Skip to comments.The Ticking Trillion Dollar Debt Bomb
Posted on 01/18/2013 4:42:25 PM PST by blam
The Ticking Trillion Dollar Debt Bomb
Politics / US DebtJan 18, 2013 - 08:41 AM
By: Graham Summers
Since the EU Crisis went into overdrive in 2010, EU politicians have largely resorted to political posturing rather than implementing any actual financial solutions to the EUs debt and banking crisis.
To clarify that statement, we view a real solution as one that A) cleared bad debts from the system, B) brought debt levels down to manageable levels, and C) got the troubled countrys economy back on track.
By way of example, real solutions would involve outright debt defaults, bank failures, and very likely one or more countries leaving the Euro. However, no major EU leader ever seriously promotes any of these ideas because doing so would akin to committing political suicide as the rest of the political class would blame them for what followed.
As a result, EU politicians continue to kick the can down the road with half-measures such as austerity measures in exchange for bailouts. The end result is that nothing is ever solved as those in charge of the decisions that matter have no incentives to actually do anything beneficial for their countries economies. See Greece whose economy has completely imploded to the point that children are being admitted to hospitals every week for malnutrition and it will still have a Debt to GDP of 120% in 2022!
It is now obvious that US politicians have seen this work well for their European counterparts (nothing gets fixed, not tough choices have to be made and almost no one gets kicked out of office), and are now adopting this strategy on this side of the pond.
Consider the fiscal cliff issue, which our political leaders discussed endlessly for over a month, only to then pass a deal which both raised taxes AND failed to cut the deficit or debt.
Again, nothing solved, but plenty of posturing and blame.
Expect more of this. Today, the top story for the US is gun control even though we will officially breach the debt ceiling in roughly one months time. The last time we did this the US lost one of its AAA ratings from a credit agency and the markets imploded wiping out over a trillion dollars in household wealth in a matter of days.
This time around, things will be far worse if nothing is solved. If the US loses another AAA rating, then the financial markets could face systemic risk. The reason for this is that US Treasuries are one of the senior most forms of collateral used by the banks to backstop the $600+ trillion derivatives market.
As any trader who trades on margin can tell you, when the value of your collateral is called into question, those on the other side of the trade come looking for you to put up more capital on your trades. This can result in assets being sold en masse (similar to what happened after Lehman failed) and things can get very ugly very fast.
Another consequence of the US losing another AAA rating would be a potential spike in interest rates as a result of us having a lower credit rating. A 100 basis point move higher in interest rates means the US paying another $100+ billion in interest payments on its debt. The US is slated to pay some $300+ billion in interest payments in 2013. This amount could explode higher if interest rates rose.
We already have a Debt to GDP ratio of over 100%. Our deficit to GDP is nearly 10%. These are Greece type levels. And while the US has several advantages Greece does not (it produces the reserve currency of the world and is also the largest economy), the bond markets can be very unforgiving of fiscal profligacy.
But US politicians dont care. They know that the US economy is a disaster and will be getting worse. The issue for them is not fixing this, but shifting the blame for whats coming onto the other party.
Bottomline: the US debt situation is not going to be brought under control. Well either breach the debt ceiling or pass some hurried bill to raise it. Neither of these will help our credit rating or our fiscal issues.
Buckle up, 2013 is going to be an interesting year.
This will end badly. Just look at the numbers.
1/18/2013 03:19:00 PM
It looks like economic growth will pickup over the next few years. I've written about this before - a combination of growth in the key housing sector, a significant amount of household deleveraging behind us, the end of the drag from state and local government layoffs (four years of austerity nearing the end), some loosening of household credit, and the Fed staying accommodative (with a 7.8% unemployment rate and inflation below the Fed's target, the Fed will remain accommodative)
. The key short term risk is too much additional deficit reduction too quickly. There is a strong argument that the "fiscal agreement" might be a little too much with the current unemployment rate - my initial estimate was that Federal government austerity would subtract about 1.5 percentage points from growth in 2013 (Merrill Lynch estimate up to 2.0 percentage points including an estimate for the coming sequester agreement). This means another year of sluggish growth, even with an improved private sector (retail will be impacted by the payroll tax increase). But ex-austerity, we'd probably be looking at a decent year.
This graph shows total and single family housing starts. Even after the 28.1% in 2012, the 780 thousand housing starts in 2012 were the fourth lowest on an annual basis since the Census Bureau started tracking starts in 1959. Starts averaged 1.5 million per year from 1959 through 2000. Demographics and household formation suggests starts will return to close to that level over the next few years. That means starts will come close to doubling from the 2012 level.
Residential investment and housing starts are usually the best leading indicator for economy, so this suggests the economy will continue to grow over the next couple of years.
More half truths,
Our debt based monetary system using fractional reserve lending REQUIRES a NEVER ENDING “Exponential” Growth of DEBT until It Collapses under it’s own weight. It is a MATHEMATICAL CERTAINTY. For those that do not understand BASIC 5TH GRADE mathematics, no explanation is possible, for those that do no explanation is necessary.