Monday, 8 August 2011

Can the US Ever Pay Off its Debt?

According to this blog post, the answer is, no. At 14 plus trillion dollars it really is not possible to pay off the debt. Moreover, including future liabilities like social security, medical costs and pensions drives the debt load into the stratosphere somewhere between 60 and 70 trillion dollars. In comparison, the entire stock of assets in the US is estimated between 40 and 50 trillion dollars. This post makes me want to re-read the book "The Creature From Jekyll Island". This is an interesting book that details the creation of the US Federal Reserve.

In Europe, the ECB is faced with the task of coming up with several trillion dollars over the next few years to keep the PIIGS from being slaughtered. Money, that will keep these economies afloat for a few years but will ultimately never be paid back in full. With the American and European debt situations so mind boggling, perhaps debt repudiation is the answer. The  alternatives (do nothing or do small patch work debt deals) may well lead to a global depression. As this chart below shows, the biggest problem in America right now is lack of jobs. Japan has shown how it is possible for a major economic powerhouse to sustain two decades of lost economic opportunity with high debt loads and very slow economic growth.. It is now time for the US to decide which path to follow.

1 comment:

  1. Perry, I would also recommend Liaquat Ahamed’s “Lords of Finance” as a tome worth reading especially since economic history is fashionable again given the stupendous failure of Lucas's Rational Expecations paradigm which should be thrown to into the dustbin of failed ideas. Germany is loathe to create a fiscal transfer mechanism and as such, the Euro will continue to struggle; I can't understand why it is valued so highly. Moreover, the FOMC proclaiming that Fed Funds will stay at the 0-25bp band till 2013 opens up further reflation of risk assets. Clearly the US will not tax to correct the debt and deficit and future entitlements situations; it will rely on the FED to conjure up magic.