Guest Post: The Dirty Secret of the Debt Ceiling Debate: Nobody Wants Treasuries

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Mark McHugh

The Dirty Secret of the Debt Ceiling Debate: Nobody Wants Treasuries

On this side of the rainbow, “How much
money should an uncreditworthy entity be allowed to borrow?”  is a
rhetorical question.  In Washington DC, it’s a topic of much
rhetoric.  In fiscal year 2009 Congress borrowed 53.5 cents of every dollar they spent.  In FY2010 they borrowed 48 cents of every dollar (*check your numbers, Santelli).   So they’ve borrowed and spent 3.5 Trillion to produce 255 Billion in GDP growth (7%
efficiency!),  never even bothered to pass a budget  for FY2011, and
still haven’t managed to get a single bankster put in jail.  Now these
whores  are lecturing us about “moral obligations.”   They also swear
they’re gonna straighten up and fly right this time.

There is one little detail they forgot to mention – no one actually wants to lend them money.  Welcome to the last resort.

Everybody knows that the Federal Reserve
has the unique ability to create money out of nothing.  What most don’t
know  is the Fed, not the Treasury, provides most of the explanations
as to who is buying Treasuries (read the footnotes).  So to those who
said, “I told you so!” when the Treasury revised China’s holdings by
$268B in February, welcome to the pee-pee in your coke moment.  That
revision brought China’s purchases to $577B in the two years period
ending June 2010.  That was:

  • More than 5.5% of China’s GDP.
  • 116% of China’s trade surplus with the US.
  • More than 4 times China’s defense budget.

And you swallowed it.  Of course had you
done even a little research you’d have understood that the data is
about as helpful as an eight month old snapshot of the Universe:

collection of accurate country-level data on cross-border financial
activity ranges from straightforward to virtually impossible, depending
on the type of data to be collected and the method of collection”

~From “Why Treasury’s Data is Crap

by The Federal Reserve

can hear you still clinging to your Scooby-Doo thesis, but anyone who
speaks of “demand” in the US Treasury market at all displays their
ignorance.  Like this is some giant game of Hungry, Hungry Hippos.  Take a peak at this report
and you’ll see that ownership is an antiquated concept when discussing 
US debt.  Transactions of long-term Treasuries with foreigners during
the last two fiscal years totaled more than $50 TRILLION, ($160,000 per
US citizen) .  So if you insist on having a six year-old understanding
of things, I suggest  Gnip-Gnop


Speaking of six year-olds, I blame the tooth fairy for
all of this.  Most American children’s first brush with economics is
the notion that somebody or something out there is actually willing to
pay money for their crummy, little teeth.  It is a convenient lie that
distracts children from the pain and anxiety of losing body parts.  Most
of us evolve beyond this delusion, the rest become US congressmen and
TV pundits.  Face it America, no one wants your debt.  The tooth fairy
is all you’ve got left, and it’s been that way for a while.

When I fill up at the local gas station using my debit card, the
money is gone from my account before I can drive home and log on to my
bank’s website (less than 5 minutes).  Details about Treasury purchases
are trickled out at an agonizingly slow pace that literally takes years
to complete.  That’s right, years.  This
time delay, combined with explanations that are vague at
best make intelligent discussion about purchasers of US Treasuries
The more you dig into the data, the less sense it makes.   With the recent release of the Fed’s discount window activity,
I’d like to know how many believe demand for the last 3.5 Trillion of
US debt wasn’t fueled entirely by the Fed.  Now they’re playing Got your nose  with us.

So the next time Maria Bartiroma asks Lady Gaga, or whatever
sock-puppet she happens to have on her show, “Who will buys US
Treasuries when the Fed steps away?” An enlightened response might be,
“I have no idea who was buying US Treasuries before the Fed stepped in.
Do you Maria?” To which she will most likely reply, “So what sectors do
you like going forward?”




*Generally I shy away from correcting hot-headed
Italian-Americans, but I believe Rick Santelli values truth and
accuracy.  I’m not sure how Rick calculated his recent claim that the
government borrows 43 cents of every dollar they spend, but here’s how I
calculated my numbers:

In FY2009 & 2010 government spending was $3.5177T and $3.4558T respectively.

Source: (page 1)

Total borrowing was $1.8851T for FY 2009; $1.6518T for FY 2010

Source: (Table OFS-2)

US GDP 2008: $14.369T (World Bank – 2010 data not available)


US GDP 2010:  $14.624T (IMF)


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cossack55's picture

Manipulating Bitchezzz!!




Wow. Would it not be interesting if the "Tea Party" wing of the Repubs stated that if they raise the debt ceiling the TP will all convert to Independents.  What would that do to control of the House of Horrors? More importantly, would it matter?

bankruptcylawyer's picture

i think they should call themselves the 'no more debt party' that would freak the republicans and the democrats way out , and maybe make room for rand paul to leave the republican party to become an independent. I would like to see a few honest republican and democrat sentators leave and form a party of independents at the national level.  

DeadFred's picture

The boat has sailed, the horse is out of the barn, add few platitudes of your own but we are past the point of fixing this.  Focus on what can happen from here.  At the minimum "what can I do to protect me and my own", but hopefully some will expand that to "what will come after this system fails what can I do to make the transition easier?"  Bullish on pitchforks.

FreedomGuy's picture

Fred, I have been an optimist all my life but I now agree with you. If, just if we had the right people with the right ideas in power right now we'd have a chance, but we do not. Even the well meaning Republicans are too little and too late to do much. A lot of the ideas are wrong and will cause pain, too. Raising retirement ages, means testing...makes it all welfare and raises new problems in the future. No one will downsize government 40-50% which is what is needed. It needs to get down to Constitutional size. No one will escape this mess unscathed. I just want to see some jailed politicians and bankers when it's done. I actually want them to hurt a little too, a nice form of redemption.

Zero Govt's picture

FreedomGuy  - "If we had the right people with the right ideas in power right now we'd have a chance."

Good luck with that 'thinking' ....or is it blind faith and hope based praying?

The premise of all believers in democratic Govt is that the Titanic and its course to the iceberg is 'adjustable'. That the sack of parasitical shit we call Govt is a possible good system and can be steered away from an icy shambolic death by some good men at the helm. What part of your wishful thinking, what shred of realistic evidence, ever gives people like yourself that remotest of all ideas?

The alternate view, one all voters should more seriously consider, grounded in reality and actual experience rather than hope, is that it's not the goodness of the people in Govt that matter, but the badness of the system that is Govt. Govt is structured as a monopoly (parasite) power structure hoarding decision-making for society. Unlike the free market where power is distributed between all the people and producer, which in turn allows all manner of diverse and novel opinions to exist in contrast to the Govts single one-size-fits-all policy. 

The problem with Govt is Govt.

Everything Govt touches turns to crap.

You and 50% of the voters that vote are delusional to think this system will ever work. Face facts the Greeks who thought up this novel idea of resting power away from the people and into an all-knowing, all-wise social structure also couldn't make it work. And this illusory idea hasn't fuking worked on any level or from any angle ever since (ie. Govt is a truly shit idea, RIP).

You're also delusional to ever entrust your best interests with someone elected who you've never met and are never ever likely to have any working relationship with (ie. democratic representation is a joke). Why are you even wishing for someone else to save you and the nation?  

Representative democracy is a sham from start to finish. A free society and free markets do work and do deliver democracy by you representing and governing yourself, no parasitical Govt required




FreedomGuy's picture

I agree with most everything you post. I am not at all delusional. In my other posts I muse that perhaps in a few hundred years we will realize after innumerable failures that the collective does not fact government does not work. It is the immense difference between voluntary and involuntary associations. However, we did it pretty well in 1776 and later with the Constitution strictly limiting the power of government. We set up rational rules for self governing. But even the founders realized that it was an experiment to see if self rule could be successful.

Unfortunately, we are going to prove it unsuccessful at its end. No government seems immune to the frailties of man and the seduction and corruption of power. I even wonder what would happen to an idealistic guy like myself if I had immense power.

The current alternatives to our form of government are worse. I would trust libertarian types, in general because they have the ideological underpinnings to persist in dismantling the leviathan state we've created. I would go with a Ron Paul and similar types. I believe most all the founders would be classified as libertarian, today. After doing my taxes yesterday and paying a breathtaking amount I wish I could trade today for back then. I would trade all the comforts, modern medicine and technology just to be able to do what I want and go where I please and voluntarily make a living with my fellow free man. I would be Nathaniel-Hawkeye in Last of the Mohicans.

I guarantee the founders would never have stood for the absolutely complete intrusion into our lives that we have these days with government. We are in fact subjects today, not citizens. We cannot drive, invest, save, buy, sell, change locations, travel, breathe or eat without government forms and permission. We are in fact, not free any more. What is worse, we accept it. I think the founders would find us a sad docile lot, except for the statists who protest and take over captial buildings to get more of other people's stuff. They are vocal and active, well organized and generally stupendously stupid.

flattrader's picture

I dunno.  Let's start with these fucktards and see what happens.

Thursday morning, ABC’s Good Morning America suggested some of the Tea Party’s leaders have a case of “Hill Hypocrisy” for attacking government spending while taking millions in government money. ABC’s senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl reported “the Tea Party movement is all about slashing federal spending, but at least five House members with Tea Party connections have themselves collected more than $100,000 each in federal farm subsidies, totalling more than $8 million since 1995.”

The subsidies are included in a report out Thursday by the Environmental Working Group. “We need a better system,” said Rep. Stephen Fincher, a Tennessee Republican whose family farm has received more than $3 million in subsidies, with more than $100,000 going directly to the Congressman himself. Asked directly if he’d refuse to take any further subsidies, he dodged the question. Others said the farm subsidies–totalling $16 billion–need to cut if not eliminated.

Watch the story here, from ABC News:

If we cut them off, can we keep the funding for homeless, disabled vets?


goldsaver's picture

Not for the homeless... 

I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the general government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit. A prevalent tendency to disregard the limited mission of this power and duty should, I think, be steadfastly resisted, to the end that the lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the government, the government should not support the people.


Disabled veterans, as servants of the National will, if disabled in the performance of such duties, should be rightfully compensated from the national treasure. This is not charity, but a rightful responsibility of the nation who called on them to sacrifice.

FreedomGuy's picture

I officially want to tell all farmers who get subsidies to go screw themselves. I realize that is like insulting the Pope as farmers are a revered and protected class. However, I printed out an article years ago about a Missouri farmer making record profits on the higher commodity prices and still getting a $500k check from the government. He said he felt guilty but he didn't send it back. I hope he at least spent it on some new John Deer equipment.

I just finished my taxes this afternoon and I could not believe my effective tax rates as a single guy without preferred tax deductions like a home. When I consider the fact we run 50% deficits and my real tax rate should therefore be double to balance the books I nearly vomit and pass out simultaneously. I officially have no tolerance now for lazy scumbag public union employees demanding double the private sector income and benefits, parasitic farmers or any other subsidy taker, worthless government programs that are black holes for money and results...government largess in any form.

The truth is the Democrat-socialist-statist-collectivists have nearly completed their victory. When even the TP candidates are on the dole its all a charade. God help us in the productive class. 

Raymond K Hessel's picture

The TEA Party movement is made up of Independents. 

That's the biggest disconnect most people have with what is happening politically in the US since Bush's agenda was rejected with a Democrat win in the White House. 

The tragedy is that nobody understands this movement is not a republican thing.

tom a taxpayer's picture

"So they’ve borrowed and spent 3.5 Trillion to produce 255 Billion in GDP growth (7% efficiency!),  never even bothered to pass a budget  for FY2011, and still haven’t managed to get a single bankster put in jail.  Now these whores  are lecturing us about “moral obligations.”   They also swear they’re gonna straighten up and fly right this time."

Now that is a blistering indictment! Thank you Mark McHugh.

Congress cuts to spending are always in the future. Grandiose plans to bring down the deficit in the future. Deficits plans that Congress is free to change and ignore when the future arrives. The fact that Congress now struggles to pass even a token cut means there is no end to the reckless spending for the foreseeable future. Perhaps Congress should operate more like the States that are forced to do a better job of balancing the budget now not just in the future.

cossack55's picture

Sadly, that is all meaningless until the FED is erradicated.  As I read above, they will just pick up the slack and you won't even know nor will your CONgress scum.

FreedomGuy's picture

I actually don't blame the Fed. I don't like the Fed but it is just trying to make the impossible numbers our Congress gins up work. Fundamentally, Congress' budget, entitlement promises, willingness to tax and other promises don't work. The Fed has to balance it with funny money and shady accounting. If we had a balanced budget Congress, the Fed would not really have to do all this crap. I start with Congress before the Fed. Fed is next, though.

Thomas's picture

I view them as an unholy alliance.

apberusdisvet's picture

And the bulls really expect that this sham of a market will continue?  Buy physical PMs and sit on the sidelines and figure how you are going to survive when the banks and food stores are closed, the unwashed are roaming the streets looking for victims, and the price of gas is meaningless since all of your tires have been stolen.

Mr Anderson's picture

Anyone on ZH who reads this article and continues to live in a large city deserves to have their tires stolen.

This is an informed community that understands much of what is happening in Washington and New York. Many of you have bought farmland in the country. Do you have 2 years worth of fuel for your equipment? Are you a member of the local community? Does your community have a local disaster management plan for Flood, Earthquake & economic collapse?

Are the local farmers, ranchers, and orchardists organized enough to ensure the nearest city council that they can feed the population through the upcoming winter?

This group has some the the most intelligent financial minds, almost all of you have common sense and its why you came here looking for the truth. The truth is staring you in the face.

Each of you has prepared yourself and your family. It is time to become a leader in your local community. ZH is a community and this community needs to stand up and show you the rest how to handle the upcoming financial/govt collapse.

cossack55's picture

The civilizing of the barbarians to toil for the common good or civilization may be a worthwhile goal for some, if not a little overly utopian. There are others who take the more individualistic path of "I will take care of me and mine and you do the same."  There are historical precedents for both. We now find ourselves in a Global Community and all I see are new and improved ways to slaughter each other and immediate 24/7 communications so I can tell everyone what I am chewing for lunch. I think I shall stick to the small cell, resilient shared tribalism that has the merit of Liberty. All else is new-age shit.  No offense meant, just a different vision. This is afterall, Fight Club.

Mr Anderson's picture

What I was describing is the resilient shared tribalism. I produce cattle, food, and lumber. My neighbors produce apples, cherries, and wine. We produce far far more than our families could ever eat. It is in our best interests to make sure the people in town are fed when SHTF. It is far cheaper to feed them than to shoot them and protect my borders 24/7. Also, theres a dentist, a couple doctors, a vet that I would sorely miss.

  So I guess my goal is to have a bigger tribe. Not only for protection but because many of them specialize in things that I do not.

cossack55's picture

Sorry, I took it as a continuation of the status quo. It appears we are on the same sheet, just maybe different scales.

I would suggest most ZHers are on this sheet also, just different levels.  I think the problem is in numbers, mainly, we are WAY outnumbered.  I notice even FEMA is doing ads encouraging people to pul their collective heads out.  So far I see no results. I have been sounding the alarm for years and other than my own contacts, to little or no avail.  I am tired of warning others. If they haven't grasped the enormity of the situation by now, I don't think they ever will.  Que Sara, Sara? 


Mr Anderson's picture

I believe as well most of the ZHers on the same sheet as well. Community plans are essential I've found. First look to your County Disaster Mgmt plan. Read it to see if its real or just shelf stock. Meet with your community council, or city council to work on updating or in our case creating a management plan. Focus on the earthquake preparation. You will have a loss of communication, food supply, and possibly power supply disruptions.

If your community 600-3000 ppl are aware and prepared for this. You will be able to keep order and feed the population. This will give you a 2 week advantage vs. the city dwellers. Enough time to get ready for mass exodus of the cities.

Just look at the Japanese response to the earthquake. How long it took to get any fuel/food/power to those poor souls. That nation is the best and most prepared nation on earth to deal with Earthquake/Tsunami.  

The federal Govt will not be available to help/feed you.

RafterManFMJ's picture

Damn, wish you lived near me. But then, we'd still be on our own. Like your attitude

FreedomGuy's picture

Would those be the farmers that get government subsidies or the ones who grow unsubsidized crops?

The reality is not everyone can move to the country and grow organic squash. We will all be in this together and we will have to figure out how to buy and move essentials together. My favorite is to pay in PM's or barter for currency and other the other side we would have to organize neighborhood security details whether it's the burbs, your apartment building or rural areas. Decent people will band together. Bad guys will get shot without trial. Won't have the money to keep them in prison for life with weightrooms, a/c and HDTV.

The real fight to me will be the forces of liberty versus autocracy. In a meltdown the autocrats often do very well.

Mr Anderson's picture


I know of a couple farmers that get subsidies. These are large acreage wheat and corn farmers. With the prices of corn and wheat going up, they will try again to get out of the govt. program but once your on the role the govt. doesn't let you off easy (it's a contract). Remember the govt. can give these subsidies because they feel they are doing the right thing by setting aside land for wildlife & soil conservation.

When things boil over it all comes down to food and fuel. If you live in a big city it will likely break down into ethnic tribes. Look around your city see if you can find someone from Russia who went through the breaking up the USSR or even better someone who went through that and the financial crisis of 1998-9. 

Make friends with someone who has some sort of agricultural ties. If you don't know anyone ask around ZH. First hint of a financial collapse get out.

The forces of liberty and autocracy will come to heads in the cities and you don't wanna be there to witness it.

Absinthe Minded's picture

You think we don't try? I tell co-workers how PM's are the only way to preserve their wealth. They look at me and say yeah, I was thinking about buying some gold, but it's too expensive now. I try to tell them to buy silver, nah, it's in a bubble right now. They think the government will somehow make sure everything is all right. They couldn't be irresponsible to the point that our country would crash or anything like that. How anyone can look at the news in the world right now and not realize how f@&ked we are has got to have a screw loose. When we have 1.7T deficits and they are fighting over 30B in cuts, it boggles the mind. It's snowing again here in NH. Shit.

FreedomGuy's picture

Show them a chart of prices in the Weimar Republic and ask them if PM's were in a bubble. If they don't get that. Feel sorry for them and write them off.

Freewheelin Franklin's picture

Tires? WTF good are tires. They be stillin battries. Mmmmm hmm.

captain_menace's picture

Please! Anything but the "unwashed".  I'm not sure I could handle streets full of unwashed roamers.

And the stores will be closed on top of that.  How will these unwashed buy soap to wash themselves?  Oh, the horror!!!

patb's picture

Santelli is a lying Sack of Cow Feces.  All he's saying is noise.

The value of a nation is more then a pile of cash. 

The trick in anything is the investment in the right things.

If the feds fix health care, properly.  We will have huge surpluses.

But that means crucifying the Insurance company parasites.

mark mchugh's picture

I have to disagree with you about Rick.  I think he's the only guy on TV concerned about America's future.  You don't have to agree with everything he says, but I think his heart's in the right place, and there's not many others I would say that about.

(FYI - I didn't junk you)

tickhound's picture

The trick in anything is the investment in the right things.

If the feds fix health care, properly.  We will have huge surpluses.

Thanks for that... I needed a good laugh.

As for your own "education"... I'm unsure where to begin, but first you need to... Ah fuck it, its hopeless.


Twindrives's picture

I did junk you.  The 3 sacks of human excrement are Obama, Bernanke, and Geithner. 

Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

I junked you too.  Gubbament fixing healthcare????



There won't be a fix to health care with this nation full of fat assed lazy american parasites around.  Count on it.

Urban Redneck's picture

Gubbament is fixing healthcare-

rising food prices

shrinking portions

shocking numbers of people on a fixed dole from the government, which buys less and less food

Americans are going a diet - even without the 2000 pages of pork

who knows- perhaps in a few years enough American women will have dropped enough excess pounds to interest me again, in the mean time I'll stick to Brazilian women 

ShouldveLeftHer's picture

Excellent. I was in line getting gas the other day. I saw this nasty fat fat bitch, pumping gas into her huge SUV, yelling at her equally diabetic children while she emptied a weeks worth of McDonalds wrappers from the back of her SUV. Pardon me for not getting out and singing the anthem. Ive been perpetually depressed for months and dont see an end to any of it. Even if I prepare, nothings going to happen in my lifetime, or so it seems....

FreedomGuy's picture

I hate to say it, but I am with you on the depression. That is a hard thing to say when you are a hard wired optimist as I have been. Between world disasters and the fact that we are not going to "fix" the ship of state, here or Europe makes it depressing. I watch my income drop, taxes go up and opportunity evaporate. The game is rigged.

BTW, Asian women, especially born in Asia are great, too. They stay slim, are soft on the outside and strong as steel on the inside. They have expectations, though and will give you hell if you're a slacker, lol.  I have pretty much given up on American women...and maybe America, too. Just gonna try to survive and hope for the best.

SilverFiend's picture

When is the last time the Fed's fixed anything?

Pepe's picture

The Insurance companies's big business was propelled forward during Reagan's mandate period. Since then the vector has continued forward towards the eventual proletarization of health workers. The greed of physicians and Nurse practitioners and their divisions are but one of the means by which that project will eventually become to fruition. The casualties have so far been among others the quality of care, and the very ethical foundations of the profession as a whole. Medicine has already sold its soul to the devil and the devil has now the upper hand. This problem can not be solved in the same state of consciousness that produced it in the first place.


avonaltendorf's picture

patb, you're a chump.

Federal state local + private debt = 4x GDP, nearly 100% of all US net private equity. Every house, car, factory, power plant, oil well, and windmill. That's why the Fed is now lender of last resort and largest holder of US Treasury debt. No one else wants it.

Your remark about insurance companies is particularly foolish. Private insurers are solvent and pay claims. Entitlements like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and public employee pensions are underwater.

Destroying the private sector will not save you. That's like selling farmland to buy luxuries and lunch for your friends today, but you all starve day after tomorrow.

cossack55's picture

That is why it is important to put the lunch tab on a JPM/Chase Credit card.

ShouldveLeftHer's picture

Then maxxxxx it the fuck out on fucking silver and gold nugggggggetttttttttssssssssssssss!

RockyRacoon's picture

Santelli is a lying Sack of Cow Feces.  All he's saying is noise.

So, if he were saying nothing, you'd say the same thing.

You gotta pick a side.  Anyone bucking the system is to be congratulated.

Freewheelin Franklin's picture

The value of a nation is more then a pile of cash.


I'll agree with that. The paper value of stocks and real estate are also "worthless". A country/society is only as wealthy as the goods and services it produces.


The rest of what you said is complete and utter bullshit.

Freewheelin Franklin's picture

Also, regarding health insurance? Health insurance has a "history of government interference and protection".


dbTX's picture

You are about as full of crap as a Christmas turkey. When has the fed ever fixed anything properly?

Raymond K Hessel's picture

I junked you.

The problem with healthcare is the bubble caused by government intervention.  Government can't fix healthcare because it was government intervention that fucked it up in the first place. 

Do you think you're in the wrong forum?  Could that be it? 

web bot's picture

I haven't seen Santelli posting this evening. If he was on, he would just stepped over you, as one steps over cow shit in a field.

He's one of the few voices of reason in the msm - and you're a knob.

Chuck Walla's picture

Rick is the canary in the coal mine. He feels his oxygen depleting and is singing his heart out  over the loud machines to let the miners know.

FreedomGuy's picture

So, you are saying if you "fix health care" (sp) Social Security balances, farmers keep getting subsidies, government employees can go up to three times private wages...everything will be fine?