16 May 2010

Gloom and doom re the economic future

The economics editor of The Telegraph opines that the U.S. budget crunch will be one of the biggest in the world:
Exhibit a is the fact that under the Obama administration’s current fiscal plans, the national debt in the US (on a gross basis) will climb to above 100pc of GDP by 2015 – a far steeper increase than almost any other country...

But level of debt isn’t the only problem. Then there’s the fact that the US has a far shorter maturity of government debt than most other countries, meaning that even if it weren’t borrowing any extra cash it would have to issue a large chunk of new stuff each year as things are...

So does all of this mean the US is Greece? The answer, you might be surprised to hear, is no... The US, like Britain and Japan, can independently control its monetary policy; it can devalue its currency. These are hardly solutions in and of themselves, but they do help make the adjustment a lot easier and more gradual. Second, the US has growth. It remains one of, if not the, world’s most dynamic economies. It is growing at a snappy pace this year (in comparison to other countries). And a few percentage points of GDP make an immense difference, since they make those debts much easier to repay.

America is not Greece, but if it does not start making efforts to cut the deficit within a few years, it will head in that direction. The upshot wouldn’t be an IMF bail-out, but a collapse in the dollar and possible hyperinflation in the US, but it would be horrific all the same. America has time, but not forever.
There will be a lot of finger-pointing in the years to come, especially as elections draw nearer.  I'll do my finger-pointing now, pointing at THIS.

1 comment:

  1. I know people desperately want to believe that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan led to the financial mess we are in but the facts simply don't support it.

    See for example:


    (The author's last paragraph is particularly on target, in my opinion.)

    This is not to argue that certain aspects of defense spending do not merit review and trimming. But people need to understand that defense spending is NOT our big problem.


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