- The repercussions of the Fed's Free Money Machine
- Why debt-funded state control stagnates productivity
- The importance of the 8-year cycle
- What should guide investors' focus and decisions
If you have not yet read Part 1: How Long Can The Great Global Reflation Continue? available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.
In Part 1, we asked these questions: can we just keep doubling and tripling the economy’s debt load every few years? What if household incomes continue declining? Are these trends sustainable?
In the near-term, we asked: is this Great Reflation running out of steam, or is it poised for yet another leg higher? Which is more likely?
Let’s start by looking at the mechanism that funds the government’s deficit spending, i.e. its ability to borrow and spend enormous sums of money year after year.
The Free Money Machine
The state can afford to continue or increase fiscal stimulus (deficit spending) because the central bank (the Federal Reserve) has created what amounts to a free money machine. Here’s how the machine works.
The federal government issues $1 trillion in new bonds to fund another $1 trillion in deficit spending. The central bank (Federal Reserve) creates $1 trillion with a few keystrokes, and buys the $1 trillion in bonds with newly created money.
The Federal Reserve earns interest on the $1 trillion in bonds it now owns, but it returns this income to the Treasury, minus the Federal Reserve’s relatively modest expenses of operation. Let’s say the bonds carry an interest rate of 2.5%. The government pays the Federal Reserve $25 billion in annual interest, and the Federal Reserve returns $20 billion annually, so the net cost of borrowing and spending $1 trillion is an insignificant $5 billion.
If this isn’t entirely free money, it’s extremely close to free money.
So in ten years, the Federal Reserve owns $10 trillion more in federal bonds (assuming the bonds are long-term and didn’t mature).
It's no wonder that some economist propose…