"If we continue down on the path on which the fiscal authorities put us, we will become insolvent, the question is when," Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher said in a question and answer session after delivering a speech at the University of Frankfurt. "The short-term negotiations are very important, I look at this as a tipping point."
$100 billion in spending reductions from pre-planned increase levels when you're spending $1,700 billion more than you are taking in via taxes is not "real action" and do nothing to take us away from that "tipping point." It is in fact mashing the accelerator pedal despite seeing the granite wall in front of us.
The primary problem the Federal Government faces right now is that over the last three years their borrowing has become more than 10% of the economy. The "free stuff" mentality has become not just entrenched in our economic mindset it has become essential to keeping us from having to recognize an economic Depression that happened in 2008.
Worse, it's still going on. Remember, economic Depression is a cumulative 10% decline in GDP according to those who practice economics. Well, how are we doing?
Blue line folks. More than 10% of GDP in 2008, 2009 and 2010. Cumulatively this is a roughly 37% GDP decrease that has been masked. The problem is that what we're trying to mask is this:
Since the 1970s we've played this game - take more debt to mask the inability of GDP to fund its own expansion. The 1980 recession led to a monstrous burst in this behavior, encouraged and permitted by The Fed and Federal Government. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when it "worked" in the mid 1980s.
The problem is that this path didn't really work. The 1990s saw even more of this lunacy, and of course we then mashed the pedal to the metal in the 2000s, reaching thirty percent of GDP being added in one single year after subtracting out nominal GDP growth in net debt additions.
This insanity went on for an entire decade without reprieve. All we're doing now is trying to cover the inevitable hangover created by our debauchery through shifting that same behavior to the Federal Government. It won't work because it mathematically can't work - the government by definition can only be a part of the economy, not all of it. This is akin to a house cat attempting to eat a cheetah; this episode is not going to end as Fluffy intends.
The sad fact is that we have built into our economy an enormous amount of false demand. The output is real but the money to pay for it is not. Expansion of the balance sheet, whether it's done by The Federal Reserve, The Federal Government or individual consumers, must be backed by expansion in actual output in excess of input costs. It wasn't for 40 years and really wasn't for the last 30 of them.
The 1930s were bad because during the 1920s we did the same thing. But this time we continued to distort the market not once but twice. When we got the official warning in 2000 in the form of the Nasdaq crash we could have chosen at that instant in time to take our medicine, accept a 10% contraction in GDP and then rebuild from there. The banksters could have been chided and left without the ability to perform more alchemy, with some of them going to prison for their ridiculously-overstated "projections" based on alleged facts they knew were false.
But we didn't do any of that; instead, we took all the restrictions that were left on the financial sector and threw them in the dustbin, and having bailed out Continental Illinois' bondholders when they blew up "investors" were led to believe (proved correct in 2008) that should they provide capital to a bank that used it poorly they would be protected from the possibility of loss. Corruption of the regulatory process left the banksters quite certain they'd not go to jail for claiming their assets were "protected" by devices like Credit Default Swaps even though they were well-aware that the people writing those swaps could not pay. This too was proved correct when AIG, among others, factually could not pay and instead of Goldman (and others) being left with the just and proper loss the government again bailed them out.
There are no serious legislators left in Washington DC. All this talk about "deficit reduction" is a scam and a fraud. The CBO itself believes that the Federal Government will double its net indebtedness by 2020. I will remind everyone that in 2000 the CBO projected that the federal government would have no debt whatsoever by 2010. They may be "independent" of either political party or any branch of government, but the CBO has a long and storied history of being far too optimistic in their projections of fiscal outcomes.
The big lie from Southerland and Miller on the 22nd was the premise that this tsunami of debt was going to be impossible to handle in 2040 or 2060, as they showed in their charts. The reason those two Representatives were lying through their teeth to their constituents in the room is that we will not make it to 2020 on the path we are on today, nor will we get there with these $100 billion ($60 billion ratably) "reductions" after you hand out $400 billion in tax reductions for the same year. In fact, assuming the $60 billion does get passed somehow you've still increased the deficit by $340 billion. Republican claims of "cuts" in the deficit ARE BALD AND INTENTIONAL LIES.
It is for this reason that the claims that "nobody over 50 will have their benefits cut" is an outrageous fraud. The government will not be able to maintain this trajectory. The $100 billion in "cuts" are the starting point for negotiations and anyone who has ever negotiated anything knows that you never get everything you begin your negotiation with. If the Republicans demanded $500 billion each and every year from the previous years' spending and accepted $400 billion, maintaining this on a forward basis for four or five years, the market might think the government is serious and accept their path.
But when you start by adding $400 billion to the deficit and then "take back" $100 billion of it? You're a damned pair of liars and you know it.
There are no serious people in Congress dealing with this issue, and that's the beginning and end of the discussion as it exists today. The Government will not get to 2020 before the budget overwhelms financing capacity. Attempting to "print" via The Fed out of this at a rate which will be three times or more what was done in QE2 will lead to $10/gallon gasoline within five years and more than a clean double in the price of food and other energy commodities, which in turn will cause literal impoverishment of 30% of our population, including Senior citizens.
The claim that somehow those over 50 will be "protected", ladies and gentlemen, is a damned lie.
The facts are that the government will not manage to maintain its current trajectory for just nine more years, say much less thirty - which is what is being implied in that "nobody over 50" claim. Federal "gimme" programs, that is, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Unemployment and Welfare consume all of Federal Tax revenues right here, right now, today.
These are facts, and it is time we accept and deal with them.
We can fix Social Security but Medicare and Medicaid cannot be fixed. Unemployment cannot be left alone. All three of those programs must be cut dramatically, and the entire rest of the Federal Budget must be reduced by roughly half.
I'm tired of the lies, frauds and scams, and virtually all of them come from Washington DC and the pestilence that infests it, refusing to tell the truth: There is no solution that can be found when you hand out over $400 billion in additional deficits for the next two years in December, then tell us that $100 billion in "cuts" are going in the correct direction.
You're all a pack of damn liars and frauds - each and every one of you.
Where We Are, Where We're Heading (2013) - The annual 2013 Ticker
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