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Old 02-06-2016, 10:50 AM   #61
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I am curious from hearing from those of you that feel printing money (or doing whatever budgetary actions that has the equivalent effect) is an acceptable fiscal policy to address national debt......

- What, if any, debt level would the US have to reach before it concerned you? And why would you be concerned then?
- If you don't have any debt level that concerns you, is there a rate of escalation of the debt that would concern you? And why would it be of concern then?
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Old 02-06-2016, 10:58 AM   #62
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I am curious from hearing from those of you that feel printing money (or doing whatever budgetary actions that has the equivalent effect) is an acceptable fiscal policy to address national debt......
Well...it worked for the Weimar Republic.......oh, wait....
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Old 02-06-2016, 12:36 PM   #63
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The problem is that folks equate national debt with personal debt and spending habits and thereby say the sky is falling because we spend too much so everyone else owns us. As others have mentioned, there is no issue with the debt that can't be solved by printing more money as long as we're the world's gold standard currency. Buying off debt with play money isn't really an issue, the Feds just concluded QE a couple of years ago with no impact to inflation.
I personally feel that the QE repercussions have not been felt yet, just saying. The goal of QE was to raise the price of assets(it did), make people feel richer so they would buy and borrow again (it almost did). Those assets are now down 10% now.

If the Fed thought QE was so great, meaning a greater national debt without really paying it off, then let's take the lid off the jar. Stop all taxation at the federal level; if we outspend all federal revenues and the fed pays for it with funnier money, why tax at all?
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Old 02-06-2016, 12:43 PM   #64
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The problem is that folks equate national debt with personal debt and spending habits and thereby say the sky is falling because we spend too much so everyone else owns us. As others have mentioned, there is no issue with the debt that can't be solved by printing more money as long as we're the world's gold standard currency. Buying off debt with play money isn't really an issue, the Feds just concluded QE a couple of years ago with no impact to inflation.

And global economic issues really have little to do with how much debt we're carrying, IMO. Most economists agree that government spending plays a vital role in GDP and the austerity measures implemented in other countries have hurt more than they've helped. But we're not Greece either.

Agreed, most people who complain about debt don't have a fundamental understanding of macroeconimcs and just what money really is.


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Old 02-06-2016, 12:50 PM   #65
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I am curious from hearing from those of you that feel printing money (or doing whatever budgetary actions that has the equivalent effect) is an acceptable fiscal policy to address national debt......

- What, if any, debt level would the US have to reach before it concerned you? And why would you be concerned then?
- If you don't have any debt level that concerns you, is there a rate of escalation of the debt that would concern you? And why would it be of concern then?
"I'd rather owe you, than cheat you out of it"

All governments print money. That is the nature of the beast. I used to be one that wanted a balanced budget, but once I figured out it would be impossible, I gave up on it.

As long as all the major currencies are being printed at equal rates, the strength of the currencies is relative. If one country doesn't print, their currency gets too strong and jobs are lost.

The currency needs to be on par with the strength of other countries. Can you imagine if everyone in the USA had the power to be a multi-millionaire in Europe? Things would seem cheap at first, then no additional wealth would be created. The money would all flow out.
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Old 02-06-2016, 12:51 PM   #66
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I personally feel that the QE repercussions have not been felt yet, just saying. The goal of QE was to raise the price of assets(it did), make people feel richer so they would buy and borrow again (it almost did). Those assets are now down 10% now.

If the Fed thought QE was so great, meaning a greater national debt without really paying it off, then let's take the lid off the jar. Stop all taxation at the federal level; if we outspend all federal revenues and the fed pays for it with funnier money, why tax at all?
QE ended in 2014. I know monetary policy works with a lag, but not 18+ months of a lag.

Meanwhile the intention wasn't to inflate assets to make people richer or to finance federal deficits. The intention was to try to drive real interest rates down to a market clearing level. If you look at a Talyor Rule estimate of the appropriate Fed Funds rate it dropped below zero in 2009 . . .


Source Ben Bernanke

Seeing as how the Fed can't lower rates (much) below zero, it engaged in "unconventional" monetary policy that included not just QE but also dovish forward guidance. Both were an an attempt to raise inflation expectations and drive real interest rates sufficiently negative so that the market would clear and the economy would move back to full employment.

That policy is now over, as evidenced not just by an end to the Fed's asset purchase program but also it's recent rate increase and guidance about additional increases in the quarters ahead.
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Old 02-06-2016, 12:54 PM   #67
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Agreed, most people who complain about debt don't have a fundamental understanding of macroeconimcs and just what money really is.
Fine - then answer my question posed just a couple posts above. So far I find the "macroeconomics" comments not credible. So help us understand by providing some answers to our questions.
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Old 02-06-2016, 01:02 PM   #68
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Fine - then answer my question posed just a couple posts above. So far I find the "macroeconomics" comments not credible. So help us understand by providing some answers to our questions.
We're trying
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Old 02-06-2016, 01:55 PM   #69
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QE ended in 2014. I know monetary policy works with a lag, but not 18+ months of a lag.

Meanwhile the intention wasn't to inflate assets to make people richer or to finance federal deficits. The intention was to try to drive real interest rates down to a market clearing level. If you look at a Talyor Rule estimate of the appropriate Fed Funds rate it dropped below zero in 2009 . . .


Source Ben Bernanke

Seeing as how the Fed can't lower rates (much) below zero, it engaged in "unconventional" monetary policy that included not just QE but also dovish forward guidance. Both were an an attempt to raise inflation expectations and drive real interest rates sufficiently negative so that the market would clear and the economy would move back to full employment.

That policy is now over, as evidenced not just by an end to the Fed's asset purchase program but also it's recent rate increase and guidance about additional increases in the quarters ahead.

The long end stuff the Feds purchased has a yield lower today than when they bought it. I say take advantage of the real low long end rates and dump it on the market and snag a nice little capital gain for the treasury.


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Old 02-06-2016, 02:15 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by Whisper66 View Post
I am curious from hearing from those of you that feel printing money (or doing whatever budgetary actions that has the equivalent effect) is an acceptable fiscal policy to address national debt......

- What, if any, debt level would the US have to reach before it concerned you? And why would you be concerned then?
- If you don't have any debt level that concerns you, is there a rate of escalation of the debt that would concern you? And why would it be of concern then?
In response to your question, debt is too high when it is unsupported by the assets on the other side of the balance sheet and the cost to carry it is not affordable.

If you're not going to include assets and income in the discussion, how then can you judge debt levels?
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Old 02-06-2016, 02:15 PM   #71
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Agreed, most people who complain about debt don't have a fundamental understanding of macroeconimcs and just what money really is.
+1

I find the comparison made between personal and governmental finances regarding the value of debt elimination to be ignoring a major difference, that being: we as individuals have a finite span of existence, and therefore plan our finances accordingly in order to retire - something most everyone here can surely relate to. Governments (and businesses, for the most part) do not plan to retire, they do not plan for a finite existence and do not need to follow the same path of accumulation, debt reduction/elimination, and planned deccumulation. The governmental goals become a complicated mix of controlling inflation, investment behavior, interaction with other competing governments; well the list goes on and on, just like debates regarding the relative importance of each factor.
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Old 02-06-2016, 02:21 PM   #72
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National debt concerns me more than any other national topic; including terrorism, our wars overseas, pollution and certainly climate change. .
As long as they leave my SS and soon-to-arrive Medicare alone, I'm not losing sleep about anything else this country does.

I just have to make it through the next 25 years...I don't see anyone in DC who'd SERIOUSLY take on those third rails.
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Old 02-06-2016, 03:39 PM   #73
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I don't play the part of an economist on TV, and haven't been to a Holiday Inn for a while, but I do think more data provides perspective. The event list offers notes on possible causation, and the chart below includes 1929-2015 data with inflation and interest rates added.

What I do know for sure is that entering the workforce in the 70's I thought inflation was cool, as I was getting raises frequently and had not yet mired myself in debt. High interest rates in the early 80's benefited me as I'd just sold my first house and had money to put in the bank. Low inflation now benefits me as it is keeping my non-COLA pension viable, for now at least. Everything is relative, and the correlation of interest rates, inflation, and debt do give me pause as the method(s) selected to manage debt may have disproportionate impact. As in, how long can I keep being lucky?
  • 1929 Hoover maintained high wage controls. Fed raised discount rate to defend gold standard, creating deflation. Combination forces bankruptcies on businesses.
  • 1930 Stock Market Crash of 1929. Congress passed*Smoot-Hawley Tariffs.
  • 1932 Hoover worsened depression by raising taxes to balance budget.
  • 1933 Roosevelt took office, New Deal signed. Unemployment peaked at 25%.
  • 1934 World trade is down 66% from start of Depression.
  • 1941 Attack on Pearl Harbor, US entered WWII, ending the*Great Depression.
  • 1945 1945 recession due to end of WWII. War cost $296 billion.
  • 1946 GDP fell 11%.
  • 1949 1949 recession.
  • 1950 Korean War starts.
  • 1953 Korean War ends, total the war cost $30 billion.
  • 1954 Recession follows end of Korean War.
  • 1958 GDP fell 4.2% in Q4 '57, and another 10.4% in Q1 '58. Unemployment peaked at 7.1% in Sep '58.
  • 1959 Fed raised rates to combat 7.25% growth rate.
  • 1960 1960 recession started in April.*GDP fell 4.2% in Q4 '60.
  • 1961 JFK became President. *Bay of Pigs. Unemployment peaked at 6.1% in Dec.
  • 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • 1963 Military coup in Vietnam, aided by 16,000 U.S. advisers.*Kennedy assassinated.
  • 1964 LBJ announces War on Poverty.
  • 1965 Johnson funds Great Society, creating Medicare, Medicaid and HUD. Sends 100,000 troops to Vietnam. War's total cost will be $111 billion.
  • 1966 Fed raised interest rates to 5.76% to fight *a mild 3.5% inflation.
  • 1967 LBJ created PBS, Product Safety Commission and Air Quality Act.
  • 1968 Johnson*sent 500,000 troops to Vietnam.
  • 1969 Nixon became President.
  • 1970 GDP down 4.2% in Q4 '70. *Arthur Burns becomes Fed Chair.
  • 1971 Nixon imposed wage price controls and suspended gold standard.*Unemployment from 1970 recession peaked at 6.1% in December
  • 1972 Nixon won re-election in a landslide.
  • 1973 OPEC*with the*oil embargo.*Nixon*went off*gold standard, tripling inflation to 9.7%. Fed doubled interest rates. Vietnam War ended.
  • 1974 Fed raised rates to 13% to fight inflation. Nixon resigned over Watergate.
  • 1975 Unemployment from 1973-75 recession peaked at 9% in May, GDP was down 4.8% in Q1 '75.
  • 1979 Volcker became Fed Chair, increasing Fed funds rate to 20% to combat inflation.
  • 1980 1980 recession, Iran oil embargo, GDP fell 7.9% in Q2 '80.
  • 1981 Beginning of 1982 recession.
  • 1982 1982 recession, GDP fell 6.4% in Q1 '82.
  • 1983 Unemployment from the 1982 recession peaked at 10.8%.
  • 1986 President Reagan*lowered tax rates.
  • 1987 Alan Greenspan become Fed Chair.
  • 1989 Savings and Loan Crisis*cost $125 billion.
  • 1990 Desert Storm.
  • 1991 1991 recession.
  • 1993 Bill Clinton*passed*Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act
  • 2001 9/11 attacks*worsened the 2011 recession.**Bush tax cuts*further reduced revenue.
  • 2002 War on Terror added $33.8 billion.
  • 2003 Unemployment at 6%. War on Terror cost $53 billion.
  • 2004 War on Terror was $94 billion.
  • 2005 War on Terror cost $107.6 billion.
  • 2006 Katrina clean-up*was $24.7 billion,*swine flu*added $6 billion, War on Terror cost $120.4 billion.*Ben Bernanke*became Fed Chair.
  • 2007 Iraq War cost*$131.6 billion.
  • 2008 Economy contracted 3.7% in Q3 '08, 1.8% in Q1 '08. War on Terror cost $197.6 billion,*Bank Bailout Bill*cost $350 billion.*
  • 2009 Economy contracted 8.9% in Q4 '08, 6.7% in Q1 '09, lowering tax revenues. ARRA spent $241.9 billion. War on Terror cost $79 billion. Fed funds rate lowered to 0%.*The debt exceeded $11 trillion on March 16, 2009, and $12 trillion on November 16, 2009.
  • 2010 ARRA budgeted $400 billion. For more, see*National Debt Under Obama.*The debt exceeded $13 trillion on June 1, 2010, and $14 trillion on December 31, 2010.
  • 2011 Obama Stimulus Act*(ARRA) spent $120 billion. The debt exceeded $15 trillion on November 15, 2011.
  • 2012 Obama extended Bush tax cuts, combined with*$900 billion in defense spending.*The debt exceeded $16 trillion on August 31, 2012.*
  • 2013 Sequestration*reduced government spending, at the same time the end of Obama's payroll tax holiday raised revenue. The U.S. debt hit $17 trillion on October 17, a few days after the end of the fiscal year.
  • 2014 The debt exceed*$18 trillion on December 15, 2014.*The*Fed*owned nearly*$2.5 trillion of U.S. debt, thanks to*Quantitative Easing. This kept interest rates low. Many accused the Fed of simply*monetizing the debt.*
  • 2015 The economy is growing slightly faster than the debt.
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Old 02-06-2016, 04:43 PM   #74
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Good thing we won't have to do that.

And that's OK. The giant WWII debt balances are positively trivial in size compared to today's economy. So too will $19 trillion be in the not too distant future.
I agree it will never be paid off -- in fact given current interest rates we should probably be creating 100 year debt instruments right now -- but it only doesn't become a problem if the economy grows at the same pace or better as the debt.

We've added something like 70% to the debt over the last 8 years or so. ($11T-ish to $19T). I don't have the exact figure but for sure the GDP didn't grow like that.

That for sure is not sustainable as the interest consumes an ever greater fraction of the economy. Either you move productive capacity to paying the growing burden or you take it in the teeth with inflation. The Fed may be able to do some ***** pocus with a modified QE and crazy reserve ratios to keep the cash out of the real economy but I wouldn't count on that working out.

We need to get control of our structural deficit at some point IMO.
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Old 02-06-2016, 04:43 PM   #75
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Fine - then answer my question posed just a couple posts above. So far I find the "macroeconomics" comments not credible. So help us understand by providing some answers to our questions.

No, i choose not to debate with a post like this. You may want to look into a formal class on macroeconomics and financial markets, maybe that is setting where you could accept the information being presented. Most of the ivy leagues offer excellent online courses at reasonable prices.


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Old 02-06-2016, 08:18 PM   #76
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In response to your question, debt is too high when it is unsupported by the assets on the other side of the balance sheet and the cost to carry it is not affordable.

If you're not going to include assets and income in the discussion, how then can you judge debt levels?
Agreed. Was curious what others thought was a reasonable limit using whatever measure they felt appropriate. I wasn't specific on measures because I didn't want to push any particular type of answer.

When I think of this topic, I tend to consider Debt to GDP ratio. I note some others in this thread also look at this but I didn't note a trend in thinking of a quantifiable level of that measure which would be of significant concern to the group.

I also have no specific Debt / GDP value for concern. The only quantifying criteria I'm personally aware of is the critieria used for countries to adopt the Euro as their currency....I believe they use ~60% Debt/GDP and some very low deficit/GDP as a couple of the criteria of a good economy.

As plotted in ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:F...ic_Product.pdf ), our Debt to GDP values are hovering around 100% which is near the our values post WWII. As Gone4Good points out in post 18, the CBO estimates this will get much higher. I'm concerned that our economy as measured by this particular ratio isn't much better than that time period and looking to get much worse. I'd also be less concerned if our debt/GDP was strongly trending downward but don't see that at this point and don't see any stomach in our country today for addressing the debt side of the equation.

I recognize others see things differently and thus asked my questions just to test if others had more specific ideas on when they would be concerned vs not concerned.
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Old 02-06-2016, 09:46 PM   #77
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We've added something like 70% to the debt over the last 8 years or so. ($11T-ish to $19T). I don't have the exact figure but for sure the GDP didn't grow like that.

That for sure is not sustainable . . .
No, it wouldn't be. And it's important to recognize that level of debt accumulation isn't continuing. And also that it was pretty specific to the financial crisis.

In 2008 the economy fell off a cliff, and Federal tax revenues went with it. Federal receipts declined from 17.9% of GDP in 2007 to 14.6% in 2009 (the lowest level of revenue since 1950.) Along with a collapse in revenues, federal spending increased dramatically due to higher unemployment claims and welfare benefits. All of that reverses as the economy recovers.

In 2009, the first full year of the financial crisis, the Federal deficit exploded to 9.8% of GDP. This year it is projected to be 2.5%, which is far lower than was typical during the boom years of the 1980's and early 90's.

That's still not good enough considering demographic trends, but all else being equal 2.5% deficits are pretty much sustainable indefinitely.
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Old 02-06-2016, 10:02 PM   #78
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I recognize others see things differently and thus asked my questions just to test if others had more specific ideas on when they would be concerned vs not concerned.
The Federal government can currently borrow across the yield curve at real interest rates of less than 1%. At that cost of capital, any spending that yields any positive value basically pays for itself.

Short of piling up stacks of cash and setting it on fire, the federal government should be showering money on any project that has even a modest return on investment. And they should keep doing that until there are no more sub 1% return investments to fund or the bond market tells them to stop by raising the cost of capital.
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Old 02-07-2016, 09:27 AM   #79
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The lack of stability in the dollar and deficit spending benefits some at the expense of others. It rewards those early in the cycle to the detriment of those that come later. The addition of leverage exacerbates the problem. It creates inequality and bubbles.
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Old 02-07-2016, 09:53 AM   #80
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The Federal government can currently borrow across the yield curve at real interest rates of less than 1%. At that cost of capital, any spending that yields any positive value basically pays for itself.

Short of piling up stacks of cash and setting it on fire, the federal government should be showering money on any project that has even a modest return on investment. And they should keep doing that until there are no more sub 1% return investments to fund or the bond market tells them to stop by raising the cost of capital.
This, 100% this. And austerity causes WAY more issues than it helps, at least for economically responsible countries.

But this whole argument is really kind of irrelevant when you realize that Congress has a vested interest in spreading money around as much as possible to buy votes. All you have to do is look at the fighter planes etc. that are bought, with money spread across multiple contractors in multiple states (that the Pentagon repeatedly says we don't need). That alone makes deficit spending inevitable regardless of what one wing of the spectrum wants.

Getting the debt and spending under control is an academic exercise in other words, not supported by real-world behaviors. You might have some short-term measures such as sequestering but they'll never last.
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