Ten trill - is Uncle Sam good for it?
NY Times reporting alarming fiscal news for the Americans and anyone touching them with a barge pole. The degradation of their accounts is escalating even beyond the crazy numbers previously thought stratospheric:
The Obama administration’s Office of Management and Budget raised its 10-year tally of deficits expected through 2019 to $9.05 trillion, nearly $2 trillion more than it projected in February. That would represent 5.1 percent of the economy’s estimated gross domestic product for the decade, a higher level than is generally considered healthy.
Each agency now says that the fiscal 2009 deficit will reach $1.6 trillion, or 11.2 percent of G.D.P., the highest level since World War II.
Congress have enacted a $787 billion stimulus package, though less than half of that will go out this fiscal year, as well as supplemental spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and bailouts for two automakers. Also, the recession has reduced anticipated revenues from taxpayers, and triggered spending for safety-net programs such as unemployment benefits and food stamps.
Is this situation sustainable? With a deficit of 11.2% of GDP for this year the US is in such bad shape that it would be considered too financially distressed to be admitted to the Eurozone - if some benchmarking was necessary for the largest economy that's a handy one to make. And it's a compounding problem:
The budget reports underscored another factor that increasingly is driving up deficits: The cost of interest on the expanding federal debt, which is the accumulation of all annual deficits. The debt, which was 33 percent of GDP when the decade began, would reach 68 percent by 2019.
The US diminishes its position as the dominant economy and strongest currency every day - and this process will continue for many, many years as China, India, Brazil etc. grow, invest in infrastructure and consolidate their economic systems. Relative to other countries the US is on the slide.
The US cost of borrowing cannot be kept at the low levels of today in this scenario. The Fed and the Treasury will have to hike up their rates to attract savings and the near-zero (and otherwise low) interest rates of yesteryear will not be possible for them in the new market and this will blow out their cost of borrowings. Rolling over $10 trillion at 3 or 4% is bad enough, imagine having to do that at 6, 7 or 8%. 9%. Nasty - very nasty. And the US becomes more and more vulnerable to flight out of the dollar as China and the Middle East develop their own debt markets and begin to use Euro and the Yuan to settle trade. Nast-ay.