Federal Reseve - Deficit Unsustainable (alternative title: zombies ate the money!)

The House Budget Committee held a hearing today with just one witness, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke.

As a consequence of this elevated level of borrowing, the ratio of federal debt held by the public to nominal GDP is likely to move up from about 40 percent before the onset of the financial crisis to about 70 percent in 2011.

A Bloomberg analysis

Bernanke’s comments signal that the central bank sees risks of a relapse into financial turmoil even as credit markets show signs of stability.

Of course we have the usual entitlements attack, all the while single payer, universal health care policy proposals are barred from the gates of D.C., despite the cost effectiveness. Never attack corporate welfare or lobbyist agenda bloat, always attack the U.S. middle class, seems to be the D.C. mantra.

I've captured just a few interesting moments from the House Budget Committee hearing Q&A. This first clip you can watch the entire hearing by adjusting the settings.

Deficits Unsustainable


For some background on the next clip, see Stimulus not targeting job loss states and where are the Stimulus jobs?

What will help Ohio Manufacturing?


This next clip implies the United States does not really have a plan in place to reduce the deficit, spending or costs. Once again, costs and inefficiencies are somewhat ignored.

On U.S. credit rating downgrade

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Let me just say:

Where the fu*k were all these "chicken deficit hawks" when the government was spending like it was going out of style plus spending on two very costly wars and cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans?

I can't wait for the Bush tax cuts to expire.

I noticed that

The ones asking the best questions are also the ones who enabled the Bush tax cuts and the original deficit spending (and probably the deregulation, I'm not sure I did not check their voting records/legislation/etc., I just noticed the "R")

For those that can do math

Bill Gross had a few pointed comments the other day.

The immediate question is who is going to buy all of this debt? Estimates suggest gross Treasury issuance of up to $3 trillion this calendar year and net offerings close to $2 trillion – almost four times last year’s supply. Prior to 2009, it was enough to count on the recycling of the U.S. trade/current account deficit to fund Treasury borrowing requirements. Now, however, with that amount approximating only $500 billion, it is obvious that the Chinese and other surplus nations cannot fund the deficit even if they were fully on board – which they are not. Someone else has got to write checks for up to $1.5 trillion additional Treasury notes and bonds. Well, you’ve got the banks and even individual investors to sponge up some of the excess, but a huge, difficult to estimate marginal supply will have to be bought. The concern is that this can be accomplished in only two ways – both of which have serious consequences for U.S. and global financial markets. The first and most recent development is the steepening of the U.S. Treasury yield curve and the rise of intermediate and long-term bond yields. While the Treasury can easily afford the higher interest expense in the short term, the pressure it puts on mortgage and corporate rates represents a serious threat to the fragile “greenshoots” recovery now underway. Secondly, the buyer of last resort in recent months has become the Federal Reserve, with its publically announced and near daily purchases of Treasuries and Agencies at a $400 billion annual rate. That in combination with a buy ticket for over $1 trillion of Agency mortgages has been the primary reason why capital markets – both corporate bonds and stocks – are behaving so well. But the Fed must tread carefully here. These purchases result in an expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet, which ultimately could have inflationary implications. In turn, nervous holders of dollar obligations are beginning to look for diversification in other currencies, selling Treasury bonds in the process.


I noticed that too but now everything Bill Gross says to me is suspect since anything he says has the potential to move markets.

I posted earlier, bond holders rule the world and I didn't actually know they placed economic chicken games with the Clinton administration.

The biggest problem is...

Now that they have started down this road .... the so-called deficit hawks will be unable to ever pull away the punch bowl.

Oh sure they will grandstand about it, which gets the MSM coverage. But the votes will be entirely different.

The corporate welfare state has not strengthened the economy or weened corporate America of the public teet ... They are fat, lazy welfare queens of the most dispicable kind. We have zero interest rates and have donated trillions of dollars with no results. As soon as the FED acts as they will raise interest, the economy will tank again. As soon as they cut off bailouts for any of the industries they are propping up, they will fail.

Wall Street is not a measuring stick for Main Street. With trillions pumped into Wall Street is it any wonder the market is rising? So what! ... we are still losing jobs at a record pace ... people will just start rolling off the other end and thus not be counted as unemployed. Interest rates on bonds are rising even while the FED is buying.

I have said before. The bailout is going to make it worse than the collapse.

The votes and the Bills - on EP details matter!

That is no joke! This is one of the best things about blogs, you, I, anyone, we can read those bills, track the legislation and publicize the actual votes....which I strongly recommend we all do.

I mean these Congress people are slick as hell, giving even floor speeches about the middle class, this and that and then the real thing which matters, the vote...oh, hell they do what the corporate lobbyists want them to.

Gross must know the answer!

Gross asks who will buy the debt?

Obviously, the ONLY answer is to "nationalize" or take back what rightfully belongs to the citizenry and was stolen from us - those millions, billions and trillions of dollars which Cayne, Greenberg, Rubin, Thain, and so many others (I believe Greenspan may be included in that gang) who profited from the credit derivatives scam, those leveraged buyout "pump and dumps" and various other Ponzi tontines.

Gross certainly understands the contribution which the securitization of securitization has destroyed the American (and global) economy.

That and that alone will begin to address the economic problems, otherwise the march onwards to the Neofeudalist State continues unabated.

The unholy trinity of offshoring American jobs, credit derivates scams and the leveraged buyout "pump and dumps" can no longer be tolerated at any level.

The problem is the cost of conservatism

Back in December 2008, Sterling Newberry posted a "back-of-the-envelope" calculation of the cost of conservatism:

over-financialization of the American economy, the waste of privatized health care, over militarization of the American economy, and the externalization of global warming . . .  [which] Added up . . .  is 12% of output, or using [Lawrence] Lindsey's 15 year time frame 36 trillion dollars.

As Newberry concluded,

So what does this exercise mean? It's really very simple: we can afford a decent retirement and decent living standards, and decent medicine for ourselves and our children and grand children, or we can afford the casino games that we have played, and the massive parade ground military that we have built over the last generation. But not both. The costs of the war and bad economic policy flow all through the economy.

The reality is that liberalism isn't broken. The reality, contra the film IOU-USA, is that the national debt is a symptom not a cause. The real cause is that Americans have voted for certain things - a huge military, a casino economy, and an anti-science bias - cost be damned. Well the cost is damning, it is damning us to this recession, and it is going to damn us to a very poor recovery on the other side of it.

Btw, a day or so after it was posted, I posted a summary of Newberry's little exercise on epluribusmedia.net, and the webmesiter the next day emailed me that it was getting a large amount of attention from traffic originating with World Bank and IMF servers. Interesting, huh?

Everytime I see or hear someone - who probably failed to foresee the financial maelstrom approaching - talking about what a terrible threat the exploding deficit is, I always think back to what the cost of conservatism has been. Any suggestions on how to fram this repsonse better? Or is it a non-starter?

Liberalism is NOT broken; the real story is conservatives have been working hard for decades to mug liberalism, rob it, and make it look broke.



I kind of disagree with "liberalism"

It kind of branched off into this identity politics, special interest thing and in terms of "generic worker" or "generic middle class", i.e. class by economic circumstance, not much focus seems to be there.

That's just me in terms of politics, but I find myself saying "where's the beef" and is one of the reasons for EP itself.


"Liberalism is NOT broken; the real story is conservatives have been working hard for decades to mug liberalism, rob it, and make it look broke."

I don't think I've seen fiscal conservationism since I was very little. Born at the start of the 1950's I was a young one when Johnson started his war on poverty. That war has been growing in strength, in size and nothing has changed much. Well, what has changed is there now exists generations that have never, ever known anything other than government checks and cheese. We have children that don't know their parents, we have baby momma's, we have 12 year old kids on the streets at midnight. Call me foolish and cruel but economic Darwinism would never allow weeds to grow unchecked.

Bush was one of the biggest offenders of economic conservatism.

What would we call a government that doesn't think $60 trillion isn't a big deal? I guess you can call them a printer....a printer of money.

talking to me?

You need to hit the reply button if that's the case.

Hey, that's my take. I'm seriously burnt out on so many of these identity politics/special interest agendas that are not the big picture, the national interest as a whole.

When it comes to that policy arena...in Congress, lobbyists reign supreme and I think it is much more important, devastating.

Ya know but politics and labels therein, is off topic on EP...it's that devil we're after, the details in economic stats and policy...so ya know take my light handed comment with a grain of salt.