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Monday, April 3, 2017
USA adopted AUSTERITY and allowed deflation to dominate – the same mistake made in Europe today
Debt Burden v Equities
Posted Apr 3, 2017 by Martin Armstrong
QUESTION: Hey Marty, If the US debt bubble bursts, how does this not affect the banks and insurance companies, as they hold over $1 trillion worth of US debt? Wouldn’t these instances falter also? If they falter, wouldn’t that bring down the entire stock market as well? If this is the case, then how can the stock market rally as you have been stating? Thanks
ANSWER: Everyone focuses constantly on the US, and they tout how $20 trillion will all default. This is just first, NONSENSE, and secondly a gross exaggeration without looking at total global sovereign debt. Total global debt stands at $230 trillion which is more than 300% of total annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the entire world. The United States recorded a government debt equivalent to 104.17 percent of the country’s GDP. If we look at the US debt and narrow the focus to just government debt, then we find that the US accounts for $20 trillion out of nearly $59 trillion or about 1/3rd. Those who keep ranting about the US debt level, have said the same thing at every milestone. First it was $1 trillion back in 1980, Then, $5 trillion, $10 trillion and now its is $20 trillion.
Intra-governmental Holdings of US Federal debt are rarely ever talked about, which includes 230 other federal agencies holding US debt totaling $5.554 trillion, or almost 28% of the entire federal debt. This includes the Social Security Trust Fund, which can only invest in government debt. As of December 31, 2016, here is the breakdown of who owns what:
Social Security Trust Fund & Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund = $2.801 trillion
Office of Personnel Management Retirement = $888 billion
Military Retirement Fund = $670 billion
Medicare Trust Fund = $294 billion
Misc. Government retirement funds = $304 billion
This is what we would call the asset balance sheet. If this were a business, we would then look to see how much cash it has on hand as well. That amounted to $580 billion as of December 31st, 2016. (Source: Treasury Bulletin, Monthly Treasury Statement, Table 6. Schedule D-Investments of Federal Government Accounts in Federal Securities, U.S. Department of the Treasury, December 2016.)
Now, the remaining debt as of December 31st, 2016 held outside the government amounted to $14.403 trillion. Foreign governments and investors hold nearly half of that figure and 25% is held by yet other governmental entities non-federal, which are state and local governments, but legally also includes the Federal Reserve since it is technically not an agency. Now, looking to the private sector, about 15% is held by mutual funds, private pension funds, savings bonds or individual Treasury notes. Businesses own only about 10% of the national debt, which includes the banks and insurance companies. This also would include various trusts and investors holding T-Bills on deposit for trading. Then we have about 30% of the debt that is held by foreign holders, which includes governments around the globe as part of their foreign reserves. So here is what this looks like:
Foreign – $6.281 trillion
Federal Reserve – $2.463 trillion
Mutual funds – $1.379 trillion
State and local government, including their pension funds – $874 billion
Private pension funds – $544 billion
Banks – $570 billion
Insurance companies – $304 billion
U.S. savings bonds – $169 billion
All Others = $1.349 trillion*
Now, a close review of this balance sheet shows that Social Security and all retirement/pension funds, hold almost 50% of the national debt. Let’s get to the bottom line. In the proposition that the United States actually defaulted on its debt, yes about 30% is held by foreign reserves and that would mean that the world monetary system would collapse. It is highly unlikely that such an event would ever take place and it most certainly is even less that the total debt owed by emerging market which stands at about 50% greater than that figure. Emerging Market corporate debt share of the global credit market has been increasing and now accounts for about 18% of all U.S. dollar-denominated corporate debt in the world. Emerging Market debt has increased 300% since 2005 alone. The USA has the biggest economy and the most viable. Yes, if USA defaulted on its debt it would be lights out for the entire world. However, current and future retirees would be hurt the most and that would provoke civil unrest like you have never seen.
The risk is by no means that the USA defaults. The risk is that the defaults start not in the core economy, but it ALWAYS begins from the outside and spreads inward to attack the core. The foreign bond defaults in 1931 is what created the Great Depression and it did not NOT because the US defaulted, but because the USA adopted AUSTERITY and allowed deflation to dominate – the same mistake made in Europe today.
* Individuals, brokers, dealers, bank personal trusts and estates, corporate/non-corporate businesses, various government-sponsored enterprises, and other misc investors. (Sources: “Factors Affecting Reserve Balance,” Federal Reserve, January 18, 2017. “Treasury Bulletin,” Table OFS-2, Ownership of Federal Securities, U.S. Department of the Treasury, June 2016.)