It takes only two things to keep people in chains:
The ignorance of the oppressed
and the treachery of their leaders.
Imagine you have been feeling unusually tired, so you visit your doctor, who performs various tests. Here is the resultant conversation:
Doctor: Based on the results of your tests, you have severe anemia. You don’t have enough healthy red blood cells.
You: What do you recommend?
You: But don’t leeches remove blood. How will that help?
Doctor: If you have too many red blood cells, eventually that will cause strokes, heart attacks, embolisms, even death. Excessive red blood cells is not sustainable.
You: But I thought I had too few red blood cells, not too many. Shouldn’t I be taking iron or vitamin B-12 or something?
Doctor. Oh, no. Excessive iron eventually will cause heart attack or heart failure, diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, hypothyroidism, and a bunch of other symptoms. And too much vitamin B-12 eventually will cause a rare form of acne. Yes, excessive iron and B-12 are not sustainable.
You: When would the adverse effects of adding iron and vitamin B-12 to my diet occur.
Doctor: It’s impossible to say.
You: So what should I do?
In summary, your doctor said you have too few red blood cells, then said the usual cures — iron and B-12 — cannot be sustained and will cause many diseases, and instead suggested removing your blood cells via leeches.
Can you draw any parallels with the following excerpt, which essentially expresses the beliefs of today’s economics:
Sustained Budget Deficits: Longer-Run U.S. Economic Performance and the Risk of Financial and Fiscal Disarray
Allen Sinai, Peter R. Orszag, and Robert E. Rubin, Brookings Institute
The U.S. federal budget is on an unsustainable path. In the absence of significant policy changes, federal government deficits are expected to total around $5 trillion over the next decade.
Such deficits will cause U.S. government debt, relative to GDP, to rise significantly. Thereafter, as the baby boomers increasingly reach retirement age and claim Social Security and Medicare benefits, government deficits and debt are likely to grow even more sharply.
The scale of the nation’s projected budgetary imbalances is now so large that the risk of severe adverse consequences must be taken very seriously, although it is impossible to predict when such consequences may occur.
Let’s pause to examine exactly what a federal deficit is. A federal deficit is the difference between federal tax collections and federal spending.
Thus, a federal deficit is the net number of dollars the federal government adds to the economy, aka the “private sector.”
Dollars are the lifeblood of our economy. Our economic growth is measured in dollars. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is our usual economic measure; it is a dollar measure.
Because GDP is a dollar measure, GDP rarely can grow while the dollar supply is falling
The graph below shows the essentially parallel paths of GDP growth vs. perhaps the most comprehensive measure of the dollar supply growth, Domestic Non-Financial Debt:
Because deficits and GDP growth go hand-in-hand, why do conventional economists argue against deficits? What are the “severe adverse consequences” to which the authors refer?
Again from the Brookings article, here is what the “science” of economics tells you:
Conventional analyses of sustained budget deficits demonstrate the negative effects of deficits on long-term economic growth.
This is what economists say, though the facts speak otherwise, as you easily can see from the above graph.
What school of thought deliberately ignores easily obtainable facts in favor of intuitive belief? No, not science. Religion.
Economics is a religion, dressed in the clothing of a science.
Under the conventional view, ongoing budget deficits decrease national saving, which reduces domestic investment and increases borrowing from abroad.
The authors make the amazing claim that adding dollars to the private sector reduces domestic investment. How giving dollars to consumers and to businesses can reduce investment, never is explained, simply because it makes no sense, whatsoever.
. . . and increases borrowing from abroad.
Obviously, adding dollars to the private sector will not cause you or your business to borrow, so we assume the authors mean the federal government will have to borrow.
But the federal government is Monetarily Sovereign. It has the unlimited ability to create brand new dollars, ad hoc, every time it pays a creditor. It never can run short of dollars, unintentionally.
Not only does the federal government (unlike state and local governments, which are monetarily non-sovereign) not need to borrow, but indeed it does not borrow.
Those T-securities (T-bonds, T-notes, T-bills) which supposedly are evidence of borrowing, actually are evidence of accepting deposits in T-security accounts — similar to bank savings accounts.
The government issues T-securities, not to obtain those dollars it can create forever, but rather to help control interest rates, to provide safe dollar investments, and to provide a basis for the dollar being the world’s reserve currency.
The article then follows with pseudo-scientific gobbledegook, which I will try to explain:
Interest rates play a key role in how the economy adjusts. The reduction in national saving raises domestic interest rates, which dampens investment and attracts capital from abroad.
The Fed, not national saving, arbitrarily controls interest rates via the Fed funds rate. Actually, it is interest rates that increase saving rather than the other way around. Capital coming in from abroad is economically stimulative — a good thing.
The external borrowing that helps to finance the budget deficit is reflected in a larger current account deficit, creating a linkage between the budget deficit and the current account deficit.
The reduction in domestic investment (which lowers productivity growth) and the increase in the current account deficit (which requires that more of the returns from the domestic capital stock accrue to foreigners) both reduce future national income, with the loss in income steadily growing over time.
But, wait. The authors express a concern about the “loss of future national income, ” meaning the economy will lose dollars.
But losing dollars is exactly what happens to the economy when the federal government runs a surplus. It is a federal deficit that adds dollars to the economy.
In short, conventional economists decry deficits that add dollars to the economy, while simultaneously decrying deficits they claim will subtract dollars from the economy.
This is science?
The authors of the article then go off on a magical mystery tour of what deficits will cause:
Substantial ongoing deficits may severely and adversely affect expectations and confidence, which in turn can generate a self-reinforcing negative cycle among the underlying fiscal deficit, financial markets, and the real economy:
As traders, investors, and creditors become increasingly concerned that the government would resort to high inflation to reduce the real value of government debt.
The common, nonsense idea is that inflation makes debt easier to pay with cheaper dollars. But so-called federal “debt” consists of T-security deposits, which the government pays off by simply transferring the dollars that exist in T-security accounts back to the checking accounts of T-security holders.
Whether, at the time of redemption, a dollar is “worth” $10 or $0.01 is completely irrelevant. Existing dollars, whatever their worth, are transferred. Period.
The fiscal and current account imbalances may also cause a loss of confidence among participants in foreign exchange markets and in international credit markets, as participants in those markets become alarmed not only by the ongoing budget deficits but also by related large current account deficits.
First, to clarify the gobbledegook, there may be a loss of confidence in a certain currency, but there never is a loss of confidence in “foreign exchange markets.”
Foreign exchange rates are determined by inflation, which in turn, is determined by interest rates and by product scarcity. When a nation raises its interest rates, it increases the demand for its currency. It is said to have “strengthened its currency.”
The U.S. has the financial ability to strengthen or weaken its currency at will, or simply to determine exchange rates at will.
- The increase of interest rates, depreciation of the exchange rate, and decline in confidence can reduce stock prices and household wealth, raise the costs of financing to business, and reduce private-sector domestic spending.
Apparently, there are different levels of gobbledegook, because this last paragraph has reached a higher level yet.
“The increase of interest rates” and the “depreciation of the exchange rate” are exact opposites. The effect of increasing interest rates is to increase exchange rates. It’s like saying that increases of demand reduce prices. Total nonsense.
An increase in rates can reduce stock prices, but this does not “reduce household wealth.” Average household wealth is more associated with the total money supply (which is increased by federal deficits), and by the Gap between the rich and the rest (which is narrowed by deficit spending, especially on social programs.)
Incredibly, subsequent paragraphs exceed prevous gobbledegook standards. Here are a few of the “Henny Penny, the sky is falling” excerpts:
- The disruptions to financial markets may impede the intermediation between lenders and borrowers
- . . . potentially substantial increases in interest rates
- . . . become relatively illiquid
- . . . adversely affects the balance sheets of banks and other financial intermediaries;
- . . . reduce business and consumer confidence
- . . . discourage investment and real economic activity
- . . . worsen the fiscal imbalance
- . . . harmful impacts on the economy
- . . . substantially magnify the costs
- . . . asymmetries in the political difficulty of revenue increases and spending reductions
Oh, the list of problems goes on and on, and yet even a modest bit of scientific research shows these problems absolutely do not happen. How can we be so sure?
Back in 1940, when the Henny Penny’s claimed the federal debt was a “ticking time bomb,“ the debt was $40 Billion. And every year thereafter, authors of “learned,” scientific, economics publications have used the “ticking time bomb” example or something similar, to “prove” the federal debt and deficit are “unsustainable.
Today, the federal debt has grown to $14 TRILLION, and we still are sustaining. The ticking time bomb still is ticking, and economists, having learned nothing, still write the same ridiculous articles.
Science changes because of discoveries. Read almost any science book from 100 years ago, and you will find it substantially out of date. And 100 years from now, today’s science books will be obsolete.
What does not change? Religion. The Torah, the Christian Bible, the Koran, all remain quite similar to what they were 100 years ago or 1000 years ago, with only the most minor of linguistic adjustments.
While science is based on evidence, religion is based on belief.
And that is why economics, as currently practiced, is a religion, or at best, a failed science, akin to astrology, phrenology, creationism, homeopathy and a tin foil hat.
Sadly, today, tomorrow, and in the future, you will continue to read the same anti-science about the federal debt. The religious are a stubborn people.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
•All we have are partial solutions; the best we can do is try.
•Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.
•Any monetarily NON-sovereign government — be it city, county, state or nation — that runs an ongoing trade deficit, eventually will run out of money no matter how much it taxes its citizens.
•The more federal budgets are cut and taxes increased, the weaker an economy becomes..
•No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth.
•Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia.
•A growing economy requires a growing supply of money (GDP = Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports)
•Deficit spending grows the supply of money
•The limit to federal deficit spending is an inflation that cannot be cured with interest rate control. The limit to non-federal deficit spending is the ability to borrow.
•Until the 99% understand the need for federal deficits, the upper 1% will rule.
•Progressives think the purpose of government is to protect the poor and powerless from the rich and powerful. Conservatives think the purpose of government is to protect the rich and powerful from the poor and powerless.
•The single most important problem in economics is the Gap between the rich and the rest.
•Austerity is the government’s method for widening the Gap between the rich and the rest.