David Stockman and Michael Snyder, both of whom we've met in these pages several times before, uncover the real problem with our present low interest rates and the catastrophe that would ensue if they were allowed to rise. They also show why present and future levels of US government expenditure are completely irrational and cannot continue.
When discussing the national debt, most people tend to only focus on the amount that it increases each 12 months. And as I wrote about recently, the U.S. national debt has increased by more than a trillion dollars in fiscal year 2014.
But that does not count the huge amounts of U.S. Treasury securities that the federal government must redeem each year. When these debt instruments hit their maturity date, the U.S. government must pay them off. This is done by borrowing more money to pay off the previous debts. In fiscal year 2013, redemptions of U.S. Treasury securities totaled $7,546,726,000,000 and new debt totaling $8,323,949,000,000 was issued. The final numbers for fiscal year 2014 are likely to be significantly higher than that.
So why does so much government debt come due each year?
Well, in recent years government officials figured out that they could save a lot of money on interest payments by borrowing over shorter time frames. For example, it costs the government far more to borrow money for 10 years than it does for 1 year. So a strategy was hatched to borrow money for very short periods of time and to keep “rolling it over” again and again and again.
This strategy has indeed saved the federal government hundreds of billions of dollars in interest payments, but it has also created a situation where the federal government must borrow about 8 trillion dollars a year just to keep up with the game.
. . .
The only way that this game can continue is if the U.S. government can continue to borrow gigantic piles of money at ridiculously low interest rates.
And our current standard of living greatly depends on the continuation of this game.
If something comes along and rattles this Ponzi scheme, life in America could change radically almost overnight.
In the United States today, we have a heavily socialized system that hands out checks to nearly half the population. In fact, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that gets direct monetary benefits from the federal government each month according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And it is hard to believe, but Americans received more than 2 trillion dollars in benefits from the federal government last year alone. At this point, the primary function of the federal government is taking money from some people and giving it to others. In fact, more than 70 percent of all federal spending goes to “dependence-creating programs”, and the government runs approximately 80 different “means-tested welfare programs” right now. But the big problem is that the government is giving out far more money than it is taking in, so it has to borrow the difference. As long as we can continue to borrow at super low interest rates, the status quo can continue.
But a Ponzi scheme like this can only last for so long.
It has been said that when the checks stop coming in, chaos will begin in the streets of America.
. . .
As the Baby Boomers continue to retire, the amount of money that the federal government is handing out each year is projected to absolutely skyrocket. Just consider the following numbers…
- Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid. Today, more than 70 million Americans are on Medicaid, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.
- When Medicare was first established, we were told that it would cost about $12 billion a year by the time 1990 rolled around. Instead, the federal government ended up spending $110 billion on the program in 1990, and the federal government spent approximately $600 billion on the program in 2013.
- It is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.
- At this point, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years. That comes to approximately $328,404 for every single household in the United States.
- In 1945, there were 42 workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits. Today, that number has fallen to 2.5 workers, and if you eliminate all government workers, that leaves only 1.6 private sector workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits.
- R ight now, there are approximately 63 million Americans collecting Social Security benefits. By 2035, that number is projected to soar to an astounding 91 million.
- Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.
- The U.S. government is facing a total of 222 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities during the years ahead. Social Security and Medicare make up the bulk of that.
There's more at the link. Go read the whole thing. It's worth it.