17 Apr

How Debt Saved Capitalism — Temporarily

By Walter

All this bad-mouthing of debt is downright ungrateful. The criticism of individuals and governments who can’t seem to live within their means ignores the fact that if they had not gone into debt the economy would have ground to a halt a long time ago. It’s debt that keeps the capitalist Ponzi scheme going. As long as the Federal Reserve continues to pump money (and debt) into the economy, collapse will be avoided until …the amount of debt becomes so great that the lenders lose confidence in their own scheme, as they are now beginning to do. While all the talk right now is on debt, what seems to be forgotten is that the other side of debt is somebody else’s wealth. While the US Government is $14 trillion in debt, that $14 trillion shows up as wealth on the books of individuals and institutions who are holding that debt.  The problem arises when the borrowers are no longer able to pay the lenders as promised. In a few weeks, the US Congress will decide whether to permit the government to increase its total indebtedness. If it refuses, there may come a moment when a bill, note or bond comes due that the government is not able to redeem, which would be calamitous for future borrowing. But if we did get through that test and the Congress did authorize further borrowing, the next text would be whether the government would continue to attract lenders. The question is, How much longer will debt continue to grow and thereby keep the Ponzi scheme going?

Until then, let Janis Joplin tell you all about free as she sings about “Me and Bobby McGee.”


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