Ep. 69 - The Daunting Specter of the National Deficit: An In-Depth Analysis

current events real estate market recession Jun 26, 2023
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Ep. 69 - The Daunting Specter of the National Deficit: An In-Depth Analysis

In a world where numbers in millions and billions are commonly bandied about, the astronomical figure of $32 trillion can seem abstract. It's a number so colossal it feels almost fictional. 


However, this is our reality – 32 trillion dollars is the current national deficit that the United States grapples with.


To put this number into perspective, spending a million dollars daily would take over 2,700 years to accumulate one trillion dollars. To reach our current deficit, you would need to multiply this by 32. 


We are grappling with a sum of money that couldn't be accumulated since before the birth of Christ, even if we were spending a million dollars every single day. Let’s shed light on the staggering magnitude of the issue at hand.


The Illusory Debt Ceiling

Despite the alarming enormity of the national debt, a couple of weeks ago, Congress and the president lifted the debt ceiling a couple of weeks ago. In other words, they suspended the cap on how much the nation can borrow. 


While this has happened time and again in the past, the lifting of the ceiling in this instance means we are likely to see even more added to our already staggering debt.


The U.S. budget is about $2 trillion a year, but given past trends, the actual spending is likely closer to $2.5 trillion. The reason? We consistently spend more than we account for, hence the persistent deficit rather than a surplus.


The Interest Payment Problem

A less-discussed aspect of the national deficit is the interest payment on the debt. Currently teetering on the edge of $600 billion, the interest payment alone is a substantial figure. 


These payments are made to the public, businesses, pensions, mutual funds, state and local governments, and foreign entities. Interestingly, foreign creditors account for a third of the national debt, meaning they receive a third of the interest payment.


The Federal Reserve's Corner

The current national deficit situation reveals that the Federal Reserve may have backed itself into a corner. The impact on the banking system and the pressure applied to interest payments suggest that the Federal Reserve will initiate quantitative easing.


Bottom Line: The Future Outlook and Possible Solutions

The national deficit presents an incredibly complex and significant challenge. It's a problem that requires immediate attention, practical strategies, and, most importantly, responsible economic stewardship.


Projecting forward, it's alarming to note that the Congressional Budget Office estimates the interest payment alone will rise to $745 billion by 2024. By 2030, the figure could exceed $1 trillion. 

There isn't a bulletproof plan when it comes to solutions for this vast problem. However, it's worth noting that there have been successful administrations in the past that operated with a surplus and managed to reduce the national deficit.


The path to such a result is complex. It may require some combination of creative debt refinancing, an unpopular tax raise, and meticulous budget management.