Are there good deficits and bad deficits? Friday, Mar 4 2011 

The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology. Those, who do not understand Monetary Sovereignty, do not understand economics. Cutting the federal deficit is the most ignorant and damaging step the federal government could take. It ranks ahead of the Hawley-Smoot Tariff.

While Congress struggles with plans to cut federal deficits (i.e. cut federal money creation), and simultaneously tries to encourage banks to lend (i.e increase private money creation), it might be instructive to see why this is exactly the wrong approach. Please go to a post I wrote last June (since updated), titled, Is federal money better than other money?

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth.

–Is Federal money better than other money?? Monday, Jun 14 2010 

Mitchell’s laws:
●The more budgets are cut and taxes increased, the weaker an economy becomes.

●Until the 99% understand the need for federal deficits, the upper 1% will rule.
●To survive long term, a monetarily non-sovereign government must have a positive balance of payments.
●Austerity = poverty and leads to civil disorder.
●Those, who do not understand the differences between Monetary Sovereignty and monetary non-sovereignty, do not understand economics.


In other posts on this blog, we have discussed how reductions in federal debt growth, as shown by the following graph, “Federal Government Debt-Domestic Nonfinancial Sectors,” immediately precede recessions. This comes as no surprise, since a growing economy requires a growing supply of money, and deficit spending is the federal government’s method for adding money to the economy.

Federal debt

Clearly, federal debt/money growth is essential to keep us out of recessions. Yet, when we look at “Debt Outstanding Domestic Nonfinancial Sectors” which includes not only Federal debt, but also outstanding credit market debt of state and local governments, and private nonfinancial sectors we do not see the same pattern.

Total Nonfinancial Debt

In fact, when we subtract federal debt from total debt, leaving only state, local and private debt, we see the opposite pattern. Recessions more often seem to follow increases in state, local and private debt.


Now in one sense, money is money. Your buying on your credit card creates debt/money, just as federal deficit spending creates debt/money. Presumably, both should have the same stimulative effect on the economy. They do, but not long term. Why?

Because, unlike the federal government, you, your business and local governments cannot create new money endlessly to service your debts. Your debts can pile up to the point where you must liquidate them by paying them off or by going bankrupt. When non-federal debts become too large, a growing number of people, states, cities and businesses must pull back and stop further borrowing, i.e. stop creating money, or even destroy money by paying off loans. When that happens, we have a recession.

(As an aside, this is one reason the early stimulus efforts had so little effect. People used the stimulus money to pay off loans, so while the federal deficit spending created money, the loan pay-downs destroyed it. Debt reduction destroys debt/money.)

During the recession, and for a short time after, we tend to cut back on our personal borrowing and liquidate debt/money. Then we begin to resume borrowing, more and more, until again, we hit our personal limits and cut back, causing yet another recession. The sole prevention of this cycle, which averages about 5 years in length, is to make sure that federal deficit spending grows sufficiently to offset periodic money destruction by the private sector.

In summary, federal deficit spending is good for the economy, always good, endlessly good (up to the point of inflation). Private and local government spending/borrowing also is good, but not endlessly. Unlike the federal government, the private and local-government sectors eventually reach a point where debt is unaffordable and unsustainable.

To prevent recessions, the government continuously must provide stimulus spending, then provide added stimulus spending to offset the periodic reduction of money creation by the private sector.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty

No nation can tax itself into prosperity, nor grow without money growth. Monetary Sovereignty: Cutting federal deficits to grow the economy is like applying leeches to cure anemia. Two key equations in economics:
Federal Deficits – Net Imports = Net Private Savings
Gross Domestic Product = Federal Spending + Private Investment and Consumption + Net exports


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