Sunday, March 06, 2005

Sledgehammers Held High Over the Head of America

And these hammers have long handles. Between the US government's budget deficit and the US's current account and trade deficits, the US as a whole is currently borrowing at an annual rate of just under a $trillion dollars a year (and this is a growing amount) from the rest of the world. In America's case, budget, current and trade deficits are essentially loans from the rest of the world. Estimates on the Web are that this amount is about 80% of the world's savings. I don't know how accurate these estimates are. Non-American entities hold trillions and trillions of USD denominated debt. Never mind selling this debt that they have; if they just stop making new loans to the US they would put about an 11% dent in the US economy. This in turn would create job losses, home mortgage defaults, financial business and personal bankruptcies creating an even bigger snow balling dent in the US economy. At the beginning of the 1930's Great Depression (which extended into the '40s) the US was a net creditor nation. Today it is a record breaking net debtor nation. Not a good position to be in when facing another Great Depression.

Sure, the US has an increasing GDP. So what? What is GDP? What does it really measure or show? It measures transactions. You have to look at the nature of all those transactions. Depends on what other things in the US economy look like or are doing. There are all kinds of record breaking debt being accumulated (transactions) in the US. American's salaries and wages (transactions) are not keeping pace with inflation (the devaluation of the USD by the Treasury and the Fed, with the help of some foreign cental banks). There are not enough jobs being created for Americans needing to enter the job market for the first time. I'd say that the *increasing* US GDP, given America's current situation, is an indication of wealth consumption, not creation. In other words America is becoming poorer and its standard of living is heading down, big time.

How much longer do you think the rest of the world is going to continue *increasing* the amount of its loans to America, the out of control borrower? Instead of the current $30-50 dollars a square foot for rent in a high rise in a major city in the US, some time in the future, you might be able to rent for $0.25-0.50 cents per square foot in some cases. Don't laugh. That has already happened in Dallas, Texas a number of decades ago. Wait a minute. I forgot. The USD has lost a lot of value since then. Ok, lets say $2-3 a square foot.

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