Tuesday, December 18, 2012

THE END IS NEAR: 10 Terrifying Truths About the National Debt

Offering a long-term perspective on the debt and deficit, Tyler Durden presents a graph tracking the ratios throughout American history. The takeaways are anything but positive:

10. Beginning with the Anglo-American war of 1812, and continuing through the US civil war, World War I and World War II, the major military shocks to the US fiscal system are clearly obvious.

9. Just as obvious is the impact of not only The Great Moderation which started in the early 1980s just before the 1987 arrival of Alan Greenspan at the helm of the Fed, which allowed the US to exchange fiscal prudence for ever cheaper debt which could and would be used to fund an ever greater budget deficit, and lead to a surge in the Federal debt.

8. The increasingly more unstable system, which saw the additional layering of another $23 trillion in shadow banking debt at its peak in 2008, as well as countless trillions in household, corporate and financial debt, as well as hundreds of trillions in underfunded welfare liabilities, led first to the Internet bubble, then the Housing and Credit bubble, and finally, to the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 which climaxed with the failure of Lehman brothers, and resulted in the central bank bailout of every developed bank, and shortly thereafter, the backstop of every peripheral country in Europe.

7. The gravity and impact of the Great Financial Crisis on the US economy is stark, very visible, and can only be compared to previous instances of destructive military conflict in terms of lost output and impact on the US economy.

6. Total US Debt/GDP is currently just over 103%. This number is expected to rise to 125% by the end of 2016, which will eclipse the peak debt/GDP seen in World War II, and be the highest in US history.

5. One possible interpretation is that due to the Fed's relentless interest rates intervention, the polarized US government feels no burning desire to promptly balance its budget, and even overshoot, and through a combination of aggressive spending cuts and/or revenue increases, result in a much needed surplus which would be used to reduce the sovereign debt. This is graphically seen in the ongoing Fiscal Cliff debate, when any proposal for substantial spending cuts - the true problem at the core of America's deficit habituation and welfare statism - is greeted with shrieks of Mutual Assured Destruction.

4. This is not a political issue: politicians on both sides of the aisle are perfectly aware that setting the US on a sustainable fiscal course would mean massive pain for the common citizen, and an immediate termination of all existing political careers: after all the myth of the welfare state is at stake. It is in everyone's interest - both GOP and Democrat - to perpetuate the unsustainable deficit status quo indefinitely. Any theatrics out of the GOP demanding fiscal conservatism are therefore just that - theatrics.

3. There is no question that it is unsustainable: US GDP is currently growing at a pace of 1.5%-2.5% at best. Total 2012 US debt will have risen at a rate of 8%, and will continue rising in the 6%-8% range.

2. More disturbing is the influence of the Fed, whose policy of ZIRP and outright debt monetization (recall even JPM has now admitted the Fed will monetize all US debt issuance in 2013) is the only permissive factor that has allowed the US to delay the inevitable moment of reckoning as long it has.

1. A modest rise in the average US interest rate, which is currently at all time blended lows, to just 5%, would mean that in 3 years the US would spend, pro forma, $1 trillion in cash interest each year. At that point the US will approach Japan status, where the government needs to borrow just to fund interest outlays. Actually, instead of Japan, Weimar would be a better analogy.

Durden asserts that there are no more backstops remaining and the next shock to the system will be the final nail in the coffin. At that point, there will be but two options remaining for policy makers:

(a) Outright devaluation of currencies around the world against a hard asset, likely gold... or:

(b) A global sovereign debt moratorium -- a cessation of payments on sovereign debt -- which translates to, in his words, "the end of the modern financial system as we know it".


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wish one of these experts would tell us how we as individuals are supposed to survive the coming crash. Is there no choice but to buy gold and bury it in the back yard?

creeper

Anonymous said...

they will not tell

because

you are not supposed to survive it

oh and

it is all on purpose

Anonymous said...

Gold and lead baby
MM

Jim Gatt said...

You make many great points but forget to point out the cause of WAR & TAXES. If you look at the large growth in are dead starts in the 1980s under Reagan cut taxes from where it was under Kennedy at 70% to a mere 28% but later raised it slightly to help cover some of his spending that created his jobs during his presidency we was only under President Clinton who raise taxes did we see a deficit Surplus that was leading us to a dick Surplus had it continued before President Bush took office now under President Bush who went to war without raising taxes for the first time and US History not only did he not raise taxes he cut taxes on the rich but then he started a second unnecessary costly war in Iraq and then cut taxes again mostly on the ridge creating a huge debt and deficit rhetorical aminated with the financial collapse then Obama's election he had to continue the bush deficits which increase the overall debt but was later able to cut the deficit by cutting back on the wars but he made some of the tax cuts Bush put in permanent and if you look at taxes that were much more Progressive and what most people call the good old days between World War II in the 1980s and we had less income equality which is as bad today as it was in the Roaring Twenties and thirties that led to the Great Depression Leslie the Congress blocked Obama from government spending which has always helped and every recoveries look at any graft especially during the Reagan recoveries that gets so much credit we have to spend in the short run to make the economy grow but we have to raise taxes also mostly on the upper classes...