Saturday, May 28, 2011

Nothing is as Sure as U.S. Debt Payments

For all the hype about fiscal deficits, the numbers don't add up to any significant threat to the U.S. economy: The U.S. is highly unlikely to default on its debts, and debts are mostly held by private and public U.S. firms and individuals.

As Ludwig von Mises famously argued, if you print money (or create loans) you'll get inflation, and whoever gets the money first benefits from it most. But whom does inflation hurt? In a global economy, it is the relative debt/capital holdings that matter. These are called "net account balance" and "capital account balance." The U.S. far supersedes other nations in terms of net debt and net capital. What will expanded government purchases do to this dynamic? It depends on where those purchases go. If we look at the current data from the U.S. Treasury, we see that U.S. debt goes primarily to U.S. interests: 70.7 percent of U.S. debt is owed to U.S. firms or individuals.

If we decide to take Rep. Paul Ryan's advice, we will be reducing government purchases that expand net capital in the U.S. and net debt to entities in the U.S. If we follow these plans, the U.S.'s place in the global economy will contract: Capital will leave the nation.

In a nation with fiat currency, the government can simply create money. The trend in government borrowing is a testament to this fact; as Binyamin Appelbaum noted on "NewsHour": "Nothing is as sure in financial markets than that the United States government will repay its debts. And so the government gets the cheapest rates available."

(Originally at Richmond Times Dispatch: Letters to the Editor: Dean Sayers: Nothing is as Sure as U.S. Dept Payments)


  1. There are other things. That if you hear it from the MSM it's not true is a prime example.

  2. Authority gives sanction in fiat. Authority is derived through trust. Fiat currency is valued by trust in production power. If infrastructure of production is weak and the value of education in development declines relative to other producing competitors (i.e. nation states), currency weakens. If more money is printed, fractions of initial value continue to be divided, without any specific gain in infrastructure or education relative to producing competitors, therefore reducing overall trust in each unit of divided currency.


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