Tag Archives: Deficits

New Age Fiscal Stimulus Is Unprecedented — And Ominous, by John Rubino

Governments are running recession-style deficits when their economies are supposedly healthy. What happens when they run into actual recessions? From John Rubino at dollarcollapse.com:

In a normal business cycle, the economy expands for a while and businesses hire lots of new people at somewhat higher wages, generating enough tax revenue to shrink the government’s budget deficit – and in rare cases produce a surplus. So, for a while, the government borrows less money.

Not this time. The current recovery is nearly ten years old and the labor market is so tight that desperate companies are trying all kinds of new tricks to attract workers – including higher wages.

Yet the US just announced its intention to borrow $1.3 trillion in this fiscal year, the most since the depths of the Great Recession.

And this isn’t a one-shot deal. Trillion-dollar deficits are now projected for as far as the eye can see:

US projected budget deficts new age fiscal

What does this mean? The US has decided that since we’ve borrowed a lot of money in the past and are still here, debt must not matter. Voters don’t care, the markets don’t care, so why not spend money we don’t have on cool stuff in the here-and-now. A new generation of super-weapons? Sure. A wall across 3,000 miles of southern border, check. Tax cuts for people who already more than they’re able to spend? Why not?

But here’s the problem – or the short-term one, anyhow: Using debt to push an expansion beyond its natural lifetime (this one is approaching the longest ever) makes the imbalances that normally end expansions much, much worse. The aforementioned labor shortage, for instance, will only become more extreme if the economy keeps growing. Interest rates, already rising, will keep going up.

10-year Treasury note yield new age fiscal

To continue reading: New Age Fiscal Stimulus Is Unprecedented — And Ominous

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Doug Casey on Trump’s Presidency So Far

President Trump pisses off all the right people, but Doug Casey doesn’t like the deficits. From Doug Casey at caseyresearch.com:

Justin: Doug, what do you think of Trump’s presidency so far? What’s he done well? Where’s he fallen short?

Doug: Let me start by saying that I’m very pleased that Trump was elected because, first and foremost, he’s not Hillary. In addition, he’s never been in political office. So he lacks some of the vices common to professional politicians. Even better, all members of the Deep State reflexively hate him.

That’s a good thing, because there’s some truth to the meme “the enemy of my enemy just might be my friend.”

I also like some of the things Trump’s done since he’s been in office—besides driving liberals and Deep Staters insane. He’s done some deregulating—not nearly enough, but he’s moved in the right direction. Of course, he did this not because he understands Austrian economics, but simply because he’s a businessman. He has some personal experience with the destructiveness of regulations.

Of course, he hasn’t done nearly enough yet. He’s just mowing the grass and trimming the hedges. He should be pulling these things out by their roots and sowing Agent Orange where they grew.

The same goes for taxes. His tax cut was helpful, but not drastic. And there hasn’t been a cut in spending. In fact he’s significantly increasing spending. So the tax cut is mainly cosmetic. The government will extract those resources from the economy, mainly by selling more debt.

Justin: And where has he fallen short or failed?

Doug: A number of ways, starting with running a trillion-dollar deficit. Where does he think that money’s going to come from? The Russians and the Chinese aren’t buying US debt anymore. Foreigners are looking to offload US paper.

Americans aren’t buying much, either. The only real alternative is to sell it to the Federal Reserve. Which is a real problem when the Federal Reserve is not only trying to deleverage, but has to refinance hundreds of billions of short-term paper coming due. Recall that almost all the $20 trillion of Treasury debt is very short term. Interest rates are going to rise, a lot. And so will the interest portion of the government deficit. Interest payments alone will be a trillion a year by the end of Trump’s second term—assuming he gets one.

To continue reading: Doug Casey on Trump’s Presidency So Far

Government’s already-dismal budget forecast just got 106% worse, by Simon Black

Washington plans to spend even more money it doesn’t have than recent forecasts indicated. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

Yesterday the Office of Management and Budget released a new report called the “Mid-Session Review” of the US federal budget.

It’s something they’re required by law to do– periodically review and update the government’s budget and track the changes.

The last government budget update was released in February. And according to the February budget, the government’s deficit for this fiscal year was going to be a whopping $873 billion.

Now they’re projecting to close this fiscal year (which ends on September 30th) with a deficit of $890 billion… which means they’re over-budget by just under 2%.

2% is actually pretty good. But here’s the problem: when they first unveiled the FY2018 budget in March of last year, they projected the annual deficit to be ‘only’ $440 billion.

So between their initial projections in March 2017, and their current projections in July 2018, this year’s budget deficit increased by more than 100%.

And that’s pretty pitiful.

But it gets worse.

Last March, they projected a total budget deficit of $526 billion for Fiscal Year 2019.

But according to the revised projections they published yesterday, the budget deficit for Fiscal Year 2019 will now be $1.085 TRILLION… 106% worse than projected.

And, whereas last year the government was forecasting DECLINING deficits in Fiscal Years 2020, 2021, etc., until miraculously reaching a positive budget SURPLUS of +16 billion in 2026, their updated projections now show TRILLION DOLLAR DEFICITS next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. Etc.

Bear in mind that even though this revised budget is a colossal train wreck, the projections still don’t factor in the possibility of a recession. War. Major emergency. Natural disaster. Financial crisis.

These forecasts assume that all big picture and macroeconomic trends are going to be fantastic for the next decade.

We’ve lately been talking about the concept of assets being ‘priced to perfection’.

‘Priced to perfection’ is a financial term meaning that assets are valued as if business conditions will be perfect forever.

Investors simply assume that the business plan will be successfully achieved without any difficulty, that sales will be strong, consumers will be happy, the economy will remain robust, etc.

And as a result of these pie-in-the-sky assumptions, investors pay record high prices for assets.

Well, these budget projections are priced for perfection.

To continue reading: Government’s already-dismal budget forecast just got 106% worse

The New Handmaids of the Warfare State – Dems and the Liberal Media, by David Stockman

Once upon a time prominent Democrats and liberals almost reflexively opposed the military and the intelligence agencies. No more, now they are some of their biggest supporters. From David Stockman at antiwar.com:

If you want to know why America is going to hell in a fiscal hand basket, it’s because the last vestige of opposition to the Warfare State and the fiscal muggings of the military/industry/intelligence complex has utterly evaporated.

We are referring, of course, to the delirious Russophobia that has overtaken the Dems and the liberal media since they had the daylights shocked out of them by the 2016 election – a state of mental derangement that has degenerated into downright hysteria since the Helsinki Summit.

It had already been the case that anti-Russian policy actions (e.g. sanctions) pass through the Congress with bipartisan greased lightening, and defense appropriations had exploded to the highest level in postwar history in real terms.

In fact, the $716 billion just approved for FY 2019 compared to a constant dollar level of just $550 billion (2018$) in FY 1990 – the final year before the Soviet Union with its 55,000 tanks and 9,000 nuclear warheads slithered off the pages of history.

So we are already spending 30% more than at the peak of the Cold War, but you haven’t seen nothing yet. Not now that Rachel Maddow and Anderson Cooper have become rabid war hawks, virtually begging for military confrontation with Russia and its pipsqueak economy and pint-sized military.

As we keep mentioning, the GDP of the NATO-29 is $36 trillion, and that is 26Xthat of Russia. Likewise, when you add the NATO-28’s military spending of $280 billion to Washington’s humungous defense budget, the total is nigh on to $1 trillion per year – or 16X Russia’s entire military expenditure of $61 billion per annum.

We emphasize this massive imbalance of economic resources and military might as between NATO and Russia because it is the very reason why the bellicosity and fiscal largesse from Capitol Hill won’t diminish any time soon. That is to say, the Imperial City politicians are in a full frontal bully mode because they believe (not unreasonably) that the can huff, puff and spend with relative impunity.

This is not at all like the days of the real cold war in the 1960s and 1970s when America actually did face a deadly dangerous enemy; and when it was also evident to most rational people that rash provocations could be fatal and that the Cold War was something to be vigilantly endured, not won.

To continue reading: The New Handmaids of the Warfare State – Dems and the Liberal Media

Tax Cuts Work, by Daniel Lacalle

Tax cuts in our overtaxed world often result in increased government revenues. Expanding deficits are often the result of spending increases greater than the increased revenue. From Daniel Lacalle at theepochtimes.com:

It happened again. Tax receipts soared in the United States after the recent tax cuts.

Although it will take a while for the full effect of the 2017 tax reform to kick in, U.S. state and local government tax revenue climbed to $350.2 billion in the first quarter of 2018, a rise of 5.8 percent compared with the same time period in 2017. Individual income tax collections had big gains for a second-straight quarter with a 12.8 percent increase to $107.4 billion in 2018’s first quarter.

But the evidence of the positive impact on growth, jobs, and wages of lower corporate taxes has been published in many studies over time. The example of more than 200 cases in 21 countries shows that tax cuts and expenditure reductions are much more effective in boosting growth and prosperity than increasing government spending.

Multiple studies conclude that in more than 170 cases, the impact of tax cuts has been much more positive for growth.

In Denial

However, some commentators continue to deny the positive impact of tax cuts using the argument that deficits rise.

The fallacy that “deficits rise” has nothing to do with tax cuts, but with increases in government spending on top of the tax cuts.

The deficit excuse is very simple. It says taxes should not be cut because governments will spend all revenues, even if these increase, and more. But this excuse is wrong.

The mistake of pointing at deficits as proof that tax cuts don’t work is debunked by looking at the proposals of the same economists that argue against tax cuts. Economist Paul Krugman is one example. He argued against tax cuts in his New York Times article “Time to Borrow” after the Obama administration increased debt by $10 trillion. These demand-side economists defend deficit spending, yet consider tax cuts as negative … because deficits may increase. Only Keynesian economists manage to pull off such mindbending logic.

Deficits need not rise or exist at all if governments spend in line with revenue growth. And the evidence points to rising revenues from lower taxes and higher growth.

To continue reading: Tax Cuts Work

Critical Mass: When Will Investors Care About The Dollar Shortage Crisis? by Adem Tumerkan

Investors may not care about an impending dollar shortage until there aren’t enough dollars around to drive markets higher. From Adem Tumerkan at palisade-research.com:

Former Federal Reserve Chairman – Ben ‘Helicopter’ Bernanke – just threw cold water on the mainstream growth narrative. He said the economy by 2020 is going to go right over the cliff.

Although rarely – I do agree with Helicopter Ben about something. . .

President Trump’s $1.5 trillion in personal and corporate tax cuts – plus $300 billion in increased federal spending – was done at the “very wrong moment.”

The huge tax cuts and government spending requires a significant amount of new debt to be issued, all while the Fed’s tightening and unwinding their balance sheet via Quantitative Tightening (QT). 

This is going to cause an evaporation of dollar liquidity – making the markets extremely fragile.

Putting it simply – the soaring U.S. deficit requires an even greater amount dollars from foreigners to fund the U.S. Treasury. But if the Fed is shrinking their balance sheet, that means the bonds they’re selling to banks are sucking dollars out of the economy (the reverse of Quantitative Easing which was injecting dollars into the economy). This is creating a shortage of U.S. dollars – the world’s reserve currency – therefore affecting every global economy.

This illiquidity is going to cause the oil that greases the wheels of markets to dry up – fast.

So, with the dollar shortage making matters worse – we also have that there’s never been a time when the Fed began tightening and it didn’t lead to negative economic growth or a market crisis.

The historic evidence of the Fed’s rate hikes – and the inverting yield curve – right before a recession is irrefutable.

Take a look at over the last 40 years. . .

As the Fed continues their rate hikes and QT, the over-indebted system becomes illiquid and more fragile. Things will eventually crack.

The protégé of Austrian Economist Ludwig Von Mises – Murray Rothbard – once asked a series of questions that stumped many economists defending the Fed.

From his book America’s Great Depression, he called these ‘The Sudden Cluster of Errors’, which were. . .

1. Most businesses in the economy generate steady profits and can service their debts fine. Then suddenly, without warning, conditions change, and the bulk of businesses begin posting huge losses and can’t pay their creditors.

2. How did all these astute business men, MBA graduates, and ‘professional’ forecasters make such huge errors together. And – most importantly – why did it all suddenly happen at this particular time?

3. Why do the capital goods industries – raw materials, construction, etc – fluctuate much more wildly than the consumer goods industries? During recessions you see home construction firms belly up, but places like GAP and Hollister survive.

The explanation is the Fed’s artificial moving of rates up after keeping them down for years triggers the harsh bust.

To continue reading: Critical Mass: When Will Investors Care About The Dollar Shortage Crisis?

Breaking down America’s worst long-term challenges: #1- Debt. By Simon Black

Debt is the US’s worst long-term challenge, and it leaves all the others in the dust. From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

On October 22, 1981, the national debt in the United States crossed the $1 trillion threshold for the first time in history.

It took nearly two centuries to reach that unfortunate milestone.

And over that time the country had been through a revolution, civil war, two world wars, the Great Depression, the nuclear arms race… plus dozens of other wars, financial panics, and economic crises.

Today, the national debt stands at more than $21 trillion– a milestone hit roughly two months ago.

This means that the government added $20 trillion to the national debt in the 37 years between October 22, 1981 and March 15, 2018.

That’s an average of nearly $1.5 BILLION added to the national debt every single day… $62 million per hour… $1 million per minute… and more than $17,000 per SECOND.

But the problem for the US government is that this trend has grown worse over the years.

It took only 214 days for the government to go from $20 trillion in debt to $21 trillion in debt– less than eight months to add a trillion dollars to the national debt.

That’s an average of almost $52,000 per second.

Think about that: on average, the US national debt increases by more in a split second than the typical American worker earns in an entire year.

And there is no end in sight.

At 105% of GDP, America’s national debt is already larger than the size of the entire US economy. (By comparison the national debt was just 31% of GDP in 1981.)

Plus, the government’s own projections show a steep increase to the debt in the coming years and decades.

The Treasury Department has already estimated that it will borrow $1 trillion this fiscal year, $1 trillion next year, and another trillion dollars the year after that.

They’re also forecasting the national debt to exceed $30 trillion by 2025.

To be fair, debt isn’t always bad. In fact, sometimes debt can be useful.

Businesses and individuals use debt all the time to shrewdly finance productive investments.

Real estate investors, for instance, often borrow most of the money they need to purchase a property once they determine that the rental income should more than cover the debt service.

In this way, when applied prudently, debt can actually help build wealth.

To continue reading: Breaking down America’s worst long-term challenges: #1- Debt