What Does Out-of-Control Debt Mean for the Economy?

Apr 9, 2024

$34 trillion. That's how much our country owes holders of U.S. Treasury debt. That's double what it was only 15 years ago. The last time the U.S. ran budget surpluses was from 1997 to 2001. I remember it well. I was a U.S. mint director at the time. The national debt was under $6 trillion. Today, it's six times larger. How did we get from budget surpluses that were reducing the national debt to deficits that added $28 trillion to our debt?

I can answer that question because I was there. I was staff director of the Senate Finance Committee, chief of staff of U.S. Treasury and U.S. Mint Director. It's not a complicated story. We rejected hard earned fiscal discipline. We blew up the budget with unfunded tax cuts, wars, and national security spending. Then came the huge economic stimulus programs following the global financial crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic. And, of course, there are the ever escalating costs of Social Security and Medicare.

I remember one government official saying deficits don't matter. I also remember a Treasury secretary losing his job because he continued to act like they do. But the truth is, deficits don't matter. Politically, that is. Tell me who pays a political price for cutting taxes, increasing defense spending, and increasing Medicare and Social Security benefits? I can't think of anyone offhand. But I can give you names of lots of people who paid a political price for exercising budget discipline. Politicians take note when the voters message is no good deed goes unpunished. So the loss of fiscal discipline has caused the national debt to rise to $34 trillion.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has predicted the debt will rise from 97% of GDP to 160% by 2054. In recent days, global ratings agency S&P confirmed its strong double A-plus long term credit rating on U.S. government debt and kept the outlook for its rating as stable. Earlier in March, Fitch did the same. How are these strong ratings possible as we're running up debts that are widely viewed as unsustainable? S&P attributed to a resilient economy with solid growth, monetary policy flexibility and the dollar being the world's reserve currency.

Indeed, we do have the strongest economy in the world. We used to think China would soon catch up to us, but its economy is approaching basket case status these days. Indeed, we have the strongest currency in the world, and despite the headlines we see, the dollar is like retain that status for this foreseeable future. But a day of reckoning will come. We have a track record of ignoring problems until disaster strikes. We can't afford that in this case. In the final analysis, we gave our Washington representatives their jobs and we can take them away. We the people retain that power.

But until that day comes, savvy individuals are hedging their bets on this debt fueled asset bubble that many analysts believe is approaching unsustainable levels. What safe haven asset are they turning to for protection? Physical gold of course. Gold has rallied more than $400 of assets over the past six months. That's an annualized price increase of 45%, just a hair less than the S&P 500 over the same period. Savvy buyers are telling us something important with these numbers. You too can protect your wealth and well-being with physical gold from U.S. Money Reserve. Please call one of our representatives to learn more.


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