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On The Imminent US Debt To GDP Parity

Tyler Durden's picture


One of the most recurring and troubling topics on Zero Hedge is the imminent US Debt to GDP parity: even as the US economy is starting to roll over from a temporary sugar high into a double dip, the hangover effect of $2.1 trillion in debt incurred since March 2009 will linger for a long, long time. Total US debt is currently just under $13.1 trillion, and is rising at a rate of about $150-200 billion per month, meaning that US GDP of about $14.4 trillion will soon hit parity with the Federal debt, likely in under one year. Luckily, this critical topic is starting to get far more greater prominence: Bloomberg's chart of the day focuses precisely on this issue. Garfield Reynolds and Wes Goodman note: "President Barack Obama is poised to
increase the U.S. debt to a level that exceeds the value of the
nation’s annual economic output,
a step toward what Bill Gross
called a “debt super cycle." We hope the president will finally address this untenable collision course during one of his daily TV appearances in the upcoming weeks, instead of ruminating on last week's terrific(ally bad) NFP report.

From Bloomberg:

The CHART OF THE DAY tracks U.S. gross domestic product and the government’s total debt, which rose past $13 trillion for the first time this month. The amount owed will surpass GDP in 2012, based on forecasts by the International Monetary Fund. The lower panel shows U.S. annual GDP growth as tracked by the IMF, which projects the world’s largest economy to expand at a slower pace than the 3.2 percent average during the past five decades.

“Over the long term, interest rates on government debt will likely have to rise to attract investors,” said Hiroki Shimazu, a market economist in Tokyo at Nikko Cordial Securities Inc., a unit of Japan’s third-largest publicly traded bank. “That will be a big burden on the government and the people.”

Gross, who runs the world’s largest mutual fund at Pacific Investment Management Co. in Newport Beach, California, said in his June outlook report that “the debt super cycle trend” suggests U.S. economic growth won’t be enough to support the borrowings “if real interest rates were ever to go up instead of down.”

Dan Fuss, who manages the Loomis Sayles Bond Fund, which beat 94 percent of competitors the past year, said last week that he sold all of his Treasury bonds because of prospects interest rates will rise as the U.S. borrows unprecedented amounts. Obama is borrowing record amounts to fund spending programs to help the economy recover from its longest recession since the 1930s.

“The incremental borrower of funds in the U.S. capital markets is rapidly becoming the U.S. Treasury,” Boston-based Fuss said. “Do you really want to buy the debt of the biggest issuer?”

The answer to the latter is of course no, yet once a majority of the investing public realizes that this is the correct response, the Ponzi is over, and the days of the Wall Street-DC kleptocracy are numbered. However, just like a thought experiment which puts every rat in the world in the same corner with the knowledge that the only outcome is extinction leads to some amusing visuals, look for the approaching final Ponzi battle to be fierce. After all, at stake is nearly one quadrillion in imaginary shadow debt, also known to those on Wall Street as "wealth."



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Sun, 06/06/2010 - 17:09 | 398264 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

It has always been my contention that government spending has been the single biggest problem here.

Yes, the FED, the Wall St. frauds, the bankers with FANNIE & FREDDIE are all to blame as well.

But, the Big Enchilada has been the overspending by those whom WE sent to Washington.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 17:12 | 398268 docj
docj's picture

We get the government we deserve (and vote for) - and now we're getting it good and hard.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:21 | 398373 Currently Smoki...
Currently Smoking Cannabis's picture

Nonsense.  We get to vote for the gangster in the red bandana or the gangster in the blue bandana.  That doesn't mean the people deserved to be ruled by gangsters.  But not voting is frowned upon.  So I suppose it's endorse a gangster or you have no right to bitch about the system, right?


What would a better, more deserving people do?  Violent revolt?  Or would they run for a local office, then work their way to the top, then change the system from within?  Haha...dream on.  Or just stay asleep.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:36 | 398389 akak
akak's picture

While the Republicans and Democrats alternately switch roles every few years as "Good Cop/Bad Cop", we all know that in the end, in such a ploy BOTH are always "bad cops".  Endorsing the lesser of two evils is still condoning evil!  No matter which wing of the single Demopublican Pro-Establishment Party is in power, our freedoms and wealth continue to be ratcheted downward, and I am sick of it.

Most Americans refuse to accept or acknowledge the fact that our political system is one of the most closed and least free in the world today.  Any meaningful challengers to the status-quo, even within the two corrupt establishment parties (such as Republican Ron Paul in 2007/2008), are effectively shut out from making any significant challenges to the system.  And third parties?  We may as well be asking for a free vote in Stalinist Russia.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:46 | 398489 docj
docj's picture

Absolutely, akak.  They both suck.  I mean, I'm a registered Republican (I guess that makes me part of the problem, right?) and nominally support the "red bandanna" morons because I think they suck nominally 5% less than the other guys - but we're still talking about a metric crapton of suck, savvy?

Such as been the case since (at least) the late-20's.  We are a society based entirely on the antithesis of the notion that there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.  So we keep voting for the criminals who will "do something" - which usually means screwing someone else so you can get something for nothing.

So, in that climate you get the sort of government we have now.  It's precisely what we deserve, frankly.  Why anyone expects we should get anything different is a total mystery to me an just reeks of the sort of pre-adolescent "can't we all just get along" mentality that is all so common in well, my pre-adolescents for example.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 21:19 | 398657 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

10-4 guys.  A sorry state that we as a people have gotten ourselves into.


A Betrayed Republican

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 23:53 | 398976 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Copy that.
An Ex-Democrat

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 06:21 | 399222 SecretGoldfish
SecretGoldfish's picture

yep.  formerly ex-republican, currently ex-democrat . . . which makes me DOUBLY to blame

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 06:38 | 399231 dark pools of soros
dark pools of soros's picture

Rodney King nailed his 15 mins of infamy - forever putting a caption on the world's toils

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 20:49 | 398590 DosZap
DosZap's picture


Agreed, but I still think if the Sheeple would awaken( enough seem to be), and stop feeiling sorry for themselves...we ( 38 states) should have called a Con Con, a year ago........

We could have wiped this friggin slate clean, I mean the entire enchhilada............why NO group of citizens, have not neutered their Governors over this, and their legislatures is BEYOND me.

Congress would have to call it(no choice) ,and WE would get to select our own Delegates................NOT THEM.

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 00:42 | 399030 Ignore Amos
Ignore Amos's picture

The Sheeple are stumpbroke.  They accept this is the natural state of affairs because they have been trained so.

"Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public" - H.L. Mencken

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:33 | 398467 docj
docj's picture

We can change that any time we want.  But we're totally addicted to free lunches - even if they're poop sandwiches.

Or are you suggesting this is not precisely the government this electorate wants?

Edit: I owe you an answer for this, as it's a legit question...

What would a better, more deserving people do?

Stop demanding free stuff from Uncle Sugar would be a decent start.  Most of the rest would follow from that, methinks.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:56 | 398498 Currently Smoki...
Currently Smoking Cannabis's picture

I agree that would be a decent start.

I would prefer to see people demand accountability of those 'above' them.  It seems to me we've come to accept that certain rules and laws should not apply to certain groups and organizations.  Instead we're resigned to, "That's just the way it is."  So we tolerate lying and stealing from our rulers while demanding ethics and morality from our peers.

At the same time, we tolerate and publicly respect our abusers in the name of Patriotism and good citizenship, and they take that and run with it.  Before we turn on each other, I'd like to see us all realize who's really screwing who here.

If it sounds like I'm speaking of class warfare, it's because i think there was a war started long ago.  Those within the losing classes are starting to realize it, but they're being led to believe that the teams are other than they are.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 20:05 | 398508 docj
docj's picture

Good points.  Stop demanding "free stuff", hold people to account, end "That's just the way it is".  All good.

As to "who's really screwing who", I'm starting to come to terms with the notion that "The Banks Never Lose".  I find that anything that doesn't make sense at first blush starts to make nearly perfect sense when viewed through that prism.  Lots follow from that.  But that's just me, YMMV.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 20:21 | 398531 Currently Smoki...
Currently Smoking Cannabis's picture

Agreed.  We're just hitting two ends of the same corrupt, jacked system.

If we win, I'll see ya in the middle.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 20:52 | 398596 DosZap
DosZap's picture


WHY do you think the Founders were AGAINST Centralized Banking?.....

We're living it.

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 03:41 | 399134 lost in the usa
lost in the usa's picture

Account or no accountability as sone as you can vote yourself money for whatever purpous you no matter how moral or for how many children you end up with class welfare, If I can take money out of your pocket for what I think is good then you can do the same to me.

The only one's that win are the middle men Read politicians who play one group aginst another and skim off the top the more groups the more skimming. Wola American politics in a nutshell. And almost all politics in general.

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 06:45 | 399238 dark pools of soros
dark pools of soros's picture

just as bookies only care to split the bet & live off the juice.   Thats the politics we have

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:38 | 398415 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture



I saw her today at the reception 
A glass of wine in her hand 
I knew she was gonna meet her connection 
At her feet was footloose man 

You can't always get what you want 
You can't always get what you want 
You can't always get what you want 
But if you try sometimes you might find 
You get what you need 

I went down to the demonstration 
To get my fair share of abuse 
Singing, "We're gonna vent our frustration 
If we don't we're gonna blow a 50-amp fuse" 

You can't always get what you want 
You can't always get what you want 
You can't always get what you want 
But if you try sometimes well you just might find 
You get what you need 

I went down to the Chelsea drugstore 
To get your prescription filled 
I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy 
And man, did he look pretty ill 
We decided that we would have a soda 
My favorite flavor, cherry red 
I sung my song to Mr. Jimmy 
Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was "dead" 
I said to him 

You can't always get what you want 
You can't always get what you want 
You can't always get what you want 
But if you try sometimes you just might find 
You get what you need 

You get what you need--yeah, oh baby 

I saw her today at the reception 
In her glass was a bleeding man 
She was practiced at the art of deception 
Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands 

You can't always get what you want 
You can't always get what you want 
You can't always get what you want 
But if you try sometimes you just might find 
You just might find 
You get what you need 

You can't always get what you want 
You can't always get what you want 
You can't always get what you want 
But if you try sometimes you just might find 
You just might find 
You get what you need 

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:58 | 398437 Blue Fairy
Blue Fairy's picture

You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I owe my soul to the company store

Tennessee Ernie Ford 

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:27 | 398472 docj
docj's picture

Uh, sure.  Whatever.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:52 | 398493 nmewn
nmewn's picture

"The government I live under has been my enemy all my active life. When it has not been engaged in silencing me it has been engaged in robbing me. So far as I can recall I have never had any contact with it that was not an outrage on my dignity and an attack on my security."
HL Mencken


Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:56 | 398499 docj
docj's picture

So far as I can recall I have never had any contact with it that was not an outrage on my dignity and an attack on my security.

Mencken's quote seems pretty spot-on to me.  Every time I have to deal with government at any level (local, state, fed), which is unfortunately almost weekly in my case, I feel like I need to take a shower afterward.

An "outrage on my dignity" is a much nicer way of putting that.  Thanks, and cheers.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 20:18 | 398527 nmewn
nmewn's picture

Unfortunately, our best and brightest do not reside there, with some notable exceptions of course. It was not always this way, perhaps someday it will become the servant instead of the master again.

Hope springs eternal ;-)



Sun, 06/06/2010 - 20:22 | 398532 Rusty_Shackleford
Rusty_Shackleford's picture


Although sometimes I try to think of of government as a huge, blind, rabid, foaming at the mouth pit-bull wandering our neighborhoods.  The best option is to try and stay as far away from it as you possibly can.  But, you never really know when it's going to jump out from behind a tree and bite you on the ass.  And when it does, no one is going to help you and there ain't a damn thing you can do about it.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 21:04 | 398617 Kali
Kali's picture

Yup, spot on Rusty

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 06:57 | 399244 dark pools of soros
dark pools of soros's picture

docj - all this talk here and you are still not seeing it.  You forgot to mention that dealing with big biz is the same ridicule of humanity as dealing with the government.  


just let it sink in that even with all the taxpayer and soldier's expense to allow the big 4 Oil back into Iraq for unlimited gains, one of them felt no need to regard higher safety precautions when encountering new unknown risks.  But when someone is used to getting whatever they want, why bother with common courtesy?

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 09:05 | 399381 docj
docj's picture

Well, I "forgot" to mention that dealing with Big.Biz is every bit as degrading because it wasn't really the subject at hand.  But sure, yeah, you're right.  Anyone who's ever had to deal with, for example, a health insurance company knows that all too well.

The difference is that you often (or at least sometimes) have the option to not deal with a big biz.  I've not yet been able to afford that luxury with Big.Gov - but maybe I'm just not enough skilled.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 20:17 | 398525 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Vote for?  I think you meant that Diebold votes for.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 23:30 | 398913 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

Die Bold.... now there is a telling name if there ever was one.

I say Die Boldly.


Sun, 06/06/2010 - 23:57 | 398984 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Thus why I have not voted in the last two Presidential elections.  I spit on this machine!

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 17:30 | 398298 SofaPapa
SofaPapa's picture

I've never thought of Fannie and Freddie as separate from the government.  Any "private" quality to them has always been a myth.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:32 | 398405 MarketTruth
MarketTruth's picture

Agreed, though the US Gov refuses to put the liability of Fred/Fan on the debt books. So simply more (normally expected) fraud by the US Gov.

Got gold?

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 21:24 | 398664 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Yes, and looking to buy more.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:18 | 398370 EscapeKey
EscapeKey's picture

Absolutely - there's no way any Labour supporter here in the UK would ever conceed the conmen they voted in brought the country to its knees financially. It's much easier to point the finger of blame at the rich bankers who represent a much smaller problem.

It's systemic failure to take responsibility.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 22:26 | 398789 Neo-zero
Neo-zero's picture

I guess people are the same all over.  They've fallen into the my side/my guy's great yours sucks.  

That being said I was just at a BBQ here in NY and alot of people regreting pulling the lever for the Obama/Goldman Sacks ticket.  Way more then I would have expected to say so out loud.

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 07:05 | 399248 dark pools of soros
dark pools of soros's picture

you knew it was pointless when both obama and mccain ran down to D.C. to support the TARP...  they should replay all those video clips of the hurried overnight meetings that both of them faked reading the damn thing 

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 07:37 | 399265 New_Meat
New_Meat's picture

Well, the choice was between a Liberal and a Socialist (or more than). - Ned

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:44 | 398488 Noah Vail
Noah Vail's picture

We surpassed the 1:1 ratio a long time ago.

GDP itself is a bad joke as it includes government spending of borrowed money. Real GDP is probably closer to $10T than $14T. Same goes for goverment debt where official debt is far less than real debt.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 20:25 | 398536 Ragnar D
Ragnar D's picture

Just like adding government "workers" to the job count instead of subtracting them.

I'm about ready to start my own financial news service.


Private economic activity MINUS gov't spending = productive economy size

Private employment MINUS gov't overhead = productive jobs count

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 22:11 | 398759 masterinchancery
masterinchancery's picture

Absolutely right--the G only got into GDP because most economists work for the government.  Indeed, many govt employees are actively subtracting from GDP--think EPA and FTC and SEC, amongst others.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 22:52 | 398835 Ragnar D
Ragnar D's picture

Departments of:

Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Energy, Education...

Then the FCC, FDA, NEA, "Labor Relations Authority", etc.


The best of these are money pits, the worst are money pits that actively destroy additional productivity.

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 07:15 | 399249 dark pools of soros
dark pools of soros's picture

all this talk of private biz being so holy is jackass.  Don't you fucking realize that the oligarchy you worship are the ones behind the government that you despise????!!!!!  yet you kiss its feet regardless


big business CREATES big government.. how else can it outfund and squash at will?  Just as they know to divide and pit us against ourselves, slicing up big business would in turn divide the government...   at that point the states can have more say vs the federal gov and america would be on its way back to what made it strong

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 07:40 | 399269 New_Meat
New_Meat's picture

but ~70% US is small business that is getting crushed - Ned

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 10:19 | 399503 dark pools of soros
dark pools of soros's picture

right and i doubt any have any money left over for lobbyists, etc


we need the states to take power back.. i dont see any other way to make a dent

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 03:56 | 399146 lost in the usa
lost in the usa's picture

8.6 trill on the books and 4.5 from ss fund the problem is they can not steal 200 bil a year or so from ss fund it went neg minus intrest payment this year. If rates

We have added about 3.6 trill to the debt in two years from about 5 trill and ss went neg so as sone as intrest rates hit 5 in a half to maybe 7 percent without big cuts they will be paying an extra bill or two a day in intrest and lost stolen funds from ss. I think the debt bloweout hits 3 to 6 months after intrest rates hit that level. Faster if they can keep things going for a while longer, extend and pretend keep rates at 3.2 percent and shorten up the maturaty for another 2 years and make the debt 11 trill and see the SHTF at 5 or 4 percent avg rate.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 20:56 | 398605 Heavy
Heavy's picture

I'd say: that the moneyis funny is a bigger problem than the spending of funny money.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 17:17 | 398275 RagnarDanneskjold
RagnarDanneskjold's picture

Most of these analyses assume GDP is going up. If there's a double dip, the party gets started next year. 

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 17:26 | 398290 rubearish10
rubearish10's picture

+1 RD, especially if inventory builds have topped out, it'll happen faster! Good, the sooner the better since we must end this thing before we go to war!

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 17:39 | 398311 A Man without Q...
A Man without Qualities's picture

It also assumes the current GDP is accurate and not grossly overstated as the consequence of years of minor tweaking to imply the economy was growing faster than it really was and therefore that the increase in borrowing was less of an issue.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:15 | 398364 Thisson
Thisson's picture

Hah!  You guys make a critical mistake: you fail to realize that government spending COUNTS AS GDP!!!

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:29 | 398397 UGrev
UGrev's picture

don't you mean that they included the cash advances courtesy of other countries as part of the GDP?

SHIT! Let me cash advance ALL my credit cards  (well, 1 credit card) and I can be rich too... right up until I have to pay it all back. But damn, I'll have a nice TV, Car, and some other fancy electronic gizmo that have lots of flashing lights and shit...

Then I can stay "STICK IT" when the collectors come knocking.. and go back to my wealth.  

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:19 | 398375 EscapeKey
EscapeKey's picture

Not forgetting if hedonics weren't included, the 100% figure would have been surpassed years ago.


Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:56 | 398497 doggings
doggings's picture

are you saying then that in reality the US passed the 100% point years ago?

doesnt surprise me at all, but must cast a little doubt on validity of the super debt cycle? theory though?

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 17:22 | 398283 grunk
grunk's picture

Throw Helen Thomas a life line. Have her ask the question.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:23 | 398381 Currently Smoki...
Currently Smoking Cannabis's picture

"Maybe all those unemployed should go back to where they came from.  Go back to England, Ireland, Germany, Mexico, Vietnam, China...."


Nah...I doubt she'd say that.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 20:28 | 398546 Ragnar D
Ragnar D's picture

I think she'd tell us to pay it off with Joo Gold (and the 401ks of anyone who's ever saved).

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 17:23 | 398285 VK
VK's picture

And this doesn't even count the Government backed Fannie and Freddie. With them on board the Debt is closer to 20 trillion dollars. And Debt to GDP would be 130% and if you count State debt and municipal debt, the public debt would probably be 170% of GDP and if you count consumer debt, corporate debt, financial debt and social security, medicare, medicaid and lord knows what else the Debt to GDP would probably be 840% (Read that on Forbes some time ago). Too much debt, too little cash flow in the real economy. Ponzi all the way till it crashes and burns.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:21 | 398377 EscapeKey
EscapeKey's picture

Oh, don't worry about the debt figures - they'll print. And print, and print, and print. It's the only solution possible at this stage.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 17:24 | 398286 rubearish10
rubearish10's picture

Debt spiral into oblivion = Higher interest rates, higher PM prices and lower stock market. The question is, do we deflate much more before we get there. The answer is, most likely.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 17:24 | 398287 Rainman
Rainman's picture

The "plan " for the WH is to boot this deficit issue down the road until the December report from the bipartisan commission on deficit reduction. That's when he opens up the trick bag to display what's inside.

For 5 months they expect to deflect mounting rage while a group of political shills study the matter.

Good luck with that.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:02 | 398351 Bob Sponge
Bob Sponge's picture

I don't see why the gov't can't cut its budget by 1% per year across the board for the next 3-5 years. We don't need a commission in order to take action.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:10 | 398359 Postal
Postal's picture

It's really quite simple: Government waste employs voters.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:17 | 398367 Thisson
Thisson's picture

Because 1% is not enough.  If you cut the government budget 100% (yes, you read that right) without touching the 3rd rails of politics (medicare, medicaid, social security) you still run afoul.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 17:33 | 398299 akak
akak's picture

And don't forget that GDP as calculated explicitly includes governmental spending and hence, federal borrowing and debt.  If one subtracts such spending from what would and should be the real (private economy) GDP, and compared it to total debt, the numbers would only be much worse.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:15 | 398365 VK
VK's picture

• Private wages. A record-low 41.9% of the nation's personal income came from private wages and salaries in the first quarter, down from 44.6% when the recession began in December 2007.

So around 60% of incomes are somehow dependent on Government and leaching the private sector, 18% of incomes come from money transfers.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:28 | 398393 EscapeKey
EscapeKey's picture

If anyone can write a paper on how a sustainable economy can be run in this way, there's a nobel prize in economics waiting for you.

I guess Paul Krugman will give it a try. No doubt it'll involve printing a lot of money.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:37 | 398482 ColonelCooper
ColonelCooper's picture

From the same article:

"The shift in income shows that the Fedral Government's stimulus efforts have been effective. says Paul Van De Water, an economist at the liber Center on Budget ad Policy."

Somebody out to take this queefsniffer outside, stand him against a wall, and blast him with a diarrhea cannon until he screams, "Austria, my Austria."

What an utter fool, and a perfect example of the reason we are doomed.

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 07:52 | 399282 New_Meat
New_Meat's picture

and this in McNews--some editor is gonna get fired.  - Ned

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 17:33 | 398303 SofaPapa
SofaPapa's picture

By defining that money = debt, our current environment is not a byproduct of the system, it is the pure product of the system.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:25 | 398386 Currently Smoki...
Currently Smoking Cannabis's picture

...and thus the intention of the system.

The clinking is slowing...and we're pretty high...Hands in the air, folks!

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 17:39 | 398310 Sudden Debt
Sudden Debt's picture

Everybody keeps talking about the debt to GDP and about the debt rising...


but nobody talks about GDP going down and creation a new ceiling for the debt to hit. So are we after a 3 year crisis not there yet?

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 17:47 | 398313 Misthos
Misthos's picture

I have a quick question.  I don't believe that most nations have a debt structure as we do in the US.  That is, there is more often than not debt on the municipal, county, and state level.  We also do not count the GSE debt as national debt.  Do other countries have similar issues?  Or is their debt to gdp more accurate, and thus, seemingly more negative than ours?

That said, are we not already well above 100% debt to gdp?


From Jesse's Cafe Americain:

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 17:46 | 398324 economicmorphine
economicmorphine's picture

The president bought the lie from the economists that if he just applied the Keynesian defibrillator that the patient would respond and that GNP growth would gallop ahead. Most readers here knew that wouldn't happen 2 years ago, even if Bush and Obama didn't. Now it's two years later, the patient has failed to respond and the White House has painted itself into a corner. Of course, if you believe that this is good for the bankers and the bankers own the economists and this was the idea all along, then things are proceeding according to plan. What you believe, of course, is up to you.

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 08:07 | 399304 New_Meat
New_Meat's picture

"The president bought the lie from the economists..."  That's a joke, right?  Our Dear President-Columbia "trained" came to the party wanting to redistribute the wealth of the country to its "rightful owners."  Doing a creditable job of that, just don't bother him with the details. isn't too far from the situation.

- Ned

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:05 | 398333 geopol
geopol's picture

I owe this to Cheeky, Subtle inference to the NWO,,,,

Geithner Rushes to Sabotage Germany Derivatives Ban; Schäuble Prepares New Moves Against Speculators

The German government is now fully committed to escalating its ongoing counterattack against international financial speculation. These moves represent an historical watershed as Germany becomes the first major economic power to roll back the tide of financial globalization, under which crackdowns on hedge funds, derivatives, and the world gambling casino were branded as taboo for national governments. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has announced that the Merkel government is sending a draft bill to the German parliament (the Bundestag) targeting “turbulence” and “volatility” through further regulation of “certain transactions [which] amplify the crisis.” The bill reaffirms the most fundamental German measure enacted so far, the May 18 blanket ban on all naked credit default swaps issued against the treasury bonds of the eurozone nations. This ban represents the most aggressive move anywhere in the OECD against these most toxic derivatives, which have figured prominently in the AIG bankruptcy and the recent Goldman Sachs Abacus scandal. They are also the derivatives being widely used by hedge fund hyenas and zombie banks to attack such nations as Greece , Spain , and the rest of the Southern tier of the euro.

The naked CDS ban protects euroland government bonds, To that would now be added a ban on the naked shorting of those Euro zone government bonds themselves. This means that a speculator wishing to sell a Euro zone government bond short must own that bond in advance. This makes speculation more complex and expensive, and is all to the good.

Schäuble’s new measures also expand protection for certain stocks and for the euro itself. The draft bill would outlaw naked shorts of all German stocks, meaning stocks whose primary listing is at a German exchange. The original May 18 package had banned naked shorts against a list of 10 large German banks, insurance companies, and reinsurance firms. The obvious next step is to ban naked shorting of stocks altogether. From now on, speculators who wish to short German stocks must own those stocks before they sell, making it more difficult and costly for said speculators to operate. The new draft bill would also outlaw the naked shorting of the euro itself in the foreign exchange markets. The Bundestag needs to approve this bill on the fast track, and then do more.

Tiny Tim Geithner’s US Treasury is attempting, but not succeeding, to conceal its apoplectic hysteria over the German ban. Geithner announced that he was flying from China to Europe in order to confer with George Osborne, the new Bilderberger Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Bank of England boss Mervyn King in London, followed by consultations with European Central Bank chief Trichet and Bundesbank leader Axel Weber in Frankfurt, followed then by a meeting with Schäuble in Berlin. There was no doubt that the overriding purpose of Geithner’s mission was to sabotage the German moves against derivatives in particular and speculation in general.

An unnamed US Treasury official speaking off the record on condition of anonymity told Dow Jones that the German ban on naked credit default swaps was “damaging to the market and counterproductive.” The band was “one-sided,” he added, making clear that Geithner & Co. did not expect the German ban to be adopted on a large scale. Geithner was evidently deeply concerned that the German ban might be imitated by some of Germany ’s closest economic partners, including the Netherlands , Belgium , and Sweden , as well as by other nations much farther afield. Who was the anonymous official? It might have been Tiny Tim himself, or it might have been Mark Patterson of Goldman Sachs, Geithner’s chief of staff and chief lobbyist for carbon offset boondoggles.

Spain is an example of a country which would have been very well advised to join in the German measures when they were first proposed. Observers have noted with some astonishment that the self-styled “socialist” Zapatero of Madrid is unable or unwilling to embrace the measures against the casino economy which the center-right Christian Democratic/Liberal government in Berlin is actively pursuing. The explanation is obviously that the Socialist International as a whole (with figures like Papandreou of Greece and Socrates of Portugal, as well as Zapatero) is acting as an abject puppet of the financiers.

Spain is now paying the price for its inaction through an incipient banking panic emerging on the weekend after the German ban was announced. The Caja Sur, a savings bank representing about 1% of the Spanish banking system, became insolvent, quickly followed by eight banks over the next three days. This meant that the hedge funds had succeeded in spreading the Greek contagion, thus raising questions about the short-term survivability of such overextended speculative operations as Banco Santander and Banco de Bilbao. The Spanish parliament approved a draconian austerity program by a single vote, offering the lunatic spectacle of a country already mired deeply in economic depression, with an official unemployment rate of 20%, embracing its own self-cannibalization with a deflationary austerity program in the vain effort to regain the confidence of international financial markets and investors. Spain needs to understand that there are no “markets” today, but only oligopolies and cartels. They need to understand that they are dealing with ruthless speculators, and not with investors. They might as well try to regain the confidence of Bonnie and Clyde , Dillinger, and Ma Barker.

Another country that urgently needs to join the anti-derivatives front is Italy , where a large-scale debate on economic populism broke out on the weekend after the German ban. The financiers Franco Debenedetti and Paolo Savona, camouflaged amidst a group of free-market quackademics, are desperately campaigning to convince Prime Minister Berlusconi to maintain the sanctity of hedge funds and derivatives. My answer to these market fetishists appears below. Berlusconi is moving in the wrong direction on draconian austerity with the €30 billion package of cuts which he has presented to the parliament. If this is all Berlusconi has to offer, the Italian economy is in danger of entering a death spiral in which tax increases and cuts to spending and public services inevitably cause rising unemployment, falling real production, and constantly lower government revenue receipts. Berlusconi should concentrate on suppressing speculation and on launching a recovery program, not on austerity.

Reactionary commentators around the world continue to parrot the line that the great crisis is a crisis of the welfare state,” and spells the doom of any and all government measures designed to defend and secure the health, education, and welfare of their respective populations. The Greeks, we are told, are “profligate.” This legend of the profligate Greeks conveniently ignores the fact that Greece is the second poorest nation of pre-1990 Europe – only Portugal is poorer. The Greeks have 18% official unemployment, with 20% of the population living below the official poverty line. The average Greek office worker earns about $1500 per month, or barely 40% of the wage level of their German counterparts. And the average pension for Greek government worker is about $750 per month. This is hardly a king’s ransom. Greece is also an example of one of the peripheral countries where the depression first began to hit. Greece is heavily dependent on tourist revenue, which began to decline sharply in 2007 and 2008 as the world derivatives panic began to lash Germany and northern Europe , spelling fewer foreign visitors on the Acropolis and on Mykonos and the Dodecanese .

The pro-financier ideologue Robert Mundell, speaking in Warsaw , has voiced his evaluation that a restructuring of Greek government debt is now inevitable. The Greeks and many others would be well advised to act on this advice immediately. For many of these countries, it is already obvious that their current debts cannot be repaid in the physical universe as presently constituted. For them, default is simply an inevitable necessity, not a choice. Their only choice is now when they will default, and with what strategy. In this regard, their choices are essentially two. On the one hand, they can destroy their national economies, dilapidate their capital stock, and destroy the living standard of productive working families through criminally stupid austerity programs and budget cuts of the vandalistic type dictated by the monetarist crackpots at the International Monetary Fund, European Commission, World Bank, Bank for International Settlements, and similar institutions. At the end of all this unspeakable torture of austerity, they will find their political institutions destroyed, their internal governability and stability deeply compromise or totally wrecked, and their ability to pay lower than when they started. At the end of all this, they will default anyway, and drift like derelict wrecks on the world ocean. Many of them will fall under dictatorships, or even fascist regimes.

The alternative to this nightmare scenario is to use the time-tested weapon of the unilateral financial debt moratorium as a means of national survival and national sovereignty. (If Republican US President Herbert Hoover could successfully propose an international financial debt moratorium among Germany, France, and Great Britain, and the United States in June 1931 to fight that depression, this approach cannot be regarded as wild radicalism.) This freeze on all payments of interest and principal on international financial debt must be conducted in an orderly, legal fashion, fully explained to the population and presented as an integral part of a strategy for national economic recovery. Plans should be made in advance for suppressing financial speculation, while mobilizing domestic economic resources for the most ambitious projects of national public infrastructure as a means to radically reduce unemployment and poverty. Raw materials must be secured in advance through barter deals and other ad hoc arrangements with the relevant countries, and these transactions must necessarily occur outside of the straitjacket of IMF and World Trade Organization rules.

Countries using the weapon of debt moratorium should normally be able to reduce their foreign debt exposure by about one half. If they play their cards correctly, they can do even better for their people.

Every country needs to identify at least one area in which it can produce the most advanced high technology capital goods for export, and strive to become the world leader in that department. This production must be capital-intensive, energy intensive, and high value added, and it must target the world export market. The goal is to produce something which the world will find simply indispensable, independent of whatever protectionist measures may or may not be enacted elsewhere. This effort can be used as a science driver along with other science drivers to restart scientific discovery and technological research and development throughout the entire national economy. This is the kind of strategy which the leaders of the southern tier nations of the euro should currently be elaborating.

And they need to act fast. By September, the tide of financial panic which is now engulfing Greece and Iberia will be in the suburbs of Paris and London .


Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:06 | 398354 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

They, and we, should do both:

1)  Get the derivatives into the open and under control.

2)  Cut government spending.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:17 | 398369 Bob Sponge
Bob Sponge's picture

Merkel supposedly attended the Bilderberg meeting this weekend. Maybe she will come out singing a different tune.

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 01:49 | 399088 GoatETF
GoatETF's picture

The differernt tune is because of her quality time with the young and hunky masseur. The whole thing is a game for and with the masses!

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:05 | 398445 Thisson
Thisson's picture

I love how everything is the fault of the "evil speculators" and not the retarded over-spending politicians... /sarcasm

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:29 | 398476 dcb
dcb's picture

this needs a link to "confirm" the source.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:49 | 398492 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

Google is your friend.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:10 | 398360 Trimmed Hedge
Trimmed Hedge's picture

It's all Bush's fault.


Obama inherited this, goddamit!!

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:30 | 398372 akak
akak's picture

Yes, Obama and his Wall Street insider cabal, er, administration, are utterly and completely without blame in this ongoing financial catastrophe and orgy of irresponsibility and systemic oligarchic theft --- every iota of fault lies with Bush and the Republicans.  The Democrats are all white knights who only have the nation's best interests at heart, have foregone all possible self-serving political calculations to further the nation's long-term best interests, and are working selflessly to bring open and meaningful financial and political reform to the system.

All Republicans = Evil

All Democrats = Virtue

How blind of me to have never noticed this before!



(PS: Nothing in the above is to be construed as support or apology for any members of the Bush administration, or for the Republican Party more generally.)

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:32 | 398407 EscapeKey
EscapeKey's picture

I'm no fan of Obama, and his ridiculous Keynesian (well, actually since they didn't run a surplus during the good times, it can't even claim to be that) deficit spending, but you have to conceed people such as Douchinger constantly remind everyone how deficits have exploded during Obama, when in reality most of the growth in deficit spending was due to adding the wars to the overall budget.


Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:02 | 398430 akak
akak's picture

Oh, I agree, although I can't help but notice that Obama has done absolutely nothing toward even scaling back those unnecessary and criminal wars and foreign occupations, much less ending them altogether.  But as we know, "War is the health of the state", and Obama is about nothing if not expanding the power of the state.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:20 | 398376 geopol
geopol's picture

ZH, Can we offer more than this? The post modern coup,,,


Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:22 | 398378 Bob Sponge
Bob Sponge's picture

Is that you, Barrack?

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 20:59 | 398608 eccitante
eccitante's picture

I hope you are being sarcastic with that statement...

Inheritance is no excuse to make a bad situation worse....and besides. that excuse is gettin kind of old.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:31 | 398404 Atomizer
Atomizer's picture

And now for something completely different!

Merchant Banker


Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:34 | 398409 FourWude
FourWude's picture

This all assumes that US GDP data is correct, and not inflated or overblown in any way, shape or form, (and that's a very low probability). So that $14.4 Trillion is in all likelihood at best an extremely upper estimate from the US Treasury or more likely a distorted and inflated figure.

We've already passed Event Horizon folks.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:37 | 398410 tony bonn
tony bonn's picture

any chance of soetoro addressing "this untenable collision course" are about as high as him showing his usa birth certificate. (hint: it doesn't exist). no, liars do not deal with the truth in an honest way.

besides, tyrants who have mao envy are too busy plastering their faces all over the television set babbling incoherently. eat your heart out kim.


Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:46 | 398423 Zina
Zina's picture

The big problem will be the day when annual interest payment reaches 40% of GDP.

It will be interesting to see the government collect 40% of GDP in taxes, and use ALL that money only to pay interest.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:05 | 398447 akak
akak's picture

Zina, having lived through hyperinflations in Brazil, how closely do financial and political events in the USA and Europe today mirror those which you saw leading up to those Brazilian hyperinflations?

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 21:39 | 398699 Zina
Zina's picture

I was born in a hyperinflationary enviroment.  When I started to understand what was happening around me, being 6 or 7 years old, Brazil was already experiencing hyperinflation.

I can't tell you what exactly has lead Brazil towards hyperinflation. Older people told me it was excessive government spending during the military dictatorship in the 70's... I don't know... I just remember people were very upset about hyperinflation, and when it finally come to an end with "Plano Real" and the new currency in 1994,  people become very euphoric (in part due to the fact that Brazil won the 1994 FIFA World Cup less than a month before the currency change!)

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 21:52 | 398727 akak
akak's picture

I know that Brazil has had more than one bout with hyperinflation since World War II ---- three or four of them in fact, I believe.  It would be fascinating, and sobering, to talk to an older Brazilian about their repeated experiences with it.

I'm glad that at least you did not have to deal with hyperinflation as an adult, with wages and savings to lose.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 22:09 | 398752 Zina
Zina's picture

Well, brazilians are worldwide known by the famous "jeitinho brasileiro" (brazilian "workaround"). So, brazilians had some "creative" ways to survive hyperinflation.

As I told in an other post, savings weren't completely wiped out due to "Caderneta de Poupança" (Inflation tied Savings Account), and wages... well, there was a thing called "Gatilho Salarial" (Wage trigger), a law that obligated the bosses to give a wage increase to all its workers every time when last month's inflation surpassed 10%. If the boss didn't give the wage increase, the workers could imediately bring him to a court of the Labour Justice (a branch of the Judiciary specialized in labor laws).

Anyway, those were hard times. "Caderneta de Poupança" and "Gatilho Salarial" only covered PAST inflation, not the inflation of the coming weeks, and since brazilians in general receive wage payment only once a month (commonly, in the first 5 days), that generated a "rush to the supermarkets", to buy and stockpile everything possible, before the prices increased in the next days and weeks.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 22:18 | 398768 akak
akak's picture

Yes, I can see from what you describe that Brazilians were being only partially compensated by the government for the deleterious effects of hyperinflation --- if they had somehow been able to be fully compensated, then there would have been no point in the government inflating the money supply in the first place.

Thank you for your unique perspectives on the pernicious and destructive phenomenon of hyperinflation.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:14 | 398457 FourWude
FourWude's picture

It's not the GDP you need worry about in that regard, it's the Total Tax receipts (income to the Govt), which amounts to around $2.1 Trillion income (if the Govt is to be believed).

Of that already the US is paying around $400 Billion every year on interest alone, and that figure doesn't include unbudgeted interest payments (backdoor, underhand, non-declared loans etc).

I think it's safe to "assume" the US Govt already pays anywhere from at least 25% to upwards of 30% of all Tax receipts on servicing the debt and stopping it from growing or defaulting on loans.

The day of reckoning is merely a few years off.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 20:55 | 398603 Ragnar D
Ragnar D's picture

The control freaks' response would be that when interest alone dominates tax receipts, they just need to confiscate an even larger portion of our earnings to fund them.


Imagine:  a $10T economy, where $4T goes to the politicians.

$2000 billion/year in Entitlements/welfare/handouts/vote-buying, and

$2000 billion/year in interest payments

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 13:53 | 400041 FourWude
FourWude's picture

The problem with that, which is OK in the short term, is simply you can't squeeze blood from a rock. At some point taxing ever greater amounts reduces trade by people buying less and being less economically productive as "good consumers". At some point taxing ever greater amounts actually REDUCES government income tax receipts, simply because people won't work as much knowing they will get into higher tax bands, less workers hired by businesses for tax reasons and thus less tax payers.

In a real world scenario if we say the US govt increased all taxes across the board by 20%, so directly their income increased by effectively 20% (in real world terms it wouldn't), would an extra $400 Billion really make a massive difference to $2 Trillion deficits? The answer is mostly NO. Add in the damage to the economy by reduced discretionary spending by tax payers and you've got one heck of a fast declining GDP, and socio-economic breakdown on the horizon. The problem with taxing more to pay off past debts when you're already a highly taxed nation is that money is not productive in the least. Theoretically, the US govt could try paying off large sums of the debt (especially foreign owned debt) but this would have to go hand in hand with budget decreases and overall decrease in spending. It's the "medicine" that the US people would never take.

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 00:29 | 399012 Brett in Manhattan
Brett in Manhattan's picture

Sorry, I didn't see this post when I made the same point downthread.

This always made more sense to me as tax receipts are the government's "take home pay."

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 18:56 | 398435 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

Ooohhh scary, very scary

Forget PIIGS, US Debt Is Out of Control


Editor's Note: This article was written by Robert Barone, head of Ancora West. Barone currently serves on AAA’s Finance and Investment Committee, which oversees $5 billion of investable assets. This column was originally posted on AncoraWest's Market Insights.

The markets are in turmoil because of worry about the so-called PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain) debts. In Fiscal Crises: The Next Shoe, I opined that Greece is just the canary in the coal mine and that when we look homeward, we have our own huge debt issues, which aren't significantly different from those of the PIIGS countries. I believe that the only reason the European contagion hasn't yet spread to America is because of the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. That era is coming to an end, and it would behoove America to get its house in order.

A May 14, 2010 Barron’s piece entitled We’re Not Greece -- Yet (D. Henniger) referred to a Royal Bank of Canada (RY) study that concluded that “Although the states of California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Illinois are comparable in terms of economic output and population to Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain, RBC finds that states’ debt burden are nowhere near that of the PIIGS.” This, “even after including unfunded liabilities for states’ employees’ pension and other benefits.” As you'll see below, I take issue with the above conclusion, and the first half of this piece will deal with why. Basically, citizens of each US state are responsible not only for the debt burdens of their states and localities, but they're also responsible for their proportionate share of the federal debt. As you'll see, the combination of the two produces debt ratios far in excess of those of the PIIGS.

Table 1 shows the PIIGS data that the markets are concerned with.

Table 1

Table 2 shows estimates (for fiscal year 2010) of the Population (1), State GDP (2), State Debt/State GDP (3), Local Debt/State GDP (4), Unfunded Pension/State GDP (5), Other Unfunded Benefits/State GDP (6), Total Debt/State GDP (7), and Per Capita Debt (8) for the states mentioned in the Barron’s piece plus Michigan.

Table 2

Using California as an example, the population is rapidly approaching 40 million, the state’s GDP is estimated at $1.87 trillion, the State Government Debt/State GDP is 7.4%, Local Government Debt/State GDP is 17.2%, Unfunded State Worker Pension Liability/State GDP is 27.8%, Unfunded Other Health and Benefit Liabilities/State GDP is 3.3% for a Total Debt/State GDP of 55.7%. Translating this into Debt Per Capita reveals that every California citizen owes $26,000 for debt or liabilities contracted by their elected officials. Looking back at Table 1, this isn’t too different than the Debt/GDP ratio of Spain. And looking down the Total Debt/State GDP column of Table 2, it becomes apparent that both New Jersey and Illinois have Debt/GDP ratios equivalent to that of Spain.

But wait! Citizens of the states in the US are also responsible for the debt piled up in Washington, DC. So, to the debt of the states and localities, one must add the national debt. The first three rows of Table 3 show an average of all State (row 1), Local (row 2), and Federal (row 3) Debt/GDP and the Per Capita dollars owed by each US citizen. 

Table 3

Using the table, look at the intersection of the "Cumulative (%)" column and "+Agency" row, which represents the recognized public debt of the federal government and its agencies and an average state and local burden. One can see that at 134.6% of GDP, debt burdens are higher than those of all of the PIIGS countries that have given the markets so much heartburn. Table 4 substitutes the debts of the states shown in Table 2 for the "Average State" and "Average Local" and shows the indebtedness of the citizens of these states per capita and as percentages of both State and US GDPs. All of the states shown have Debt/GDP ratios significantly higher than that of Greece.

Table 4

Now, I'm not an expert on debt levels in European countries. And, it could well be that citizens of those countries have taken on public debt that would be similar to US State and Local debt that isn't in the figures shown in Table 1. But, because the absolute levels of the Debt/GDP shown for the PIIGS have been a cause for concern, then the debts of the citizens of the US, and, specifically those states shown in Table 4, should also be cause for grave concern. For the most part, the European states are at least considering austerity measures. And while some US states are being forced into austerity because of their inability to print money, the major contributor to the indebtedness, the US Congress, doesn't seem all that concerned. This is a major difference from what's occurring in Europe.

So far in this piece I've only talked about public debt. estimates total personal debt at $16.6 trillion, mortgage debt at $14.1 trillion, consumer debt at $2.5 trillion, and credit card debt at $848 billion. (Amazingly, of the four types of private debt, only consumer debt is shown at as expanding; the other three categories of consumer debt are contracting. I wish I could say the same about public debt!) So, on top of all of the public debt, each US citizen, on average, owes privately $53,525. Adding the public and private debt together totals $117,181 per capita, or a total Debt/GDP ratio of 248% (see Table 3). Wow! Now that's a lot of debt!

Finally, the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare are nearly $109 trillion, or about $352,000 per US citizen (see That number alone is a Debt/GDP ratio of 745% and is so outside the realm of rationality that I didn't bother to put it in the table. Clearly, the recipients of these promises can't possibly hope to receive such benefits in current dollars. Depreciation of the currency or significant cutbacks in the promises (or both) is inevitable. The recognition of the real magnitude of these irresponsible promises should be enough to cause a loss of confidence in the dollar. In my view, unless the US moves to at least begin to address these issues, that day is closer than anyone might think.

All of the public debt was originated by governments and most of the private debt by banks or other financial institutions. In feudal times, serfs owed a significant portion of their toil to their lords. Have times really changed? The lords are now the politicians and "Too Big to Fail" bankers. Many ordinary people are serfs, highly indebted either voluntarily (private debt) or involuntarily (public debt). Looking at debt in this way helps to explain the unholy alliance between Washington and Wall Street (see The Unholy Washington-Wall Street Alliance) and why the "Too Big to Fail" and Washington politicians get richer and richer at the public's expense.

While US citizens are drowning in debt, the political system appears incapable of reducing it. In fact, the politicians continue to expand it in the erroneous belief that more debt will help. There are only two ways out: years of austerity or currency devaluation/inflation. The political system won't allow the former. Buy Gold!

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:22 | 398465 Monkey Craig
Monkey Craig's picture

Excellent summary....debt on top of debt compounds the problem!

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 01:25 | 399070 terrible
terrible's picture

Hahaha 745% debt:gdp trajectory of SS & medicare liability 

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:05 | 398444 Atomizer
Atomizer's picture

Where in the FUCK is this idiot today?

Economist, author and commentator Robert Kuttner contrasts U.S. economic policies with those found in most Scandinavian countries.
- Jan 25, 2008

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 19:48 | 398491 NERVEAGENTVX

14.4 trillion in yearly GDP? Really? Exactly how much of that number is real GDP and how much of it is just new "debt creation" masquerading as a real economy?

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 20:09 | 398514 King_of_simpletons
King_of_simpletons's picture

Logically there can't be any collission. Heres an idea on how to avoid a collision, the government has to start spending more, print more $$ and use helicopters to throw the confetti of dollars. GDP goes up, Debt goes up, no collission. The graph will start becoming a set of parallel lines to the stratosphere.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 21:08 | 398631 Ragnar D
Ragnar D's picture

You've heard of the New Math, well here comes the New Chicago Math.


If GDP is infinity, debt can be too.  Any amount of debt servicing divided by infinity is 0% of GDP!


And who said there's no such thing as a free food stamp?

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 21:30 | 398676 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

New Chicago Math.  I like that.

+ 100%

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 20:27 | 398544 Rick64
Rick64's picture

"We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong … somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. … I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. … And an enormous debt to boot."

 Henry Morgenthau ( U.S. Secretary of Treasury 1937)

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 22:04 | 398746 sbenard
sbenard's picture

Thanks to all for your perspective and insight! I obviously don't agree with all of them, but I always leave with some new things to consider.

Sun, 06/06/2010 - 23:25 | 398906 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

After all, at stake is nearly one quadrillion in imaginary shadow debt, also known to those on Wall Street as "wealth."

Awesome line!

Mon, 06/07/2010 - 00:26 | 399004 Brett in Manhattan
Brett in Manhattan's picture

I don't know why GDP is always used as the metric. Wouldn't tax receipts give a more accurate picture of whether a gov't can service its debts?

Wed, 06/16/2010 - 06:41 | 416697 randeg
randeg's picture

There are vehement arguments regarding the federal debt and the closing gap between it and the GDP by 2012 but we should not be too pessimistic to voice such misgivings for we have to expect turbulence.  We did not arrive at these problems overnight so let us at least give it that length of time for the economy to recover.

Evelyn Guzman (If you want to visit, just click but if it doesn’t work, copy and paste it onto your browser.)

var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_INFINITE_LOOP_COUNT = 300; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_MAX_HIGHLIGHTS = 50; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_TOP_ID = "leoHighlights_top_iframe"; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_BOTTOM_ID = "leoHighlights_bottom_iframe"; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_DIV_ID = "leoHighlights_iframe_modal_div_container"; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_TOTAL_COLLAPSED_WIDTH = 520; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_TOTAL_COLLAPSED_HEIGHT = 391; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_TOTAL_EXPANDED_WIDTH = 520; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_TOTAL_EXPANDED_HEIGHT = 665; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_TOP_POS_X = 0; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_TOP_POS_Y = 0; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_TOP_WIDTH = 520; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_TOP_HEIGHT = 294; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_BOTTOM_POS_X = 96; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_BOTTOM_POS_Y = 294; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_BOTTOM_COLLAPSED_WIDTH = 425; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_BOTTOM_COLLAPSED_HEIGHT = 97; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_BOTTOM_EXPANDED_WIDTH = 425; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_IFRAME_BOTTOM_EXPANDED_HEIGHT = 371; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_SHOW_DELAY_MS = 300; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_HIDE_DELAY_MS = 750; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_BACKGROUND_STYLE_DEFAULT = "transparent none repeat scroll 0% 0%"; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_BACKGROUND_STYLE_HOVER = "rgb(245, 245, 0) none repeat scroll 0% 0%"; var LEO_HIGHLIGHTS_ROVER_TAG = "711-36858-13496-14"; 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Sat, 05/14/2011 - 09:42 | 1274093 isolinx
isolinx's picture

I visited this page first time and found it Very Good Job of acknowledgment and a marvelous source of info.........Thanks Admin!

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