U.S. Looking Very Fragile

If you take a step back and look at the macro picture of the U.S. economy – it resembles a huge, upside-down, glass pyramid.

Constantly teetering back and forth – struggling with everything it has to keep from collapsing.

And so far – it’s done a good job maintaining its balance. But nonetheless, it’s extremely fragile. And gets more so as each day passes by.

All it needs is a slight push in the any direction and down it goes – shattering into pieces. . .

It’s not hard to see that the ever-growing U.S. deficits – along with the soaring interest costs on the National debt – are going to be the focal point of a worldwide crisis.

Especially over the next few years. . .

To start – the U.S. deficit almost eclipsed $800 billion for the entire fiscal year (which ended September 2018) – a 17% year-over-year increase.

And it’s the largest deficit the U.S. has had in six years.

“Hold up – isn’t the economy doing well? Why’s the deficit soaring?”

See – That’s the problem.

The U.S. is borrowing at levels not seen since the direct aftermath of 2008. When the economy was in shambles.

As usual – government spending greatly outpaced revenue.

U.S. Treasury ‘outlays’ (spending) increased $127 billion compared to government ‘receipts’ (income) of only $14 billion.

That’s a $113 billion more than last year’s deficit.

The main causes for the increased deficit was because of Trump’s Tax Cuts (which brought in less federal revenue). And from soaring spending – which came from Defense/Military, as well as Medicaid, Social Security, and Disaster Relief.

It doesn’t look good – does it. But here’s the worst part – things are only going to get worse going forward.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently published, ‘The 2018 Long-Term Budget Outlook at a Glance’ white paper.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Peter Schiff Explains “What Happens Next” In 47 Words

Outspoken critic of The Fed and one of the few that can see through the endless barrage of bullshit to how this really ends, has laid out in a tweet “what happens next”…

Likely sequence of events:

1. Bear market;

2. Recession;

3. Deficits explode;

4. Return of ZIRP and QE;

5. Dollar tanks;

6. Gold soars;

7. CPI spikes;

8. Long-term rates rise;

9. Fed. forced to hike rates during recession

10. A financial crisis without stimulus or bailouts!

h/t @PeterSchiff

The Fed’s Not Backing Off: Powell’s Standouts & Zingers at the Press Conference

The Fed’s Not Backing Off: Powell’s Standouts & Zingers at the Press Conference

US is “on an unsustainable fiscal path, there’s no hiding from it.”

I have to say, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is a breath of fresh air when he talks, after the near-physical pain I experienced listening to his last three predecessors. I actually get what he is saying, even if it’s a little twisted. I can make out his veiled disdain for fancy but dubious economic theories and iffy forecasts. And I get to look forward to some zingers when I least expect them – such as at today’s press conference, when he valiantly defended the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, core PCE, by saying that it “tends to run a little lower, but that’s not why we pick it.”

About that wildly ballooning federal deficit:

Even though the question came at the end of the press conference, I’m pulling it to the top because it’s so important. Asked if fiscal policy – the ballooning deficit, after tax cuts and spending increases – comes up a lot at FOMC meetings, he said:

“It doesn’t really come up. It’s not really our job…. We don’t have responsibility for fiscal policy. But in the longer run, fiscal policy will have a significant impact on the economy, so for that reason, I think, my predecessors have commented on fiscal policy, but they have commented on it at a high level rather than trying to get involved in particular measures.

“My plan is to stick to the same approach, and stay in our lane. So I would just say, it’s no secret, it’s been true for a long time, that with our uniquely expensive healthcare delivery system and the aging of our population, we’ve been on an unsustainable fiscal path for a long time. And there is no hiding from it, and we will have to face that, and I think the sooner the better.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

America The Insolvent

Satansgoalie

America The Insolvent

A reckoning is due. One the elites are already readying for.

Watching the world these days, I’m experiencing the same fury that rises up from my gut when the driver in the car ahead me is weaving drunkenly, endangering everyone on the road.

Fury is a normal and rational human response when threatened with unnecessary harm. Women who are groped (or worse) by a disgusting predator like Harvey Weinstein, pensioners whose funds are stolen by Wall Street shysters, everyone who is being fleeced by corporations in search of a few extra dollars this quarter —  all have the right to be infuriated.

It’s been especially hard of late for those of us who are “reality”-based; who value data, fundamentals and historical context.

I earn my living by reading, analyzing and making sense of the world, and then working to help orient people’s actions to align with both the current reality and future probabilities. But that’s become pretty damn difficult in a world where the financial markets are rigged and the main news outlets are unwilling (unable?) to cover the real issues, preferring instead to focus on distractions that mainly serve to keep us isolated and divided.

The trajectory our global society is on will not end well, and that infuraties me. And the fact that most of the coming suffering is unnecessary if only we’d make better choices — that really pisses me off.

Here’s just a small smattering of the threats we’ve created for ourselves:

  1. $247 trillion of global debt, growing exponentially
  2. Off-budget liabilities well over a quadrillion dollars globally ($220+ trillion in the US alone)
  3. Massively underfunded pensions mathematically unable to meet their future obligations
  4. A coming peak in world oil supply somewhere between 2020-2030 (and around 2022 for the US)
  5. A global economy that requires perpetual growth, but can’t grow for much longer due to planetary resource constraints

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Chasing the Wind

Chasing the Wind

Futility with Purpose

Plebeians generally ignore the tact of their economic central planners.  They care more that their meatloaf is hot and their suds are cold, than about any plans being hatched in the capital city.  Nonetheless, the central planners know an angry mob, with torches and pitchforks, are only a few empty bellies away.  Hence, they must always stay on point.

Watch for those pitchfork bearers – they can get real nasty and then heads often roll quite literally. [PT]

One of the central aims of central planners is to achieve effective public exhortation.  While they pursue futility, in practice.  They must do so with focus and purpose.

For example, economic reports with impressive tables and charts, including pie graphs, are important to maintaining the requisite public perception.  Central planners know that financial scientism must always be employed as early and often as possible.

Statistics, with per annum projections, particularly those that show increasing exports and decreasing imports, are critical to maintaining the proper narrative.  The USA’s embarrassing deficit in the balance of international payments will certainly diminish if it is sketched accordingly in an “official” report… right?

Yet the planners always disregard the simple observation that an economy is composed of countless, and variable, inputs.  How is a new discovery or technology, and its effect on investment and labor, to be anticipated and forecast?  How are the actions of 7 billion individuals to be modeled and displayed on a tidy diagram?

Good old Friedrich A. Hayek  – depicted above – once coined the term “scientism” to describe the futile attempts of assorted social engineers and their academic advisors to express human action in the form of barren mathematical equations and statistics. Lettuce look at something one of his followers, the late Professor Austin L. Hughes, wrote in an article published in the autumn 2012 issue of “The New Atlantis” journal: 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Italy’s Countdown to Fiscal Crisis

Italy’s Countdown to Fiscal Crisis

Italy’s current scheme of piling unfunded government spending on top of an already-huge debt is a recipe for disaster.

As a general rule, we worry too much about deficits and debt. Yes, red ink matters, but we should pay more attention to variables such as the overall burden of government spending and the structure of the tax system.

That being said, Greece shows that a nation can experience a crisis if investors no longer trust that a government is capable of “servicing” its debt (i.e., paying interest and principal to people and institutions that hold government bonds).

This doesn’t change the fact that Greece’s main fiscal problem is too much spending. It simply shows that it’s also important to recognize the side-effects of too much spending (if you have a brain tumor, that’s your main problem, even if crippling headaches are a side-effect of the tumor).

Anyhow, it’s quite likely that Italy will be the next nation to travel down this path.

This is in part because the Italian economy is moribund, as noted by the Wall Street Journal.

Italy’s national elections…featured populist promises of largess but neglected what economists have long said is the real Italian disease: The country has forgotten how to grow. …The Italian economy contracted deeply in Europe’s debt crisis earlier this decade. A belated recovery now under way yielded 1.5% growth in 2017—a full percentage point less than the eurozone as a whole and not enough to dispel Italians’ pervasive sense of national decline. Many European policy makers view Italy’s stasis as the likeliest cause of a future eurozone crisis.”

Why would Italy be the cause of a future crisis?

For the simple reason that it is only the 4th-largest economy in Europe, but this chart from the Financial Times shows it has the most nominal debt.

So what’s the solution?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

U.S. Gold Market Switches From A Surplus In 2016 To Deficit In 2017

U.S. Gold Market Switches From A Surplus In 2016 To Deficit In 2017

The U.S. gold market suffered a net deficit this year compared to a small surplus in 2016.  This was quite interesting because U.S. physical gold demand will be down considerably this year.  In 2016, total U.S. gold demand was 212 metric tons versus an estimated 150 metric tons this year.  The majority of the decline in U.S. gold demand is from the physical bar and coin sector that is down 56% in the first three quarters of 2017 compared to the same period last year.

So, why will the U.S. gold market suffer a deficit if gold demand is down sharply this year?  Well, it seems as if the culprit is the huge increase in net gold exports.  Last year, the U.S. imported 374 metric tons (mt) of gold and exported 398 mt for a net 24 mt deficit.  However, this year, estimates for U.S. gold imports will fall to 250 mt while exports increase to 475 mt.  Thus, the U.S. net export deficit will be 225 mt in 2017:

However, if we look at all the data in the chart above, the U.S. gold market will experience a net 76 mt deficit in 2017 versus a 44 mt surplus last year (bars right-hand side of chart).  Again, we can see that U.S. gold imports are estimated to decline significantly this year to 250 mt compared to 374 mt in 2016.  Furthermore, total U.S. gold exports are forecasted to increase to 475 mt this year versus 398 mt in 2016.

When we factor in U.S. gold mine supply, domestic consumption, and gold scrap supply, the market will go from a small 44 mt surplus in 2016 to a 76 net deficit this year.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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