Charting The Treasury's Delusions: Tim Geithner's Latest Projections For US Public Debt

Tyler Durden's picture

One of the events that received absolutely no mention last week was the sneakily announced Treasury annual report on public debt this past Friday, alongside the horrendous NFP report. Luckily, courtesy of Congressman Dave Kamp, we have managed to obtain this report which shows the unprecedented level of delusion that exists at all levels of our administration. In a nutshell, the attached report pretends to forecast US debt and GDP levels. What it doesn't pretend to do, is to be the work product of a variety of pathological liars. Even as Geithner anticipates US total debt to hit $19.6 trillion by the end of 2015, somehow, in some parallel universe, he also anticipates US GDP will rise at a 5% CAGR for the next five years! Total US GDP, which was at $14.2 trillion for 2009, is expected to ramp up by 2.7% in 2010, and then really put on the afterburners in 2011 through 2015, averaging almost 6% each year, and hitting a stunning $19.2 trillion in 2015. The ridiculousness of this assumption is beyond comprehension. And even so, total debt/GDP will still be over 100% per the government's baseline assumptions. Alternatively, if one assumes, as PIMCO does, a GDP growth rate of 1.5% for the next 4-5 years courtesy of the 10% unemployment "new normal", total debt-GDP will hit 126% in 5 years. And this obviously excludes GSE, SSN and Medicare off balance sheet debt. Lastly, the Treasury assumes that even with 100% Debt to GDP, the funding cost on US market debt in 2015 will be only 4.7%, compared to the 1990-2009 average of 5.9%.

The chart below shows the US Treasury's baseline estimate. Keep in mind total debt will realistically be much higher than what is projected here. One notable observation is that the Treasury assumes that Intergovernmental Debt (i.e. funding for trust funds such as SSN etc), will only rise at around 4.5% each year.  This is another chimera that will promptly blow up in the administration's face, now that SSN is net cashflow negative for the first time in history, and will need constant cash replenishment from the Treasury.

So far so good. Where things get very surreal is when the government attempts to project GDP for the next five years. As the chart below shows, Geithner believes that after a minor dip in 2009, GDP will continue growing, and in fact, for four of the projected years, overtake the 1990-2009 average of 4.9%!

So instead of taking the government's word for GDP growth, we have decided to adjust the growth rate at a fixed 1.5%. We show the resulting Debt-to-GDP ratio below for both the government's baseline and our adjusted case. The difference in 2015 is material: 101% versus 126%.

The previous chart ties in directly with the next set of critical data: the government's expected all-in blended interest rate on the marketable debt. As the chart below demonstrates, the Treasury anticipates having interest expense outlays exploding from $201.5 billion in 2009 to $653.6 billion. Yet even that amount is a mere 4.7% of the total projected outstanding marketable debt in 2015, which is well-below the 5.9% the US paid in interest on its debt between 1990 and 2019, when debt-to-GDP peaked at 83%.

Here once again we construct a more draconian scenario, in which we assume that the interest rate on debt increases at 1% each year after 2009, starting at 4% in 2010 and growing until it hits 9% in 2015. As the chart below shows, the result of this scenario would be a catastrophe for the US and its already untenable budget.

Our take home from this compendium of incredulous data, is that there is no way in hell for the US to hit any of its estimates for future funding and outflow, except for one case: if the US continues to be the capital safe haven for the next five years. This means that it will be in the US' interest to generate ongoing solvency, liquidity and geopolitical tensions for the next 5 years and likely much longer. Another benefit - the US defense sector's taxable net incomes will soar. All this is completely independent of any debate on whether the US will see inflation or deflation. As we have seen over the past year, even as stocks have been incorrectly pricing in a return of moderate inflation, Treasury rates have hit record lows, primarily as the fixed income market has continued seeing Treasuries as the last safe refuge. Look for this to only become more acute as increasingly more baby boomers retire. Yet the one virtually certain component of the UST's forecast is that conflict and international "contagion" will be a critical part of the equation should the Treasury wish to retain any semblance of control over its even near-term projections. How much of this will be accelerated by the administration, is a topic for another day.

Full report:


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carbonmutant's picture

"Hey, Work with me on this..." -TG

BlackBeard's picture

Yeah... sure...whatever the fuck Timmy.

Assetman's picture

Well, at least Timmy is consistent.


But consistent.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

That is until the maniac(s) explode and we're all showered with a mix of human brains and fiat currency.

I just can't get over the idea that some of these people actually believe what they're saying. The beauty of insanity is that it's perfect in form and function. It's self sustaining and ignores all contrary evidence to it's continued existence.

carbonmutant's picture

Damn, that sounds like religion...

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

All I see are Olympic ski jumps as far as the eye can see.

This won't end well, but it most definitely will end somewhere somehow.

BTW I end my day with 30 minutes of fiction reading before turning out the light. Looks like I have a few weeks worth here.

CoopDeluxe's picture

I believe this could be classified under sci-fi too under the Dewey decimal system.

Howard_Beale's picture

Unfortunately, it's the Special Olympic ski jump for quadriplegics. Right there with the blind hurdle racers. Yeah, I know, I'm deranged. 

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I simply MUST remember not to be eating or drinking anything when I read your posts. You're dangerous to my health. :>)

Double down's picture

Wholeheartedly agree.  That is what avatars are for.

knukles's picture

Mayhaps a revised job description for Sec Treas.  Qualifications Must Include Competency.

LeBalance's picture

"What we have here is a failure to communicate, some men you just can't reach.  So you get what we have here today.  Now I don't like this anymore than you men."

What we have here is an N-dimensional Event Horizon.  All dimensions are being carefully orchestrated for maximum Wile E. Coyote effect.

Remember how in some Coyote events, he would hit the ground and that would be the end of the segment, but in others there would be a see saw, a rolling rock, a swinging log, a truck from a painted tunnel?  N-dimensional.  It's a party!

The Rogue Trader's picture

Thank you...awesome and sobbering

DosZap's picture

Tyler, here are some more FUN FACTS from Casey.

Scroll down...............This where we're AT, and where we have been......

RobotTrader's picture

As if all that debt really matters?

10-yrs. just went flying off the shelves, 300% oversubscribed, at 40-year low rates.

I'm sure Bernanke is not the least bit worried.

As we lurch from crisis to crisis, the bid for Treasuries will be permanently sustained.

Just more "Wash, Rinse, Repeat"....


Sudden Debt's picture

Do what every American does. Stop paying the bills and go on a Ipad buying spree with the available cash!


trav7777's picture

The State and FBI are contemplating the best way to "approach" Wikileaks to prevent disclosure??!!?!

WTF...they really don't know, do they?

They'll have to approach with lead at high speed or threaten to kill his family.

Rusty Shorts's picture

HAAAAHAHAHAAAAAA, this is just too good.


“If he really had access to these cables, we've got a terrible situation on our hands," said an American diplomat. "We're still trying to figure out what he had access to. A lot of my colleagues overseas are sweating this out, given what those cables may contain.”


- I can see them now, sitting around in a think tank, wringing their do we do now, shut down the internets??

seventree's picture

From the New Yorker:

No Secrets: Julian Assange’s mission for total transparency.

The most mutually hostile governments in the world agree on the sanctity of state secrets. I wonder how long this can go on.

Rick64's picture

All staff who deal with sources are accredited journalists. All submissions establish a journalist-source relationship. Online submissions are routed via Sweden and Belgium which have first rate journalist-source shield laws. In Sweden, not only does the law provide protection against any official inquiry into journalists’ sources, but it allows a source whose identity has been revealed without permission to initiate criminal prosecutions against an unfaithful journalist who has breached his or her promise of confidentiality.


Rick64's picture

Geithner can't even do his own taxes right and he is doing projections on the U.S. budget?

cowdiddly's picture

+1000 He lied on that to.

Anonymouse's picture

It's ok.  He used Turbo Tax to model the revenues in this report

TheGoodDoctor's picture

+34,000! Isn't that what he owed? I can't believe they believe this shit themselves.

jkruffin's picture

It's doable, if they crash the DOW to 1000 and pile everyone into treasuries for 5 yrs while the market goes nowhere the whole time.  But Benny Boy keeps pumping stocks, so something has to give.

centerline's picture

Bread and circuses. Perhaps the stock market is just a circus. Dumb money and 'puters doing a big BB circle jerk around the toilet drain. Dead cat bounce. .... just thinking. sort of. maybe.

Howard_Beale's picture

Let's see...(rounded) Dow 12,200 to 9750. S&P 1220 to 1040. Yeah, he's pumping away.

When you all get over your whiplash from the March 09 to April 2010 BMR, you will once again realize that market forces are bigger than the Fed, or any central bank.

Ragnar D's picture

Well hey, you can't blame them for racing as fast as they can to get government larger than the market.

They did it in Chicago (Detroit, Newark, Baltimore, Philly, New Orleans), so now they're taking that model nationwide.


Once Fedzilla payrolls exceed those of private industry (or S&P capitalization is lower than government's budget, whichever), they'll finally have that sweet sweet Control over everything.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"Your f**king up the rotation. Puff puff, give. Puff puff give."

Winston Smith 2009's picture

No, he watched this and incorrectly thought the answer was "no":

Sudden Debt's picture

In my country Belgium they wonder why to do a austerity programm and not just spend more because they also think that in 2015 all will be well.

2015 seems to be the magic year :)

centerline's picture

That Mayan 2012 thing is spooky though.

What_Me_Worry's picture

Yes, every country must be pointing to the US and saying "but they get to pretend!"

If America jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?  Apparently, the answer that most foreign governments/citizens would give right now would be "yes, point me to that bridge".

LeBalance's picture

Ummmm.....Identity issue: the Owners are on one team and the peons are on the other team.  There is no EU or US, just peons and owners.  Changes how one's thoughts are framed.

Ragnar D's picture

Hang on a second.  How can the Euro-Peons be mimicking us, if all we've been doing the past couple years is copying their stagnant model?

It's like trying to follow someone from in front of them.

baserunr's picture

Hence the term "Circle-Jerk". Or circle the jerks, or watch the circling jerks, or something like that.....

knukles's picture

Early Pre-Mesastoic Calculation Technology.

God I love the Product of Syllogistic Logic Based Upon Flawed Assumptions 

DosZap's picture

And as another member posted, Bernake doesn't understand WHY the flight to Gold............

How about doing that, and changing your underwear, after this.

Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

In context, he doesn't understand why the price is going up WHEN HE IS SELLING SO MUCH OF IT.  "Greenie told me that all I had to do to hold the price down was to sell gold.  Shiet!"

Note to BS, when you are not actually moving the gold, and it is only a notation on a ledger, no body gives a rats ass.

contrabandista13's picture

the devil is always in the assumptions....

MarketTruth's picture


Timmy used the newest version of Turbo Treasury and all the numbers worked out fine.

Rick64's picture

When have these motherfuckers ever got any of their projections right? This is a pacifier for America to suck on until they do their next projections and nobody will question them about the these projections. On and on and on.

101 years and counting's picture

Clearly ZH is falling into the hopium camp.  1.5% GDP growth going forward looks very rosy to me.

akak's picture

That was my thought exactly.

Just with the government's laughably downward manipulations of the CPI, they can arbitrarily define reported GDP upward as far as they find convenient.  REAL GDP is already negative, and has been for most of the last decade.  And that doesn't even go into the insanity of ADDING governmental spending (borrowing) into GDP, when in fact it should be subtracted!