Monthly Archives: September 2009

Interest on the Debt vs. Collapsed Economy

“The US national debt is now over $11 trillion dollars. The interest on our national debt is now $340 billion. This is about at 3.04% rate of interest. In ten years the Obama administration admits that they will add $9 trillion to the national debt. That would take it to $20 trillion. Let’s say that by some miracle the interest on the national debt in 10 years will still be 3.09%. That would mean that the interest on the national debt would be $618 billion a year or over one billion a day. No nation can hold up in the face of those kinds of expenses. Either the dollar would collapse or interest rates would go through the roof.” – Richard Russell

Ouch. That’s if the interest rates stay low. If the interest rates went up by 1%, that would increase the interest payments by $113 billion today and $206 billion in the future. That $618 billion, by the way, would be a third of all tax receipts, so that increase of 1% would mean almost half our taxes would go toward just paying the interest on the debt.

But if we do not run up the debts, we risk an even worse nightmare scenario with crushing deflation – as prices collapse, so does consumer demand and with it, the engine that drives our economy.

But that engine is getting an awful lot of gas… in order to avoid a standstill, we may be driving the economy into a brick wall.

When the US Left the Gold Standard

NixonThe Nixon Shock was a fascinating period in American economic history. Basically, the USG had way overspent on its budget and the rest of the world was suspicious about the value of the US dollar relative to its gold reserves. When France called us on it and demanded gold in payment for goods and services, Nixon decided – unilaterally – to take the US off the gold standard.

He didn’t do it in consultation with anyone else. He just did it. It caught the Congress, banking community, and the world by surprise. Since then, the dollar has gone through severe inflation and the price of gold has gone significantly upward from $35 per ounce.

There is some speculation about the US possibly returning to a gold or bimetallic standard. If it did, it could do so with a stroke of the president’s pen. However, given the massive deficits we have here, that would not be a good idea: lenders might demand payment in the form of precious metals, and we’d be right back where Nixon was in ’71…