Good news, if true. CBO: Deficits are falling now, are set to soar later

Assuming the following headline is correct, it’s short-term bad news for the economy, but great long-term news:

“CBO: Deficits are falling now, are set to soar later” Courtenay Brown. Neil Irwin, Axios

The federal government’s budget deficit is expected to shrink this year before skyrocketing in the years ahead, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Wednesday.

Why is it short-term bad news but great long-term news? Because this is:

    1. Federal deficit spending goes into the economy as an economic growth stimulus.
    2. The federal government has infinite dollars; it never can run short of dollars.
    3. The economy does not have infinite dollars. To grow, it needs a growing input of dollars from the federal government.
    4. Federal spending is funded not by federal taxes but by *federal money creation. Federal tax dollars are destroyed upon receipt by the Treasury.
    5. Federal spending does not cause inflation; shortages of critical goods and services cause inflation. Inflations can be cured by additional federal spending to obtain and distribute scarce goods and services.

*Here is how the federal government creates dollars:

  • To pay a bill, the federal government sends instructions (not dollars) to the creditor’s bank, instructing the bank to increase the balance in the creditor’s checking account (“Pay to the order of”)
  • When the bank does as instructed, new dollars are created and added to the M1 money supply.

  • This transaction is then cleared by the Federal Reserve

Similarly, dollars are destroyed when you pay taxes:

  • To pay taxes, you take dollars from your checking account. Those dollars were part of the M1 money supply.
  • When your dollars reach the Treasury, they disappear from the M1 money supply. They cease to exist in any money supply measure.

Because the Treasury has access to infinite dollars, there can be no money supply measure for Treasury dollars. Your tax dollars are destroyed.

The federal government collects tax dollars, not to fund spending, but to:

  1. Control the economy by taxing what the government wishes to discourage and giving tax breaks for what it wishes to encourage.
  2. To create demand for dollars, which must be used for tax payments. This helps stabilize the dollar.
  3. To create the impression that federal taxes are necessary to fund federal spending. This discourages the public from asking for federal benefits. 

Restricting federal benefit spending on benefits helps widen the Gap between the rich (who run America) and the rest of us. Widening the Gap makes the rich richer.

Why it matters: America’s reprieve from climbing deficits is only temporary as coronavirus-related government spending wanes and tax revenues increase.

The use of the word “reprieve” is misleading. Climbing deficits are essential for economic growth.

By the numbers: The CBO projects the budget deficit will shrink to $1 trillion this year, down from $2.8 trillion in 2021.

Shrinking budget deficits reduce the amount of money coming into the economy and thereby lead to recessions.

Recessions (vertical gray bars) result from reduced federal deficit growth and are cured by increased federal deficit growth.

It’s expected to rise to more than $2 trillion in 2032, reaching 6.1% of GDP, up from a projected 4.2% this year.

The deficit as a percentage of GDP is a meaningless number. It has no predictive significance.

GDP (blue) rose during periods of falling Debt/GDP and during periods of rising Debt/GDP. The ratio, Debt/GDP, has no predictive value.

Federal debt held by the public is estimated to dip from 100% of GDP at the end of this year to 96% in 2023, reflecting rapid inflation that is causing GDP to expand more rapidly. It’s expected to reach 110% of GDP — the highest ever recorded — by the end of the decade.

A meaningless fact. Whether an economy has a high or a low Debt/GDP ratio tells nothing about the health of that economy. For example:

Top Countries with the Lowest Debt-to-GDP Ratios (%)

    1. Brunei — 3.2%
    2. Afghanistan — 7.8%
    3. Kuwait — 11.5%
    4. Congo (Dem. Rep.) — 15.2%
    5. Eswatini — 15.5%
    6. Burundi — 15.9%
    7. Palestine — 16.4%
    8. Russia — 17.8%
    9. Botswana — 18.2%
    10. Estonia — 18.2%

Top Countries with the Highest Debt-to-GDP Ratios (%)

    1. Venezuela — 350%
    2. Japan — 266%
    3. Sudan — 259%
    4. Greece — 206%
    5. Lebanon — 172%
    6. Cabo Verde — 157%
    7. Italy — 156%
    8. Libya — 155%
    9. Portugal — 134%
    10. Singapore — 131%
    11. Bahrain — 128%
    12. United States — 128%

The Debt/GDP ratios tell you nothing about the economic health of the nations. The data come from an article by WorldPopulationReview.com, which falsely states:

“Nations with a low debt-to-GDP ratio are more likely to be able to repay their debts with relative ease. Nations whose economies struggle to produce income or which have an oversized debt tend to have a high debt-to-GDP ratio.

This is a perfect example of belief overcoming obvious facts.

The U.S. is Monetarily Sovereign. A Monetarily Sovereign nation has the infinite ability to pay debts denominated in that nation’s own sovereign currency. Such countries have the unlimited ability to create sovereign currency. They never can run short.

By contrast, a monetarily non-sovereign — for instance, a euro nation like Greece, Italy, or Portugal — can have difficulty paying its debts.

The belief that a high Debt/GDP ratio mitigates debt repayment ability All the concerns about the U.S. federal deficit or debt being too high are based on ignorance about government financing.

Clearly, the WorldPopulationReview.com authors of the above article know little-to-nothing about Monetary Sovereignty. 

Details: The CBO is now expecting higher interest rates over the coming years than it did in the last forecast, as the Federal Reserve acts to try to contain inflation. Higher interest rates would strain the nation’s fiscal position further.

America’s fiscal position is clear. It always can pay any debt denominated in dollars. Even if the U.S. federal government didn’t collect a penny in taxes, it could pay off any financial obligation.

Further, the so-called federal “debt” is not the federal government’s debt. It is the total of deposits into privately-owned Treasury Security accounts. 

To purchase a T-security (T-bill, T-note, T-bond), you deposit dollars into your T-security account. The government never touches those dollars. Periodically the government adds to the balance, but it never uses the dollars for anything.

The dollars remain in your account until maturity when they are returned to you. This functions similarly to a bank safe deposit box, the contents of which are not a debt of the bank.

Last July, for example, the CBO projected that the 10-year Treasury yield would average 2% in 2023; now that projection is 2.9%.

In the CBO projections, interest costs alone will pass $1 trillion in 2030.

Translation: Federal interest payments will add 1 trillion growth dollars to the economy by 2030. The federal government, being Monetarily Sovereign, easily can make these payments without collecting taxes.

As this post was being written, another relevant article appeared. It is an excellent example of the economic ignorance that mischaracterizes the federal “debt.”

Biden’s Student Loan Debt Forgiveness Plan Now Estimated To Cost $400 Billion
According to a new report for the Congressional Budget Office, student loan debt forgiveness will likely completely wipe out gains made by the Inflation Reduction Act—and then some.
Emma Camp | 9.27.2022

The “gains” are deficit reductions that the author wrongly believes will benefit the economy and mitigate inflation. They will not, though they will mitigate economic growth and probably cause stagflation.

U.S. depressions tend to come on the heels of federal surpluses.

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.
1997-2001: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 15%. Recession began 2001.

The sweeping student loan forgiveness plan will wipe all the budget savings created by the Inflation Reduction Act—and then some.

Translation: “The sweeping student loan forgiveness plan will add federal dollars to the economy, thereby stimulating economic growth.”

In a letter published on Monday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a nonpartisan federal agency, estimated that Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness plan will increase the cost of student loans by $400 billion.

Translation: ” . . . will decrease students’ loan cost by $400 billion. It will stimulate economic growth by keeping more money in the economy and by encouraging more young people to attend and finish college..”

That’s more than the White House originally projected, and it means that the fiscally imprudent debt relief effort will end up swamping the modest budgetary savings achieved by last month’s passage of the Inflation Reduction Act by more than $150 billion.

Translation: ” . . . it means that the fiscally prudent debt relief effort will end up overcoming the economy’s budgetary losses caused by last month’s passage of the Inflation Reduction Act by more than $150 billion.

. . . the plan is likely to massively increase the national deficit by over $150 billion.

Translation: “. . . the plan is likely to massively increase the economy’s money supply by over $150 billion.”

Student loan forgiveness stands to be a massively expensive project—one that not only erases recent gains in spending reduction but manages to make the problem significantly worse than the status quo.

Translation: “Student loan forgiveness stands to be a massively beneficial project—one that not only erases recent economic losses in income reduction but manages to make the economy significantly better than the status quo.”

The so-called “problem” is the increased federal deficit, which is not a problem at all. It is necessary for a growing economy.

Only one thing could make “the problem worse than the status quo”: Running a federal surplus, which invariably leads to recessions or depressions.

SUMMARY

Federal finances differ from personal, business, and state/local government finances.

Those who bemoan a growing federal deficit and debt do not understand that a Monetarily Sovereign entity can pay any size debt instantly. It does so by creating its own sovereign currency.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a measure of the economy, is a measure of spending. A growing economy requires a growing supply of money. By deficit spending, the federal government creates new dollars and adds them to the economy. 

Thus, by increasing the money supply, federal deficits help boost GDP. That is why falling federal deficit growth results in recessions, which are cured by increased deficit growth.

For the above reason, the oft-quoted federal Debt/GDP ratio does not indicate anything about the economic health of a Monetarily Sovereign nation. 

Further, the misnamed federal “debt” is not the federal government’s debt. It is the total of privately owned deposits into Treasury Security accounts.

The next time you read or hear negative comments about the federal deficit or debt, know this: The author of those comments doesn’t understand how U.S. federal finances work — or doesn’t want you to understand.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty

Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

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THE SOLE PURPOSE OF GOVERNMENT IS TO IMPROVE AND PROTECT THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

 

Why do they want to make you angry at the wrong thing?

I’ll tell you who “they” are and what the “wrong thing” is. But allow me to lead off with some excerpts from the anti-government site, Reason.com.

Fundamentally, Reason.com believes all governments are too large, no matter how large or small they may be.

Of course, making a government smaller does not make it more efficient, more benevolent, or wiser. 

Government is an easy target, because as you repeatedly have been told, government is terrible, except for one little thing: In a world without government, we would be starving, non-human, savage, undisciplined animals. 

Recently, Reason.com published an article titled, GOVERNMENT WASTE, Happy Tax Day! Here Are 6 Infuriating Ways the Government Spends Your Money
Surprised? Yeah, neither are we. By, JOE SETYON | 4.15.2019

The article refers to the federal government (important point). Excerpts:

Happy April 15, everyone! The federal government collects about $3.5 trillion in tax revenue each year, according to the White House Office of Budget and Management. Here, in no particular order, are six of the more infuriating ways that money has gone to waste.

1. $300,000 on 391 coffee mugs
2. $400,000 to promote asset forfeiture…in Paraguay.
3. $13.6 million to hire two border agents
4. More than $325,000 for Mike Pence’s national anthem stunt
5. $333,000 to study bars on the U.S.-Mexico border
6. Nearly $3 million to study dance clubs

If you’re curious, you can click the above link to read the details about each expenditure, but the point is that the federal government spent millions, billions and even trillions on lots of stuff that seems really dumb, and the writer wants you to be angry that these “useless” expenditures are taking dollars from your taxpayer pockets.

And it’s all a lie.

Those payments for coffee mugs, Paraguay, border agents, Pence, bars, and dance clubs didn’t cost you one cent. In fact, those payments put dollars into your pockets.

All federal “wasted” spending puts dollars into your pockets.

Now, if the article had been talking about state government or local government waste, it would have been correct. State and local taxpayers do pay for state and local government spending.

That is because state and local governments are monetarily non-sovereign. (So are you and I).Image result for government money

Those state/local governments do not have the unlimited ability to create their own sovereign currency; they have no sovereign currency; they use the U.S. dollar.

They can, and often do, run short of dollars, and they need tax dollars in order to survive.

By contrast, the federal government is Monetarily Sovereign. It has the unlimited ability to create its own sovereign currency, the U.S. dollar.

The federal government never unintentionally can run short of dollars. Even if all tax collections — income taxes, FICA taxes, luxury taxes, etc. — totaled $0, the federal government could continue spending, forever.

Every time the federal government pays a creditor, it creates new dollars, ad hoc.,

So what about all that “wasted” federal spending? Those are dollars that the federal government created from thin air, and added to the economy.

The “dance club” millions, the coffee mug thousand, the millions for two border agents — all those dollars were created from thin air and were added to the U.S. economy (except for a few that may have gone to overseas suppliers).

The vast majority of those dollars went to U.S. businesses, who used those dollars to pay for employees, who in turn used the dollars to purchase things like food, housing, clothing, cars, education, etc.

In short, the federal government’s “wasted” dollars actually are stimulus dollars, that grow the economy, and eventually wind up in your pockets, my pockets, your kids’ pockets, and even Donald Trump’s pockets.

Again, this is not true of state and local government waste. They do not create dollars from thin air. They use existing tax dollars for their spending. So when they waste money, the dollars come from their taxpayers’ pockets.

Image result for bernanke and greenspan
It’s our little secret. Don’t tell the people we don’t use their tax dollars.

Ben Bernanke: “The U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost.”

Alan Greenspan: “Central banks can issue currency, a non-interest-bearing claim on the government, effectively without limit. A government cannot become insolvent with respect to obligations in its own currency.”

St. Louis Federal Reserve: “As the sole manufacturer of dollars, whose debt is denominated in dollars, the U.S. government can never become insolvent, i.e.,unable to pay its bills. In this sense, the government is not dependent on credit markets to remain operational.

So, if the government neither needs nor uses tax dollars, why does it collect taxes? I’m glad you asked. There are three reasons: One mostly good, one bad, and one horrible.

The mostly good reason is: To control the economy by levying taxes on things they wish to reduce, and by giving tax breaks to things they wish to encourage. So-called “sin” taxes are examples of the former, and home real estate tax deductions are examples of the latter.

The bad reason is to reward rich political donors by giving them special tax breaks not available to the middle and lower classes.

The horrible reason is to groom you, the public, to believe that federal spending for social benefits (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, other poverty aids, college tuition aids, etc.) must be limited or taxes must be increased.

Since the people do not want increased taxes, they easily are convinced that social benefits must be reduced. 

Thus, we have the fake claim that the Social Security Trust Fund is running short of dollars. (Like the federal government itself, no federal agency can run short of U.S. dollars, unless Congress and the President want it to run short). The “Trust Fund” is an accounting fiction, designed to give an imprimatur to a false assertion.

And we have the fake claim that “Medicare for All is unaffordable. And we have all the other fake claims about federal spending being unaffordable, and federal deficits costing taxpayers money. All untrue.

The bottom line is, the rich are rich because they have more money and property than you do. The key word is, “more” because “rich” is a comparative word.

That is, if you have a million dollars, and everyone else has a million dollars, you are not rich. You are just the same as everyone else. But, if you have one hundred dollars and everyone else has just one dollar, you are very rich, indeed.

In short, to be richer, you either must obtain more money for yourself, or you must arrange for the other people to have less money.

Either way widens the Gap between you and those below you, and it is the Gap that makes you rich.

That is why the rich bribe:

  • The politicians via campaign contributions and promises of lucrative employment later
  • The media via advertising dollars and ownership
  • The economics professors via university contributions and jobs with think tanks

The primary purpose of these bribes is to induce legislation to widen the Gap and to make you accept the necessity of widening.

In Summary:

The rich control American politics. Their fundamental goal in life is personal enrichment, which requires widening the Gap between the rich and the rest.

This involves not only bribing the politicians to make Gap-widening legal changes, but also bribing the media and economists to convince you, the public, that Gap-widening is necessary and beneficial.

These information sources promulgate the “Big Lie” that federal finances are similar to your finances, and federal taxes are necessary to fund federal spending.

The rich fear that if you knew federal taxes are not necessary to fund spending, you would demand more benefits, thereby narrowing the Gap, and effectively making the rich less rich.

The rich want you to be angry at “unnecessary” federal spending, so you readily will agree to cut your social benefits.

Finally, the rich want you to believe that federal deficit and debt lead to hyperinflations, similar to those in Zimbabwe and Weimar Germany, though inflations actually are caused by shortages, usually shortages of food and/or energy, not by money creation.

(Despite a 50,000% increase in federal money creation over the past 80 years, average inflation has been moderate, within the Fed’s target range.

While federal debt (blue line) has risen dramatically, inflation (red line) has risen moderately and within the Fed’s target rate

Unfortunately, the constant drip, drip, drip of anti-deficit, anti-debt propaganda continues to brainwash the public, and the Gap widens.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty
Twitter: @rodgermitchell
Search #monetarysovereigntyFacebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

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The most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the richer and the poorer.

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

2. Federally funded medicare — parts a, b & d, plus long-term care — for everyone

3. Provide a monthly economic bonus to every man, woman and child in America (similar to social security for all)

4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone

5. Salary for attending school

6. Eliminate federal taxes on business

7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 

8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.

9. Federal ownership of all banks

10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

How false economic ideas are disseminated: Terry Savage edition


It takes only two things to keep people in chains:

The ignorance of the oppressed
And the treachery of their leaders

.

 

All over the country — actually, all over the world — politicians, media commentators, and economists disseminate completely false economic ideas to an innocent public.

Then, having received these false ideas, the public facilitates the dissemination process by telling friends, relatives, students, and strangers.

It happens every day. Do you remember when you thought stomach ulcers primarily were caused by emotional stress? Do you remember when you thought margarine was more healthful than butter? Do you remember when you tried the latest fad diet?

Why did you believe? Because you heard it or read it, so you repeated it.

Each day I am reminded of this phenomenon and today, once again, I was reminded, this time by Terry Savage’s article in the Chicago Tribune.

Terry Savage’s own website says:

“Terry Savage is a nationally recognized expert on personal finance, the economy and the markets. She writes a weekly personal finance column syndicated in major newspapers by Tribune Content Agency.

“She is the author of four best-selling books on personal finance. The Savage Truth on Money was named one of the top ten money books of the year by Amazon.com in its first edition. Her other recent book is: The Savage Number: How Much Money do You Really Need to Retire?

“Terry appears frequently on national television and radio programs, commenting on the financial markets and current economic events. She is featured on WGN Radio and WGN-TV in Chicago, with a weekly personal finance segment. And in days past you saw her often as a money expert on Oprah!”

Yes, Terry is an “expert,” one of a multitude of “experts,” who repeatedly feed you false information, and who when challenged, defend their false positions with false claims and fake statistics.

Today, being in the mood to butt my head against a wall, I wrote to Terry, the following letter concerning her today’s column:

Hi Terry,

It’s been a long time since we last corresponded, and I see you still have not learned the differences between a Monetarily Sovereign government and a monetarily non-sovereign entity.

Here are some excerpts from your Social Security article, with a few comments:

“We can’t repay our debt. Everyone knows it, and no one is willing to say it. But the United States is awash in debt that can’t possibly be repaid.”

If you’re talking about the federal debt, this is 100% false. The so-called federal debt is the total of deposits in T-security accounts. The government could pay off the entire “debt” if it chose to, simply by returning the dollars that exist in those accounts, back to the account holders.

“Perhaps a spurt of economic growth could put a dent in our massive debt, but at this stage, we are piling on new debt at rates far higher than reasonable expectations of growth.”

Reducing the “debt” (i.e. running a federal surplus) would cause a depression, or at best, a recession.

U.S. depressions tend to come on the heels of federal surpluses.
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.
1997-2001: U. S. Federal Debt reduced 15%. Recession began 2001.

“And the burden has grown, despite record low interest rates. As rates start rising, or as tax revenues fall during the next recession, the problem will overwhelm us and we will be forced to face the truth. We have made promises we cannot keep.”

This would be true of state and local governments, which are monetarily non-sovereign, but it is not true of a Monetarily Sovereign government, which cannot run short of dollars. It can keep any promise denominated in dollars.

“And we can’t just print money to pay the bills, as that will only result in devaluing our currency. Who would want dollars as they flood the market?”

In 1940, the federal “debt” was $40 Billion. Today the “debt” is $15 Trillion – a 37,500% increase.  The government has “printed” all those trillions of dollars, yet everyone still wants them, and inflation has been low, averaging close to the Fed’s target rate of 2.5%.

Federal debt = blue line. Inflation = red line. Massive debt growth has yielded low inflation.

“The government would have to pay higher interest rates as a bribe to get the world to lend to us to finance our deficits.”

The federal government, unlike state and local governments, does not borrow. Having the unlimited ability to create dollars, why would it need to borrow? The purpose of T-securities is not to obtain spending funds but rather to:
1. Provide a safe, interest-paying “parking place” for dollars, to help stabilize the dollar, and to
2. Help control interest rates.

“And those higher rates would only add to our debt burden. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that a one percentage point increase in interest rates adds $1.6 trillion to our 10-year budget deficit. Higher rates just dig a deeper hole.”

The interest on T-securities is not a burden – not on the government and not on taxpayers. The federal government pays interest by creating dollars, ad hoc. It never can run short of dollars to pay its bills.

“According to the ticking debt clock at http://www.TruthinAccounting.org., the U.S. national debt now stands at slightly more than $21 trillion. And we are in the process of adding another half a trillion dollars to it through the budget deficit predicted for 2018.”

Every year, since 1940, the federal debt has been called a “ticking time bomb” (see: From ticking time bomb to looming collapse), and still no explosion. That’s 78 years of false claims, but the debt Henny Pennys still have learned nothing.

“But the real issue is all the promises we’ve made to pay future benefits like Social Security and military retirement benefits. According to TruthinAccounting,org, adding those promises over the coming 30 years bring the total U.S debt to more than $104 trillion. The mind boggles at the thought.”

Unboggle your mind, Terry. That fearsome $104 Trillion is 7 times the current level. But, thirty years ago, the “debt” was $2 Trillion. Now it is 7.5 times that level, and the economy looks pretty good. What does that tell you?

“That brings us to the Social Security trustees report that was recently released. It hardly made a splash in the headlines. The trustees report says the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted in 2034. It will happen at the height of the baby boomer longevity spurt.”

Total nonsense. There is no “trust fund.” (See: Fake federal trust funds). As even the Peter G. Peterson Foundation admits:

“Although many believe that the existence of trust funds guarantees the sustainability of programs in the future, trust funds are simply accounting mechanisms that are part of the way the federal government keeps its books.

“The actual cash inflows and outflows of the programs are combined with all other federal programs and therefore contribute to federal surpluses and deficits.

“If a program is in surplus, the federal government’s overall deficit balance improves because it uses the additional receipts from the program to fund costs of other programs.

“In effect, the government is conducting transactions with itself but keeping track of inflows and outflows of funds through trust funds.

“Ultimately, trust fund income and outlays are not separate from the rest of the federal budget, and the sustainability of trust fund programs, like Social Security, depends on the overall sustainability of the federal government.”

Terry, everything you wrote about the federal government finances is true of state and local government finances. And it is true of business finances. And it is true of your finances and my finances. We all are monetarily non-sovereign.

But it is not true of the Monetarily Sovereign federal government’s finances.

If you wish to learn the difference, I’ll be glad to teach you.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty
Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

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The single 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 (Guaranteed Income)) 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.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY

Have you heard of the New Democracy Party?

Image result for breaking chains

It takes only two things to keep people in chains:

The ignorance of the oppressed and the treachery of their leaders.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Reader “ejhr2015” brought my attention to the New Democracy Party (NDP) in Australia. It is based on the beliefs of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), a close relative of Monetary Sovereignty (MS).

In reader ejhr2015’s words:

There are, world wide, several NDP’s; Your namesake, Bill Mitchell, is a dead set opponent of a UBI, hence the bias you see. Me, there’s room for both, IMO. https://newdemocracyparty.org.au/home/democracy.php

On the Australian New Democracy Party’s website you can learn that: They understand the fundamental truth of Monetary Sovereignty: A Monetarily Sovereign Government’s spending is not funded by government income. 

Image result for gap between the rich and poorThe fundamental economic problem facing Australia, America, and the world is the Gap between the rich and the rest.

In America, the federal government is Monetarily Sovereign, while the state and local governments, businesses, and individual people are not Monetarily Sovereign.

So while the aforementioned state and local governments, et al, need various forms of income in order to spend, the federal government needs no income at all.

The U.S. federal government literally could eliminate all taxes and every other form of income, and still continue to spend, forever. There are reasons why it chooses not to forego income, but the power exists.

The Australian government has the same power. Keep that in mind as we explore some of the New Democracy Party’s recommendations, together with my comments:

Economy (https://newdemocracyparty.org.au/policy/economy/)
No targets will be set for the government’s fiscal balance – focus is on full employment, price stability, sustainability, and well-being, i.e. as low as practicable spending gap. The resulting fiscal balance is what it is

https://newdemocracyparty.org.au/policy/employment/ A job guarantee scheme in which any person willing and able to work will be offered a meaningful job by the government at a socially acceptable minimum wage along with training, support and mechanisms for transitioning participants to the private sector if he/she wishes

This focus on full employment and price stability is the classic MMT dogma. At the University of Missouri, Kansas City, the focus of MMT thinking, there even is a Center for Full Employment and Price Stability.

We often have discussed the MMT “jobs guarantee” (JG), and have found it to be naive, impractical and counter-productive.  Although the plan has changed through the years, it has these features:Image result for gap between the rich and poor

  1. “Junk jobs”: Look in the newspapers and online. There is no shortage of jobs. There are millions of jobs, but they are the wrong jobs.
    .
    The vast majority are jobs you wouldn’t take, even if you were unemployed.  They are minimum wage jobs, in the wrong location, or have physical or experiential requirements you don’t wish to fulfill, or are unpleasant for any number of other reasons.
    .
    Those are the jobs the government bureaucrats of JG will provide.
  2. JG bureaucrats would compete with private employment agency professional personnel or would have to create “make-work jobs” from thin air.
  3. JG is based on the Puritanical assumption that work, even in “make-work jobs,” is the only moral way for the poor to receive money — “work ’til you drop,” digging a hole and filling it up. The rich, however, are not subject to that moral imperative.
  4. Because JG must be minimum wage (so as not to compete with the private sector), it doesn’t provide the real financial needs of the unemployed: Enough money to lead a decent life. (“Minimum wage” is a legal term that differs according to locality.  It is not a “sufficient” wage, which also differs according to locality.)
  5. And then there is the question of benefits, hours, and perks. How will those compare with “regular” jobs?
  6. What happens if a person is fired for cause? Is he entitled to another job, where he again can be fired for cause? Or for no cause?
  7. There are many, many other reasons why JG is a truly terrible idea; you can read about them here.

A national savings fund guaranteed by the government will be set up as an alternative to superannuation funds.

Offer accounts for superannuation funds that provide stable interest returns as an alternative to current superannuation arrangements

Somewhat confused: “. . . alternative to superannuation funds . . .” and “Offer accounts of superannuation funds . . . ” Which is it?

Anyway, I believe the above is like America’s Social Security, though no details about age or payment amounts are given.

No government debt securities will be issued

I’m not sure about the purpose of the above, but in America, T-securities assist in interest rate (i.e. inflation) control. At one point on the NDP website, there is an explanation of why the government should issue debt (!)

The assets owned by the sovereign fund (Future Fund) will be sold down in a controlled fashion unless government ownership or partial ownership is required for public benefit.

Because the Australian government is Monetarily Sovereign, and has no need for any sort of income, it also has no need to sell anything. It should give what it doesn’t want. Selling assets (“privatization”) is one way governments enrich the already rich.

Speculative behaviour in the financial markets that provides no real benefits to the population will be eliminated.

Who will determine what has “real benefits” and what does not? Most financial speculation exists as insurance for commodity pricing, or for market liquidity.

The ability of banks to sell loans on to others will be eliminated.

This is a dangerous policy, for it would tie a bank’s financial hands, increase the likelihood of bank insolvency, and reduce lending ability. I suspect this has not been well thought out.

Provide loans for business and farming investments that benefit the community when commercial loans are not available.

Provide seed capital for start up incubators that demonstrate a real potential for a benefit to the community.

Provide zero interest home loans to break intergenerational poverty

The national government never should lend. It does not need the return of capital, and lending can impoverish borrowers. America’s student-loan debacle is an example.

The national government should provide no-obligation financial support to benefit the community. In short, the government should give, not lend.

Tax: https://newdemocracyparty.org.au/policy/tax/

Create fiscal “space” for the government to enact its social agenda

One might think “fiscal space” means the government has enough money to do what it wishes. But at another place on the website, “fiscal space” is defined as allowing the government to spend without creating inflation.

This follows the MMT claim that the federal government uses taxes to prevent inflation. But, the government does no such thing. In the first place, when the government is considering taxes, it does not include inflation.

It may include rates against various income groups or rates for the purpose of trade agreements, or for “sin” taxes, but it does not include inflation. Why? Because tax changes are slow to implement, slow to take effect and almost impossible to use as an inflation cure or preventative.

Inflation comes quickly, and in unexpected amounts. No one ever is able to determine how much, and what kind of tax will prevent or cure any amount of inflation.

Instead, the U.S. Fed controls inflation via interest rates which control the demand for dollars, which in turn, controls the value of dollars. Despite MMT’s repeated claims, the government does not, and cannot, set taxes or tax rates to control inflation.

Education: https://newdemocracyparty.org.au/policy/education/

High quality public education (early childhood, primary, secondary, vocational, tertiary and post-graduate) will be free to all citizens. Existing student loans will be forgiven.

The above are good ideas, except they should not be limited to citizens. There are strong reasons why everyone in Australia should be educated so they can contribute to Australia’s economic and scientific progress.

The choice of courses to be offered in universities will be at the discretion of the respective academic board and an evidence-based clear public benefit. Public funding of private primary and secondary education institutions will be reviewed to clearly determine their public benefit.

Allowing the national government to determine whether a course offers a “clear public benefit” is dangerous. Will government bureaucrats consider courses in poetry, music, art, history, and sports as offering a clear, public benefit?

Will this also open up each course to an examination of content? For example, even if a music course is considered to have a “clear public benefit,” what if part of the course contains “gangsta rap.” Will a government bureaucrat allow it?

Health care: https://newdemocracyparty.org.au/policy/health/

Health care will be free for all permanent residents and citizens including dental, mental, psychological and emotional health care

What is the benefit to Australia, if a government that can afford anything, denies health care to those who are not permanent residents or citizens?

Welfare: https://newdemocracyparty.org.au/policy/welfare/

All citizens and permanent residents will be provided with housing and adequate food if they are unable to afford and secure these for themselves

All citizens and permanent residents will be entitled to a dignified weekly income and free public transport if they are unable to work for whatever reason

Same question as previous. What is the benefit to Australia if a government that can afford anything, denies housing and adequate food to those who are not citizens and permanent residents.

Climate: https://newdemocracyparty.org.au/policy/climate/

Investment in renewable energy research, development and implementation will be encouraged and made directly by the government to convert Australia’s economy to carbon neutrality by 2030

Excellent. There is zero reason not to do this.

The New Democracy Party has some good ideas, but sometimes it seems to forget that the Australian government is Monetarily Sovereign. The Jobs Guarantee is a terrible idea for many reasons, which we have detailed in other posts:

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
More proof Jobs Guarantee (JG) can’t work  Saturday, Jan 4, 2017

Finally, although part of the MMT mantra is “price stability,” we don’t see anything in their recommendations that deal with the price stability issue.

We believe the fundamental economic problem facing America’s and Australia’s people is: The wide Gap between the rich and the rest. This Gap can and should be narrowed by government spending that benefits the “not-rich.”

While some of the NDP’s recommendations address this issue, some do not. Surely, minimum wage, “junk jobs,” which are closely akin to slavery, are more likely to widen the Gap than to narrow it. All such jobs do is perpetuate the starvation of the slave class.

The New Democracy Party is an attempt to help the poor, by taking advantage of Australia’s Monetary Sovereignty. But it is so dominated by MMT’s mantra (full employment and price stability) it has forgotten that its stated goal is to: “Wage a war against poverty,” and often forgets the government is Monetarily Sovereign.

It mentions, but does not correctly answer such questions as:

  1. “Will increased government spending drive up inflation?”
  2. “Will increased government spending result in the Australian dollar collapsing on the foreign exchange markets?”
  3. Then it gives complex non-informative answer to: “Will higher budget deficits increase interest rates? If the government doesn’t need to borrow to fund the deficits, why does it issue debt?”
  4. Finally, there is the misleading answer to the question: “What’s to stop the government from going crazy with its spending?” Here is what they say:

The answer to the question is around the concept of the economy’s capacity utilization, also be thought of as an output gap or a spending gap, which is the difference between what the economy could be producing (in terms of goods and services) if it was operating at full capacity and what it is actually producing.

The answer is misleading, partly because no one knows what “full capacity” is. Consider the full capacity of a farm that picks by hand vs. the full capacity of a highly advanced, robot-computer operated farm. If government investment in farm automation increases capacity, what then is “full capacity”?

The question about the government “going crazy” with spending is a good one, but it is a question the government already has answered. “What currently prevents the government from “going crazy” with its spending?”

Neither the total of deficits nor of debt have prevented Congress from spending, as both have risen significantly almost every year since the Great Depression. Rather than worrying about inflation (which the Fed controls), our greatest worry should be the Gap between the rich and the rest. That is the real problem facing America.

The New Democracy Party has taken a step toward educating the public about Monetary Sovereignty (though NDP doesn’t call it that.) Though their explanations are lacking, and some of their proposals are poor, one only can hope they are a step forward rather than a step in the wrong direction.

On balance, to address the fundamental problem of inequality, we should consider the Ten Steps to Prosperity (below).

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty
Twitter: @rodgermitchell; Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

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The single 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.

MONETARY SOVEREIGNTY