Yes, The Debt Predicament Is Every Bit As Bad As You Fear

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Adam Taggart's picture
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Yes, The Debt Predicament Is Every Bit As Bad As You Fear

[Hat-tip to PP reader RS for submitting these exhibits]

Boiled down to the most fundamental level, the main predicament society faces with the Economy part of the Three Es is this: Too Much Debt

So, just how bad it is it?

Here's just America's federal debt. It's been exploding under each successive administration (both Dem and Rep) since Reagan, and Trump is on track to add more than any of his predecessors:

(Source)

Now, for those of you fearful that The Powers That Be have no real plan beyond adding more debt until the system breaks, I hate to reveal that....you're exactly right.

According to former White House officials, Trump -- who loudly warned of the US' growing debt burden while campaigning -- is aware of the severity of the situation, but unconcerned because he predicts the breakdown will happen after he's out of office:

Trump on Coming Debt Crisis: ‘I Won’t Be Here’ When It Blows Up

The president thinks the balancing of the nation’s books is going to, ultimately, be a future president’s problem.

Since the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump’s aides and advisers have tried to convince him of the importance of tackling the national debt.

Sources close to the president say he has repeatedly shrugged it off, implying that he doesn’t have to worry about the money owed to America’s creditors—currently about $21 trillion—because he won’t be around to shoulder the blame when it becomes even more untenable.

The friction came to a head in early 2017 when senior officials offered Trump charts and graphics laying out the numbers and showing a “hockey stick” spike in the national debt in the not-too-distant future. In response, Trump noted that the data suggested the debt would reach a critical mass only after his possible second term in office.

“Yeah, but I won’t be here,” the president bluntly said, according to a source who was in the room when Trump made this comment during discussions on the debt.

(Source)

It's as we've suspected. Those driving our Ship of State know it's headed over a waterfall; they just plan to jump off with a much loot as they can plunder before it does.

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Data In A Different Light

I put the above chart in a spreadsheet so I could do some manipulations with the data - mainly to see what their contribution to our debt was and also how that compared to the total debt inherited from all prior administrations. Here's what I did:

  • President - The president responsible for approving the budget.
  • Fiscal Years - The budget years that the president approved.
  • Years - Total number of budget years approved
  • Debt Inc. - The debt increase (in $billions) during the FYs of the president's term in office
  • Total Debt - Total debt (in $billions) after president's term in office ends
  • Debt/Yr - Simple calculation of Debt Inc. divided by Years (in $billions)
  • Yearly % - Simple calculation of Debt/Yr divided by prior administration's Total Debt
  • Total % - Simple calculation of Debt Inc. divided by prior administration's Total Debt
President Fiscal Years Years Debt Inc. Total Debt Debt/Yr Yearly % Total %
FY1789-1913 FY1789-1913 N/A $2.90 $2.90 N/A N/A N/A
Wilson 1914-1921 8 $21 $23.90 $2.63 90.5% 724%
Harding 1922-1923 2 $(2.00) $21.90 $(1.00) -4.2% -8%
Coolidge 1924-1929 6 $(5) $16.90 $(0.83) -3.8% -23%
Hoover 1930-1933 4 $6 $22.90 $1.50 8.9% 36%
FDR 1934-1945 12 $236 $259 $19.7 85.9% 1031%
Truman 1946-1953 8 $7 $266 $0.88 0.3% 3%
Eisenhower 1954-1961 8 $23 $289 $2.88 1.1% 9%
JFK 1962-1964 3 $23 $312 $7.67 2.7% 13%
Johnson 1965-1969 5 $42 $354 $8.40 2.7% 13%
Nixon 1970-1974 5 $121 $475 $24.2 6.8% 34%
Ford 1975-1977 3 $224 $699 $74.7 15.7% 47%
Carter 1978-1981 4 $299 $998 $74.8 10.7% 43%
Reagan 1982-1989 8 $1,860 $2,858 $232 23.3% 186%
GHW Bush 1990-1993 4 $1,550 $4,408 $388 13.6% 54%
Clinton 1994-2001 8 $1,400 $5,808 $175 4.0% 32%
GW Bush 2002-2009 8 $5,850 $11,658 $731 12.6% 101%
Obama 2010-2017 8 $8,590 $20,248 $1,074 9.2% 74%
Trump 2018-2021 4 $4,780 $25,028 $1,195 5.9% 24%

Note that Trump's numbers are projections through his first term. Also note that this chart only shows the "cash balance" deficit. It does not include unfunded liabilities - civil servant pension shortfalls, Trust Fund shortfalls, etc.

So, why did I go through this effort? There are several ways to look at the data. There are absolute numbers like who added the most debt to our balance sheet. That number gets distorted by the number of years in office. Also, since interest on inherited debt adds to the actual amount the president is responsible for, it makes sense to look at percentages rather than absolutes. Even then, economic conditions at the time have outsized influence on debt. Is it fair to judge FDR's 1031% total increase in debt VS Coolidge's 23% decrease in debt without saying, "yeah, but ..."?

The 4 presidents that have earned the least respect from me are all over 100% increase in total debt on this chart. The least respected is "W" for 9/11 and its fallout. FDR comes next for swallowing all the Keynesian BS that extended the depression and got us into WWII. Wilson is next for creating the federal reserve. Fourth is Reagan for acting so robustly on Cheney's "deficits don't matter" advice.

Although Obama and Trump are well below 100% increases, that is only because the base they inherited was sooooooo large. It's the total debt that will eventually spook bond investors enough that they won't fund the government at such piddly yields that we've had recently. What will the government do when interest rates become unaffordable? Rising interest rates will likely affect the economy negatively. At the same time that financing the debt becomes more onerous, tax receipts will plummet, and safety net expenditures will skyrocket.

I'm sure it will all be portrayed as Russia's fault.

Grover

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WW2

You’re upset that FDR got us into WW2?  

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The Admirable Crichton

Adam wrote,

Those driving our Ship of State know it's headed over a waterfall; they just plan to jump off with a much loot as they can plunder before it does.

And who is going to clean their toilets after they jump ship? Who will grow their maize? Darn their socks?

I recommend you watch The Admirable Crichton*, the saga of a small number of clueless, helpless élites shipwrecked on a south Pacific island and kept alive & civilised by their butler, played by Kenneth Williams. Also stars Diane Cilento.

*pron. Kryton. If you ever watched Red Dwarf, now you know.

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The Plunder

Gary Cohn stayed long enough to oversee the largest wealth grab in American History courtesy of the tax cuts.Three days after the inaguration Ryan Zinke was Flying over the National Parks in private jets supplied by oil and gas executives to divide up fossil fuel leases.Mick Mulvaney has gutted the CFRB deeply harming veterans,consumers and enriching Wall street.Other enemies of our nation?Mnucin,DeVos,Ross,Perry,Pruitt,Shanahan,Pompeo,etc,etc,etc...Every one of them has become wealthy off the backs of its citizens...  

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#wankingbankers: best explanation ever (nothing has changed)

https://twitter.com/NorthmanTrader/status/1088541616514785282/video/1

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Good One

One of the comments posted was great: "Profanity and an Irish accent. Made for each other."

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Wars And Debt
macro2682 wrote:

You’re upset that FDR got us into WW2?  

macro,

That's all you got out of what I wrote? [heavy sigh]

Unless you follow history and see emergent patterns happening again and again, you won't be able to separate causes from mere coincidences. Depending on your viewpoint's timeframe, you'll only see knee jerk reactions to a given crisis, and not the reason that given crisis was fomented. You probably see the US involvement in WW2 as noble. Don't feel too bad. Lots of people think the same thing. Are they wrong to believe this? Not on all levels. If you want to find the actor(s) behind an action, a good place to start looking is the answer to "who benefits?"

Wars are exceedingly expensive. It takes enormous amounts of treasure to prosecute big wars, not to mention the disruption and bloodshed. There has to be a really good reason for the populace to believe that the war is necessary. The illusion of the reason is more important than the reason itself. That sets the basis for the myths we use to justify our actions. As long as the sheeple believe that war is necessary, they'll send their children to fight and die.

It still takes a lot of money to buy/build munition systems to fight the war. Where does that come from? (Hint: Bankers.) Remember that we were in a crippling depression at the time. FDR's policies based on Keyne's economic philosophy didn't end the depression. Rather, his policies extended the depression. Yet, he was loved by the general population for appearing to come to the common man's aid. He was rewarded by being reelected 3 times!

Was WW2 necessary or just a convenient attempt to end the depression? How sure are you that the attack on Pearl Harbor was as unprovoked as we're led to believe? Ask yourself how could we have left Pearl Harbor's defenses so vulnerable given Japan's militaristic mindset.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Events_leading_to_the_attack_on_Pearl_Harbor

Beginning in 1938, the U.S. adopted a succession of increasingly restrictive trade restrictions with Japan. This included terminating its 1911 commercial treaty with Japan in 1939, further tightened by the Export Control Act of 1940. These efforts failed to deter Japan from continuing its war in China, or from signing the Tripartite Pact in 1940 with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, officially forming the Axis Powers.

<snip>

In July 1941, IJN headquarters informed Emperor Hirohito its reserve bunker oil would be exhausted within two years if a new source was not found. In August 1941, Japanese prime minister Fumimaro Konoe proposed a summit with President Roosevelt to discuss differences. Roosevelt replied Japan must leave China before a summit meeting could be held. [Modern day equivalent is reopening government before discussing a border wall. Bolding is mine. - Grover.]

The US was the world's exporter of oil at the time. Because of geology, Japan had very limited domestic supply. Indonesia was a source but protected by the US. Japan needed to neutralize the US naval response before attacking Indonesia for their oil. We can see the logic today. Why couldn't our military leaders see the logic then? Hmmm. (Perhaps they did. The false flag gambit had been used before and has been used ever since.)

Michael Rivero argues that ALL wars are bankers' wars. Although I don't agree that "all" wars are just for bankers, I do agree that they profit enormously enough to sway any limited moral opposition they may harbor. They create the money and loan it to us, the government. Then, we send our children to fight and die. When the war is over, we're stuck with the accumulated debts. If that isn't a magnificent business plan, I don't know what is. Rivero's web page is quite long. If you don't want to wade through it, here's a 44 minute video that hits the main points.

Grover

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CBO Forecasts $12 Trillion more debt by 2029

Here's an article from MarketWatch about the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) forecast for the next 10 years. In essence, they are predicting that we'll have average deficits of $1.2 trillion per year for the next decade. Of course, that is only "on budget" forecasts. They don't include "off budget" items like emergencies or disasters.

In 2019, the annual U.S. deficit is forecast to rise to $900 billion from $779 billion in 2018. The deficit is projected to top $1 trillion annually beginning in 2022 — two years later than the CBO originally forecast.

Let's see how accurate the $779 billion in 2018 actually was. This next snippet is from https://www.treasurydirect.gov/NP/debt/current

Date Debt Held by the Public Intragovernmental Holdings Total Public Debt Outstanding
09/29/2017 14,673,428,663,140.94 5,571,471,352,912.57 20,244,900,016,053.51
09/28/2018 15,761,154,524,132.45 5,754,903,659,047.78 21,516,058,183,180.23
FY2018 Total 1,087,725,860,991.51 183,432,306,135.21 1,271,158,167,126.72

Int​ragovernmental Holdings are the theoretical Trust Fund Balances, e.g. SS, Medicare, etc. Trust fund receipts are collected and then promptly replaced with "Special Treasury Bonds" that are essentially a loan from one pocket of government to another pocket of government. Some of this $183 billion was payroll taxes and some was due to interest payment increases (again from one pocket to the other pocket.) They don't separate the 2 streams here. What's important to know about the money in this column is that the money has already been collected from your payroll taxes and spent. It is only a fictional accounting entry to make people feel that the money is still there. If it really were still there, our debt problem is ~36% worse than CBO admits.

The Debt Held by the Public is the column the CBO focuses upon. The $1.088 trillion TOTAL deficit for FY2018 is ~40% larger than the "on budget" $779 billion deficit they admit. That's how much those pesky "off budget" expenditures cost. Since congress likes to hide as much as possible off budget, that percentage increase will likely continue. It isn't unconservative to add 40% to the projected deficit for the next 10 years. With that increase, we're looking at $16.75 trillion (just for this column) rather than the puny $12 trillion forecast.

Of course, the CBO's less than rosy forecast doesn't include a recession(s) in the next 10 years. This expansion is already long in the tooth. It needed constant aid from federal reserve low interest rates as well as huge budget deficits. Any true Keynesian economist should know that his philosophy stipulated that debt be paid back during good economic times. We've obviously never had good economic times since the 1920s since we have constantly gotten deeper in debt. Either that, or we really can't trust our government to actually follow through on this worthless philosophy.

Grover

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"Sources close to the president say..."

Sorry but this kind statement requires a level of faith. We have been hearing made up stories about the president since before he won the election, none of them have backed up their claims with proof, and many have been proven to be fake news. There is an organized effort underway to destroy this president and stories that are prefaced on "unnamed sources close to the president" no longer carry the credibility that they once might have. The mainstream media has run through that currency.

Whenever I hear a story begin with "sources close to the president" I stop reading. There's a reason CNN has lost nearly 50% of their viewership.

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"Sources close to the president say..."

Duplicate post

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Sources
Quote:

 Sorry but this kind statement requires a level of faith.

Yes, it does, in more than one direction.

Consider this: in some cases, promising anonymity to the source is the only way that an important story can be told or even discovered.

When I studied journalism, many moons ago, we were taught that if we promised anonymity to a source, that was to be respected absolutely, and we should be prepared to go to jail for contempt of court rather than reveal the source.

So anonymous attribution was something to be used sparingly and with great care.

If possible we were advised to use anonymous sources as leads for further investigation so that we could eventually tell the story using sources that were fully attributable. But sometimes the only thing that works is to quote the anonymous source.

So treat anonymous quotes with caution, but also be cautious about reflexively dismissing them. Much depends on the integrity of the reporter, and the editors above him/her.

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Cash Accounting

Should have used GAAP figures estimates.   The real GAAP Deficit is around $5T yearly, maybe more.   

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Modern Monetary Theory?

Thanks Adam!

Will you please discuss Modern Monetary Theory, which is gaining traction especially among the Democratic Socialist movement? Stephanie Kelton appears to be the face of the MMT movement. Is what they say valid? They essentially think that printing massive amounts of money is a good thing and can go on forever without consequence.

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Good MMT Post

Here is a good MMT blog post:
https://www.themacrotourist.com/posts/2019/01/23/mmt/

Stephanie Kelton video:

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MMT: winners and losers, likelihood

My thought about MMT boils down to this:

As we know, there is no free lunch - finite resources, etc.  Each system design of currencies, budgets, and economic systems are all about dividing up the pile of real stuff among the participants.  You just have to ask yourself: in this new MMT system, who are the winners, and who are the losers?

Here is my thought.  Since the discussion of MMT as a method for government budgeting centers around the central question of "how much inflation is ok", the real discussion is, "how much of the pie can we take from savers, and hand to everyone else?"

How will that work out in practice?  Winner and loser selection (the size of the slice that will be stolen from savers) will move from the Fed over to our fantastic set of politicans in Washington.

When politicians are handed - directly - the levers over how much they can steal in order to get a) elected, and b) funnel the proceeds to their cronies, given the current set of utterly corrupted Tools of Crony Capitalism currently in place, how do you think it will work out?

Republicans will steal from savers and hand it to their cronies, Democrats will steal from savers and hand it to their cronies - with a shocking amount of overlap between those groups of cronies.

And once savers figure this out - that the only constraint on inflation (i.e. saver theft) is what the current group of losers in Washington decide is the absolute maximum that savers will tolerate, with a "race to the bottom" in order to bribe voters and cronies in order to get elected - what do you think those savers will do?

What would you do?  To use one of my favorite phrases:

Run, don't walk.

But I don't think it will happen.  Holders of all that US treasury debt are rich people, and that debt would - very rapidly - lose value under this scenario.  I think our elites want the levers to remain right where it is now: at the Fed.

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MMT is a rebranding of the status quo

All MMT does is describe modern monetary practice. The idea that the only constraints on borrowing are the effects it will have on the currency. This is true. Currently there is no attempt at shrinking the debt and, for all intents and purposes, the only limiting factor is how much we can borrow before lenders start demanding greater yield.

MMT seems to simply be an attempt to sum up our current irresponsible monetary practice into what seems like some kind of an intentional system that we embarked upon voluntarily instead of simply stumbling through and kicking the can down the road in order to avoid the consequences of our unsustainable actions.

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Thanks! +

Thanks for your thoughtful responses. 

Can you help me with one other question? I don't yet understand how interest rates are set. Does the Fed have total control over rates, or can the market force rates higher, even when the Fed has them set low?

 

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the fed

Hi John,

The fed has alot of power over interest rates but that power is not absolute. The fed cannot afford to buy all bonds that are issued by the treasury so if nobody else is willing to buy debt at the current yield, rates will go up whether the fed likes it or not.

They can keep it up for a little while, but ultimately the tide cannot be held back forever.

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controlling inflation levers

brushhog-

I disagree.  Who has control over the inflation-levers definitely matters.  And it matters most to Big Money.

Imagine yourself in loose control over "big money."  You don't want inflation getting out of control, as it did in the 70s when Nixon was able to get the Fed to do his bidding in order to win that 1972 election.  In your role, you are the proud owner of trillions in medium and long term US treasury securities.  Some inflation is fine, but too much inflation and you end up losing a ton of money when the bond prices of your portfolio collapses.

Given that's your job description - superintendent of Big Money - would you want to place the control over inflation in the hands of our 535 squirrelly bought out politicians who could get a wild hair suddenly and decide to start printing money with wild abandon?  Or would you prefer 9 guys from the banking industry?

Yeah, you'd pick the "9 guys from the banking industry" option.  The tail risk of handing power to those squirrelly politicians is just too great.

This calculus is why I say MMT won't happen.  Big Money will use its power and influence to keep it from happening, and they currently have an iron fisted control over government.

Unless, of course, there's some sort of real revolution...and 280 AOC-clones get elected...then all bets are off..and that's when we move to the "run, don't walk" option.  That's when the USD really does turn to confetti.  The flight out of the USD would be a sight to behold.

 

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MMT's proponents would like you to think...

... that humanity has been continuosly run by fools over the last couple of millenia. They could have solved all their econimic problems very easily just by issuing more currency; instead, they weren't smart enough to figure it out smiley. Do you really believe it ? Or, do you really believe that this magic "solution" hasn't been tried before along our history ? Anybody cares to remember its results, every single freaking time ?

The results are simple, and always the same: debasement followed by the destruction of currency, savings and lifestyle due to an inflation running amok ! I just love how our modern economists pretend that there has been no-to-little inflation since 2009. Sure, the houses became unafordable (again) along with rents, tuitions, health care, while the price of food (for a much lower quality) and banking services went up significantly; other that that, everything's peachy !

Remember, there is a good reason why MMT has been also called the "Magic Money Tree" theory... cool

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Dave,

When you say the "run, don't walk" option, where are we to run to?

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MMT and You
brushhog wrote:

All MMT does is describe modern monetary practice. The idea that the only constraints on borrowing are the effects it will have on the currency. This is true. Currently there is no attempt at shrinking the debt and, for all intents and purposes, the only limiting factor is how much we can borrow before lenders start demanding greater yield.

MMT seems to simply be an attempt to sum up our current irresponsible monetary practice into what seems like some kind of an intentional system that we embarked upon voluntarily instead of simply stumbling through and kicking the can down the road in order to avoid the consequences of our unsustainable actions.

Along with giving a big thumbs up to DaveF for his Rules for Rulers aligned critique of MMT, let me add to the part I've bolded above.

There are other limiting factors that need to be brought into the conversation, perhaps the biggest of which is that MMT is, at heart, something that Karl Marx would recognize and be proud of.  It is the self-deceit of central planners to believe that they can more accurately and elegantly direct spending to the right places, and the right parties, at the right time.

Sure, their efforts will be wrapped up in whatever is popular at the time.  If it were in play today there would be special funds directed towards the LGBT community, and to fight the scourge of Russian interference in US elections, and so forth.

Massive piles would be directed at the next generation of super-awesome weapons because China, and because Russia.

Soon we’d have to MMT our way out of the collapse of the next mega-financial institution(s) because systemic reasons.

All MMT represents is real purchasing power printed into existence which, by definition, has to come from somewhere.  As Dave pointed out, that “somewhere” is from existing savings and savers.

It’s just an accounting identity.

So MMT simply represents a gigantic scrum among those already in power to shift the new purchasing power this way and that way, like a gigantic fire hose held by children only with less precision and effectiveness.

I’m not saying this is any worse than having the Fed make the same decisions, but neither is it any better.  Sooner or later, whether via MMT or via some other approach, we’re going to have to face the simple truth that it’s not possible to borrow (or spend) at a faster pace than real wealth is generated via the growth of the underlying economy.  That, in turn, is limited by the availability of natural resources and the degree to which those are productively and effectively utilized.

So the real question is, “will MMT somehow be a more effective and productive way to spend money?”

On that front, I cannot find a single real-world example to drag this out of pie-in-the-sky academic noodling and into a solid format that can be debated.  That means I have to resort to my observations of human behavior and note that whatever “ism” is in place, people are people and those drawn towards the top are identically self-promoting, power-grabbing, and ego-driven no matter what sort of hierarchy they ascribe to.

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worse than that

Chris-

I'm going to ever-so-slightly refine your "where would MMT be spent today"...

Token amounts would be spent - although they'd be allocated VERY LOUDLY AND PROUDLY - on LGBT issues ("fighting hate speech", or some damn thing) as well as "countering Russian interference in our democracy." (perhaps by improving computer security at the DNC and with the Democrat political machine so that emails detailing actual domestic election-rigging would never again be exposed to the public eye).

The vast majority of the MMT money would be sent to where it is needed most: to benefit the donor class.  Who might they be?  Defense.  Sickcare.  Banking.

You know, the places where the ex-politicians go to work once they are finished with "public service."

Example: government-funded sickcare.  Everyone can get every service.  No rationing.  Available to both legal and illegal immigrants - why not, its a "human right."  If you say otherwise - you're a racist.  Every drug in the world is on the list.  Even those that cost $100,000 per pill.  [Not long afterwards, coincidentally, there are now a LOT of drugs that end up costing $100,000 per pill.]

Cui bono, you ask?  Duh, that would be the Sickcare industry, and all those politicans that go work there after "public service."

That sends sickcare to 40% of GDP - a direct transfer from savers to the sickcare shareholders and executives.

To expect any other outcome is to expect a dog to refrain from eating a piece of meat that has accidentally fallen on the floor in the kitchen.  (Those who have dogs will know exactly what I mean.)

Honestly, I suspect the first cut of using MMT to fund the "green new deal" programs would actually be reasonably well spent.

Its just the second, and follow-on programs that would get progressively worse, as politicians realized that Free Money Was Available To Hand To Their Donors.

And just like that: dollar would turn to confetti.

Gold is the place to go in that instance.  This would be the goldbugs' long-awaited moment, finally arrived.

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Kicking the Can even further?

Chris,

Thanks for your input. You have been predicting an imminent collapse for some time, and we have all been surprised at how far those in power have been able to continue to kick the can down the road.

Would MMT allow the government to kick the can down the road even further, perhaps for many more years, or does your timeline remain the same?

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MMT allows the FED to not

MMT allows the FED to not admit the error of its policy.

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Powell is very worried

It's funny that Powell doesn't even wait to be out of his chairman job before publicly saying he is 'very worried' about growing amount of US debt.

"I'm very worried about it," Powell said at The Economic Club of Washington, D.C. "From the Fed's standpoint, we're really looking at a business cycle length: that's our frame of reference. The long-run fiscal, nonsustainability of the U.S. federal government isn't really something that plays into the medium term that is relevant for our policy decisions."

 

However, "it's a long-run issue that we definitely need to face, and ultimately, will have no choice but to face," he added.

Source

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MMT: Authoritarianism?

There's a lot of good points about MMT here. I just wanted to make some additional points:
-The current Fed system prints money from nothing and the aristocracy benefits (primarily).
-Proposed MMT prints money from nothing and allegedly infrastructure (society) benefits.
-One central bank calling the shots for all 50 states (and the rest of the planet) vs. 50 state banks calling the shots for their state economies, in whatever way best benefits them.

The unspoken premise here is that MMT would look just like what the Fed does now. How do we know it doesn't look like a more socialized version of the bank of North Dakota (the only state bank in the U.S.)? These banks can run counter-cyclical policies in favor of their constiuents (which they can see and hear) unlike Wall Street that has little to no consideration of community stakeholders in Flyover, NE.

Authoritarian politics and economics are unsustainable. That much should be clear by now. Humans work best in groups of 150 or less. Having one central government/bank dictate the strategy for millions is wholly irresponsible and psychopathic and will lead to the immisertion of millions. I agree with Chris that postions of power attract the power-hungry and that folks who occupy these positions will decide how the money is spent.

No real world examples? Whatever happened to the 2008 Minnesota Transportation Act (MTA)? They wanted to print some money to fix roads and bridges. Did nothing good come of that?

The discussion extends into a whole new paradigm. I often say, "If you've been to one American city, then you have been to them all." I'm speaking of course of the Babylonian-type strip sprawl that pollutes the edge of every city bordering the interstate highway system. This type of demand-side economic freedom is also unsustainable. Decentralizing and dismantling neoliberalism extends to killing corporate franchises as seemingly benign as fast food restaurants. Granted, our society is highly specialized and we can't have a widget manufacturer in every single community, that's just a logistical reality, I suppose.

Corporations used to be temporary constructs to facilitate human endeavors. Perhaps money should be treated in the same manner: a limited, artifical construct used to facilitate human endeavors? Not an abstract instrument to collect in a vault for "savers" to horde. Yet, we see evidence of wealth disparity even in the earliest agrarian societies. I suspect the problem lies deeper than the monetary system.

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