The deficit and the national debt won’t matter until they matter. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
The gaping US budget deficit hole is getting bigger with each passing month.
Earlier today, the US Treasury announced that in January (the fourth month of fiscal 2020), the US spent $32.6 billion more than it pulled in, resulting in a deficit that was materially worse than the $11.5BN expected, and also the biggest January deficit since 2011, when the US government spent a net of $49.8 billion.
Total December spending of $405 billion, was 8.8% higher than a year earlier, with the biggest outlays for the month as follows: social security ($91BN), medicare ($87BN), national defense ($53BN), Health ($49BN), Income Security ($39BN), Net Interest ($32BN)and so forth. Meanwhile, receipts increased by a slightly higher 9.5%, from $340BN to $372.3BN, thanks to $217BN in individual income taxes, and $121BN in Social insurance and retirement receipts.
To universal acclaim, Trump has obliterated whatever remained of the Tea Party’s fixation on federal debt. From Peter Schiff at europac.com:
After claiming to be the greatest at just about everything, Donald Trump has finally found an area where he can stake a credible claim. By negotiating a disastrous budget deal with Democrats, the President could become the greatest creator of government debt in the history of the country. While Trump is selling the two-year deal as a major victory because it increases military spending and removes the possibility of a government shutdown for two years, in reality, the agreement to suspend the debt ceiling and push annual deficits even further above the trillion dollar mark may only succeed in destroying the Republican Party as we know it.
The Tea Party wave of 2009 and 2010, a Republican movement born in reaction to the budget blowouts of the Obama Presidency, is now officially dead. It’s ironic that as Trump hammered the final nail into the Tea Party’s coffin, no one seemed happier than the corpse itself! There was hardly a word of discomfort from all the Republican Senators and Congressmen who had so loudly railed against debt when the other party occupied the White House. There is simply no legitimate way that Republicans will ever be able to argue again that they are the party of fiscal discipline. They may try, but only the most partisan and credulous voters will buy it.
CNBC’s Rick Santelli, the unofficial godfather of the Tea Party, should at least speak a few words at its funeral, and perhaps take the opportunity to reconsider his admiration for the man who murdered it. But don’t hold your breath. Trump has accomplished something Obama never could: convincing Republicans to abandon any remaining conservative principals to support massive increases in the size of government, without any regard for how much money will have to be borrowed to make it possible!
As I laid out in a commentary I wrote just before Trump took office in January of 2017, Republican bona fides on the issue of fiscal responsibility were never that strong to begin with. In fact, deficits have tended to expand faster under Republican presidents. Given the reputation of each party this may strike some as a surprise. But it makes sense when you consider the politics.
The new Chicago mayor wants the rest of the state to pay for Chicago’s profligacy. From Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner at wirepoints.org
It didn’t take long for new Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to propose a plan that would wash her hands of Chicago’s pension crisis altogether. According to a recent report in Crain’s, Lightfoot wants the state to take over Chicago’s pension debts and merge them with the other pension plans throughout the state. The move would make all state taxpayers responsible for paying down the city’s debts.
The plan to shift city debts to the state would bail out the mayor from having to raise about $1 billion in additional taxes to pay for increasing pension costs by 2023. A massive tax hike is something she’s desperate to avoid.
But while Lightfoot may think the cost-shift is a solution, it will only make things worse for Illinois. She should expect significant pushback from many sides.
Start with downstate and suburban residents. Sure, their public safety pension funds would get consolidated under the state, too, but it’s the Chicago funds that are some of the biggest and worst-funded in the state. The four city-run funds are collectively funded at just 27 percent and face an official shortfall of $28 billion.
In contrast, the 650 downstate pension plans are 55 percent funded and have a shortfall of nearly $10 billion. The end result of any statewide pooling of pension funds will be a net bailout for Chicago.
Non-Chicagoans aren’t going to just accept yet another bailout of the city. Downstaters’ most recent bailout of Chicago came when the state’s new education funding formula locked in special subsidies for Chicago Public Schools. That included hundreds of millions in hold-harmless funding as well as $200 million-plus annually to pay for the district’s pension costs.
There’s no way out if the debt hole the US government has dug itself. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:
This article explains why the US Government is ensnared in a debt trap from which there is no escape. Its finances are spiralling out of control. In the context of a rapidly slowing global economy, the budget deficit can only be financed by QE and bank credit expansion. Do not draw comfort from trade protectionism: it will not prevent the trade deficit increasing at the expense of domestic production, unless you believe there will be an unlikely resurgence in personal saving rates. We can now begin to see how the debt crisis will evolve, leading to the destruction of the dollar.
At the time of writing (Thursday April 24) bond yields are crashing, the euro has broken down against the dollar and equities are hitting new highs. Obviously, equities are taking their queue from bonds. But bond yields are crashing because the global economy is sending some very worrying signals. Equity investors will be hoping monetary easing (which they now fully expect) will kick the can down the road once again and economies will continue to bubble along. They are ignoring some very basic economic facts…
Regular readers of my Insight articles will be aware of strong indications that the expansionary phase of the credit cycle is now over, and that we at grave risk of falling headlong into a global credit and systemic crisis. The underlying condition is that economic actors and their bankers accustomed to credit expansion are beginning to realise the assumptions behind their borrowing commitments earlier in the credit cycle were incorrect.
That’s why it is a credit cycle. It is driven by prior credit expansion which corrals all producers into acting in an expansionary manner at the same time. Random activity, the condition of a true laissez-faire economy, ceases. Instead, credit conditions act on profit-seeking businesses in a state-managed context. Entrepreneurs take the availability of subsidised credit to be a profit-making opportunity. The same cannot be said of governments because they do not seek profits, only revenue.
If a government acts responsibly it should never have to borrow, except perhaps in an emergency, such as to defend the country against invasion. The evolution into unbacked fiat currencies has changed all that by permitting governments to finance themselves through the printing press.
There is only one way a government funds the excess of spending over tax revenue without it being inflationary, and that is to borrow money from savers. There is a downside to this. The government bids for existing savings, including those held in pension and insurance funds, diverting them from other borrowers. In the 1980s this was described as “crowding out” other borrowers and had the effect of increasing interest rates to the point where these other borrowers stop borrowing. In the post-war years, this has been the consequence of spendthrift socialism.
Posted in Business, Collapse, Currencies, Debt, Economics, Economy, Government, Trade
Tagged Budget deficits, Dollar, Inflation, Trade deficits, US government debt