It takes only two things to keep people in chains:
The ignorance of the oppressed
and the treachery of their leaders.
Let us begin with some real truths, after which we can move on to the fake “truths” you have been hearing.
1. The U.S. federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, never can run short of dollars. Even if tax collections fell to $0, the federal government could continue spending, forever. It creates dollars, ad hoc, by paying creditors. Federal taxes do not pay for federal spending; dollar creation pays for federal spending.
2. Federal spending stimulates Gross Domestic Product growth by adding dollars to the economy. (Federal Spending is part of the basic GDP formula: GDP=Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports).
3. The federal government has absolute control over the value of its own sovereign currency, which gives it control over inflation.
Now, let us move to an article from 2/9/18 Chicago Tribune, an article typical of what you will see in your own local paper, and see on TV, and hear on the radio:
Budget deal would pour gas on an economy running hot
By Don Lee Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — If the GOP’s $1.5 trillion tax-cut package powers the American economy like rocket fuel as President Donald Trump predicts, the new congressional budget deal could, if passed, become the extra boost that causes the engine to overheat.
“Overheat” means inflation. The prediction, very simply, is that deficit spending will cause inflation.
That has been the concern for the past 78 years. In 1940, when the “Debt Held by the Public” was 40 Billion, it was called a “ticking time bomb.” Every year since, it has been termed some variation of “ticking time bomb.” Yet today, inflation is low and controlled.
Seventy-eight years of being wrong have not taught the economists and pundits humility.
The budget compromise that was struggling late Thursday to win passage provided a bipartisan answer to the latest fiscal crisis. But lawmakers did so by raising spending caps on military and non-defense programs that would add $300 billion to $400 billion to the deficit.
Coming on top of the tax cuts passed late last year, the increased spending caps — plus tens of billions of additional money for hurricane relief — would throw more fuel to an economy that is already perking up.
“Throw more fuel” means to grow the economy. Aside from inflation fears — the same false fears expressed for the past 78 years — why is growing the economy considered a bad thing? I’ll tell you later in this post.
Analysts say that raises the odds of higher inflation and interest rates, precisely the concerns that in recent days have stoked investor fears and stock market volatility.
The budget deal also means that the United States probably would be returning to trillion-dollar annual deficits next year — much sooner than expected and under a government controlled by Republicans who traditionally had identified themselves as the party of fiscal probity.
The fear is threefold:
- That increased federal deficit is inflationary, and
- In response, the Fed will raise interest rates to combat the inflation, and
- Higher rates slow the economy, by making borrowing more difficult.
Let’s discuss each:
I. Is increased federal deficit spending inflationary?
The formula is Value = Demand/Supply. So if the Supply of money increases and/or the Demand for money decreases, the Value of money will be reduced, which means more money will be required to buy the same goods, i.e. inflation.
That is the formula. Here is the reality:
For at least the last 45 years, there has been no relationship between our huge deficits and inflation, but why? Is something wrong with the formula?
Well, actually there is a relationship between deficits and inflation, but that relationship is overshadowed by a far more important relationship:
The price of oil also is determined by the formula, Value = Demand/Supply. When the Demand goes up and/or the Supply goes down, the price of oil falls, and oil is far more influential on inflation than are federal deficits.
The price of oil affects the prices of nearly every product and service in the world.
That is why federal deficit spending has not caused inflation. Oil prices have, on average, gone down.
II. In response to inflation, will the Fed will raise interest rates?
Although we have shown that federal deficit spending has not caused inflation, even the suspicion of a coming inflation will cause the Fed to increase interest rates. Why?
Because of this formula: Demand = Reward/Risk.
To combat inflation, the Fed wants to make dollars more valuable, and one way to do this is to increase the Demand for dollars. The Reward for owning dollars is interest.
The higher the interest rate, the more people want to own interest paying forms of money — savings accounts, bonds, notes, and bills. The demand for money increases, which increases the value (aka, the “strength”) of the dollar, thus reducing inflation.
III. Do higher rates slow the economy, by making borrowing more difficult?
This is widely believed, and this belief alone is one of the reasons why the stock market falls when the Fed raises rates. Traders sell just because they expect a downturn.
The other reason the stock market falls: Raising rates makes bonds more attractive, so investors sell stocks to purchase bonds.
That’s how the stock market operates, but what about the economy? Do higher rates slow economic growth?
There seems to be either no relationship between interest rates and GDP growth, or there actually is a reverse effect, with higher rates coinciding with higher GDP growth.
How can that be?
Two reasons: Federal deficit spending causes the issuance of more Treasury securities, which increases the amount of interest the federal government pays into the economy. And this interest payment increase is compounded by higher interest rates.
All that additional federal deficit spending is stimulative. Therefore:
Far from being a danger or a burden, growing deficit spending grows the economy, and reduced deficit growth is deflationary.
Recessions are introduced by reduced deficit growth, while recessions are cured by increased deficit growth.
Extreme reductions in deficit growth (i.e. federal surpluses) tend to cause extreme recessions (i.e. depressions):
1804-1812: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 48%. Depression began 1807.
1817-1821: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 29%. Depression began 1819.
1823-1836: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 99%. Depression began 1837.
1852-1857: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 59%. Depression began 1857.
1867-1873: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 27%. Depression began 1873.
1880-1893: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 57%. Depression began 1893.
1920-1930: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 36%. Depression began 1929.
When Trump took office about a year ago, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the nation’s deficit would run between $500 billion and $700 billion annually for a few years, not breaching $1 trillion until 2022.
With lower tax revenues expected and now additional spending and an accompanying agreement to lift the debt ceiling, some experts reckon the deficit would blow past $1 trillion in fiscal 2019 and keep rising.
Said another way:
“The Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would add between $500 billion and $700 billion in stimulus growth to the economy, annually for a few years, not breaching $1 trillion until 2022.
“With lower tax revenues expected and now additional spending and an accompanying agreement to lift the debt ceiling, some experts reckon the federal government will add a $1 trillion worth of economic growth in fiscal 2019 and keep adding growth dollars, thereafter.”
The complaint seems to be that growth is a bad thing, though as we have seen (above), economic growth does not cause inflation.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said that the president is concerned about the increasing debt. And on Thursday, deputy press secretary Raj Shah said the budget the White House plans to release Monday will show a “path” toward declining deficits.
A “path” toward declining deficits is a path toward more frequent recessions and depressions.
“Economic growth is essential to cutting deficits,” he said. “We are committed to fiscal discipline.”
The above is like saying, “Financial growth is essential to lower income,” completely senseless. “Fiscal discipline” means to reduce the income of the economy, also senseless.
The U.S. debt held by the public, including foreign investors, is currently about $15 trillion.
“We’ve already entered a period where we have these structural deficits, and to answer that with a new round of tax cuts that are unpaid for, and a new round of spending that’s unpaid for, is just adding insult to injury,” said Michael Peterson, president and chief executive of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a non-partisan organization focused on the country’s fiscal challenges.
First, to say that the Peter G. Peterson Foundation is “non-partisan” is like saying the GOP is non-partisan. It’s a right-wing foundation.
Second, the federal government does not use taxes to pay for spending; it uses money creation. Every time the federal government pays a creditor, it does so with newly created dollars, not with tax dollars.
Therefore, neither spending nor tax cuts can be “paid for.”
Some Republican lawmakers balked at the budget deal, calling it fiscally irresponsible.
No, “irresponsible” is to cut deficit spending and sink the nation into yet another unnecessary recession or depression.
The Great Recession severely shrank government revenues, and spending surged in 2009 as President Barack Obama and Congress responded with a huge economic stimulus package.
The federal deficit spiked to $1.5 trillion in 2009 and remained above $1 trillion for the next three years, then went back down to an average of around $575 billion a year in Obama’s second term through 2016, representing a little over the 3 percent share of gross domestic product that economists consider a maximum sustainable rate.
The politicians agree that deficit spending stimulates economic growth, but ignore that fact when we are between recessions.
The Republican tax cuts and new budget package amount to a similarly massive fiscal stimulus, but it is coming at a time when the economy is not faltering.
We have a recession every five years on average because the politicians drive the “economic car” by switching from gas to brake to gas to brake, forcing the economy to lurch forward in growth, then fall back in recession, again and again, and again.
Economists warn that the rising national debt will choke growth as more public money ends up going to support deficits instead of economically productive uses.
“You already have deficits growing too fast, you cut the (tax) revenue out from under us, you increase the spending, and on top of that you rule out making changes to entitlement programs,” said Marc Goldwein, senior policy director at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB). “It ultimately spells fiscal disaster.”
The CRFB is the ultimate “Debt Henny Penny” organization, continually warning about debt-disaster, that never has come, and never will come. Instead, the disasters come when we cut deficit spending.
For 78 years we have been warned about that “ticking time bomb.” That fake bomb still is “ticking,” and the Henny Pennys still are warning. Wrong for all these years and still crying “Wolf!”
Why? Notice that phrase “entitlement programs” in the CRFB comment?
The real goal is to widen the Gap between the rich and the rest by cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and all poverty aids.
The Gap is what makes the rich, rich. Without the Gap, no one would be rich. (We all would be the same.) And the wider the Gap, the richer they are.
So the rich bribe the politicians (via campaign contributions and promises of lucrative employment later), the media (via ownership and advertising dollars), and the economists (via contributions to universities and lucrative “think tank” employment) to spread “The Big Lie” that federal financing is like personal financing.
But federal financing is unique. Debt is not a burden on the federal government or on federal taxpayers, and it does not force inflation on us.
Our opinion leaders are paid to make you believe that good is bad, and up is down, so they can keep you down and lift the rich up.
And that is what all the “ticking time bomb” lies are about.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
The most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the have-mores and the have-less.
Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.
Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:
Ten Steps To Prosperity:
1. ELIMINATE FICA (Ten Reasons to Eliminate FICA )
Although the article lists 10 reasons to eliminate FICA, there are two fundamental reasons:
*FICA is the most regressive tax in American history, widening the Gap by punishing the low and middle-income groups, while leaving the rich untouched, and
*The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, neither needs nor uses FICA to support Social Security and Medicare.
2. FEDERALLY FUNDED MEDICARE — PARTS A, B & D, PLUS LONG TERM CARE — FOR EVERYONE (H.R. 676, Medicare for All )
This article addresses the questions:
*Does the economy benefit when the rich can afford better health care than can the rest of Americans?
*Aside from improved health care, what are the other economic effects of “Medicare for everyone?”
*How much would it cost taxpayers?
*Who opposes it?”
3. PROVIDE A MONTHLY ECONOMIC BONUS TO EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN AMERICA (similar to Social Security for All) (The JG (Jobs Guarantee) vs the GI (Guaranteed Income) vs the EB (Economic Bonus)) Or institute a reverse income tax.
This article is the fifth in a series about direct financial assistance to Americans:
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Employer of Last Resort is a bad idea. Sunday, Jan 1 2012
MMT’s Job Guarantee (JG) — “Another crazy, rightwing, Austrian nutjob?” Thursday, Jan 12 2012
Why Modern Monetary Theory’s Jobs Guarantee is like the EU’s euro: A beloved solution to the wrong problem. Tuesday, May 29 2012
“You can’t fire me. I’m on JG” Saturday, Jun 2 2012
Economic growth should include the “bottom” 99.9%, not just the .1%, the only question being, how best to accomplish that. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) favors giving everyone a job. Monetary Sovereignty (MS) favors giving everyone money. The five articles describe the pros and cons of each approach.
4. FREE EDUCATION (INCLUDING POST-GRAD) FOR EVERYONE Five reasons why we should eliminate school loans
Monetarily non-sovereign State and local governments, despite their limited finances, support grades K-12. That level of education may have been sufficient for a largely agrarian economy, but not for our currently more technical economy that demands greater numbers of highly educated workers.
Because state and local funding is so limited, grades K-12 receive short shrift, especially those schools whose populations come from the lowest economic groups. And college is too costly for most families.
An educated populace benefits a nation, and benefitting the nation is the purpose of the federal government, which has the unlimited ability to pay for K-16 and beyond.
5. SALARY FOR ATTENDING SCHOOL
Even were schooling to be completely free, many young people cannot attend, because they and their families cannot afford to support non-workers. In a foundering boat, everyone needs to bail, and no one can take time off for study.
If a young person’s “job” is to learn and be productive, he/she should be paid to do that job, especially since that job is one of America’s most important.
6. ELIMINATE FEDERAL TAXES ON BUSINESS
Businesses are dollar-transferring machines. They transfer dollars from customers to employees, suppliers, shareholders and the federal government (the later having no use for those dollars). Any tax on businesses reduces the amount going to employees, suppliers and shareholders, which diminishes the economy. Ultimately, all business taxes reduce your personal income.
7. INCREASE THE STANDARD INCOME TAX DEDUCTION, ANNUALLY. (Refer to this.) Federal taxes punish taxpayers and harm the economy. The federal government has no need for those punishing and harmful tax dollars. There are several ways to reduce taxes, and we should evaluate and choose the most progressive approaches.
Cutting FICA and business taxes would be a good early step, as both dramatically affect the 99%. Annual increases in the standard income tax deduction, and a reverse income tax also would provide benefits from the bottom up. Both would narrow the Gap.
8. TAX THE VERY RICH (THE “.1%) MORE, WITH HIGHER PROGRESSIVE TAX RATES ON ALL FORMS OF INCOME. (TROPHIC CASCADE)
There was a time when I argued against increasing anyone’s federal taxes. After all, the federal government has no need for tax dollars, and all taxes reduce Gross Domestic Product, thereby negatively affecting the entire economy, including the 99.9%.
But I have come to realize that narrowing the Gap requires trimming the top. It simply would not be possible to provide the 99.9% with enough benefits to narrow the Gap in any meaningful way. Bill Gates reportedly owns $70 billion. To get to that level, he must have been earning $10 billion a year. Pick any acceptable Gap (1000 to 1?), and the lowest paid American would have to receive $10 million a year. Unreasonable.
9. FEDERAL OWNERSHIP OF ALL BANKS (Click The end of private banking and How should America decide “who-gets-money”?)
Banks have created all the dollars that exist. Even dollars created at the direction of the federal government, actually come into being when banks increase the numbers in checking accounts. This gives the banks enormous financial power, and as we all know, power corrupts — especially when multiplied by a profit motive.
Although the federal government also is powerful and corrupted, it does not suffer from a profit motive, the world’s most corrupting influence.
10. INCREASE FEDERAL SPENDING ON THE MYRIAD INITIATIVES THAT BENEFIT AMERICA’S 99.9% (Federal agencies)Browse the agencies. See how many agencies benefit the lower- and middle-income/wealth/ power groups, by adding dollars to the economy and/or by actions more beneficial to the 99.9% than to the .1%.
Save this reference as your primer to current economics. Sadly, much of the material is not being taught in American schools, which is all the more reason for you to use it.
The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.
14 thoughts on “Good is bad. Up is down. Other “truths” the authorities are telling you”
Brilliant post. Thanks
Rodger, did you know the US original Constitution does not give monopoly power to create its currency? That was apparently added in 1896. I’ve looked through the document and it doesn’t say anything about creating the dollar etc It talks about taxes but there is not much about the economy. Maybe you know different? It was pointed out to me last week.
I thought you might be onto it. Thanks for the link.
That’s good too. I’ll pass it on. Still however the Constitution doesn’t create the dollar as its currency. How’d they get around that?
[I referred to the Joseph Firestone link}
Coinage Act, 1792.
Joseph Firestone wrote a good article on the subject: http://www.josephmfirestone.com/2018/01/02/the-national-debt-is-congresss-fault-revisited/
Nice article, and along the lines you’ve been preaching all these years. Can you please simplify it a bit?
How exactly does he propose to get rid of this $20T debt?
What exactly would Congress have to do to facilitate this action now, and going forward?
Does this mean no more treasuries? Or, simply that total T-bills/notes do not have to equal deficits?
Does this also mean we don’t ever tally our spending? That would probably devalue USD.
He proposes to disconnect T-security issuance from spending. The $20 Trillion debt would disappear as few new additional T-securities were created, and each T-security reached maturity, and the deposits in T-security accounts were returned to their owners.
His recommendation is that Congress attach his suggested paragraph to every spending bill. That would provide the above-mentioned disconnection.
Right. It does not necessarily mean no more Treasuries. The federal government could accept T-security deposits just as any bank accepts deposits.
We could continue to tally our spending. Instead of calling it “federal deficits,” we could call it “private surpluses.”
Firestone originally suggested the Treasury create a multi-trillion dollar platinum coin (They have the right to do this.) and deposit the coin with the Federal Reserve Bank to offset federal deficits. This not only would follow existing law, but demonstrate the ridiculousness of the current process.
The problem is, of course, that Congress knows, but does not want to reveal, the ridiculousness of the current process. By pretending the U.S. is not Monetarily Sovereign, Congress is able to cut social spending and widen the gap between the rich and the rest — exactly what Congress’s rich donors want.
Sadly, Firestone and I are asking Congress to do something their multi-million dollar donors don’t want, and instead do what is ethically correct. Imagine asking Congress to be ethical.
More lies from Congress:
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows:
“Our original play was to make sure that we funded the military, we kept other spending flat.
“The House Freedom Caucus opposes the deal to raise spending caps on discretionary spending by nearly $300 billion over two years. We support funding for our military, but growing the size of government by 13 percent adds to the swamp instead of draining it.”
“That’s what we passed, and yet what we got put on the House floor just a few hours later was this unbelievable budget deal that spent American taxpayer dollars.”
When Meadows refers to “other spending,” he means social programs — programs that aid the middle-classes and the poor. He likes the military and the rich, but hates the rest.
He considers the middle classes and the poor to be the “Swamp.”
He pretends the federal government can’t afford social programs, but it can afford huge tax breaks for the rich and more support for the military.
Why then, does the Government issue debt, when as you say it just needs to “spend” for its needs?????
1. Monetary Sovereignty comes in different degrees. During most of America’s existence, we were on metal standards, which meant we were less Sovereign. In 1971, we went off all metal standards, and became more fully Sovereign, but the metal standard laws that required the Treasury to issue T-securities never were changed.
2. T-securities assist the government in controlling interest rates, which in turn assist in controlling inflation.
3. T-securities provide the safest possible place to deposit dollars in the event of a financial emergency. The very existence of these safe havens helps keep the world’s finances calm.
That said, our Monetarily Sovereign government has the power to run deficits without issuing any T-securities at all. If you Google “Joseph M. Firestone,” you will see his efforts to implement ideas along those lines.