The View From 1776
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Inflation Or European-Style High-Tax Stagnation?
Mountainous Federal debt blocks the path to economic growth.
David Malpass assesses the problem.
Every month Congress adds more federal powers and debt, voting as if its allegiance were to Washington, city of cranes, instead of to the voters and taxpayers. The financial services reform bill does little to reopen lending to small businesses but adds huge new federal powers, including the imposition of corporate taxes, to create a giant new bailout fund (think Son of Tarp)...
Delaying the day of reckoning, the Fed has committed its institutional credibility to monetary supercharging, as it did in 2003. By arbitrarily pegging the interest rate near zero for big banks and the Treasury, we’re living in a surreal framework in which the more federal debt, the better for GDP. Except that there are three huge losers: savers earning 0%, small businesses not hooked into zero-rate loans and future taxpayers saddled with the debt when interest rates zoom…
Longer term, the critical question is what the interest rate will be to finance the new mountain of federal debt. Will the $20 trillion in national debt be financed at today’s 4% rate or will it require 7%? It matters a lot to the budget and financial markets.
In the near term the financing rate depends on the Fed (though it denies that it controls bond yields). Over the next few years, however, the financing rate will depend on the market’s perception of the U.S.’ ability to pay all the debt on time and with dollars that still have value…