We are being bombarded daily with breathy articles about a United States groaning under deficits that surely signal bankruptcy, Social Security checks that eventually won’t clear, and of course a looming financial crisis…Much of this commentary is well written – it certainly is popular – but it is total nonsense. [Let me explain.] Words: 960
So says John Tamny (www.realclearmarkets.com) in an article* which Lorimer Wilson, editor of www.munKNEE.com, has further edited ([ ]), abridged (…) and reformatted below for the sake of clarity and brevity to ensure a fast and easy read. Please note that this paragraph must be included in any article re-posting to avoid copyright infringement. Tamny goes on to say:
Problems with the Bankrupt Narrative
- The first problem [is] that the deepest, most informed markets in the world disagree. If U.S. finances were really as bad as the commentariat suggest… Treasuries would be in freefall. Indeed, be it an individual, a company or a country, truly bankrupt entities can’t borrow at low rates of interest. By virtue of being insolvent and unable to pay back debts, bankruptcy causes borrowing rates to rise, and in a very big way. That the U.S. Treasury continues (sadly) to borrow large amounts of money, and that investors line up for the privilege to purchase the debt, tells us that those who regularly dine out on the bankruptcy concept should temper their rhetoric. They should [understand] that, as large as the Treasury’s debts are, basic economic models [show] that the debt could be paid off with ease over time as long as the U.S. economy grows in the 3% range .
- If the debt is what concerns people, the simple answer is to unshackle the individuals who comprise the U.S. economy by reducing tax rates and regulations, providing freer trade and a stable dollar thereby allowing the productive to produce the revenues necessary to pay off the government debt that we worry too much. [That] being said, any tax plan, be it lower or higher rates (both can work) used to goose revenues, should be looked at with skepticism. Politicians, irrespective of party, always spend the revenues that reach them, so the better long-term plan is to cut tax rates so low that revenues actually decline, and do this in concert with spending decreases that bring the federal government within its constitutional limits. We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.
- Many argue that a crisis awaits [because of] the size of our national debt growing as a percentage of the U.S. economy. Their muse in this regard is a recent and very worthwhile book by economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, This Time Is Different, in which Reinhart and Rogoff note an historical correlation between country debt reaching 100% of GDP, and default. The problem with [their analysis] is that the United States is not just any country. Filled with arguably the greatest collection of minds and entrepreneurs in the world (the number would be even larger absent a silly American aversion to immigration), debt that forces other countries to default can’t fell a country stocked with such amazing wealth producers.
What the Real Problems Are
Rather than argue that the looming crisis for the U.S. is the day that investors tire of U.S. debt, the scaremongers in our midst should reorient their narrative. The true crisis at present is all the government capital waste and destruction that has prevented a myriad of Microsofts, Googles and Intels from ever seeing the light of day thanks to our federal government consuming so much limited capital. Similarly the crisis is an individual one when we consider the millions of Americans who might be doing things that are actually stimulative to the economy and to their self esteem were they not working for the government.
In short, the crisis is decidedly not the day when investors turn the other cheek to the issuance of government debt. Instead, the crisis we’re experiencing is in the here and now as an ever expanding government and its gargantuan need for capital smothers true entrepreneurialism, and the productive jobs that entrepreneurs create.
America is not bankrupt, and it’s not close to being that way. Rather than fear the “bankruptcy” day that never seems to come, it’s time to change the discussion to the greater truth that the U.S. was a nation founded on limited government, and if we return to just that prosperity will be our reward along with freedom from all the silly articles about America being broke.