America’s debt exceeded $20 trillion (not counting unfunded liability) for the first time in its history, and Trump has just cracked a deal with Democrats to permanently abolish the US debt ceiling. This year, total household debt rose to $12.7 trillion, surpassing its 2008 peak. Meanwhile, interest rates are at their lowest levels in recorded history.
Source: http://www.usdebtclock.org/ (assessed on 2pm, 19 September 2017)
Austrian economist Eugen von Böhm Bawerk once said that the higher a people’s intelligence and moral strength, the lower the rate of interest. Caveat emptor: the interest rate von Böhm Bawerk referred to was market interest rates, not government manipulated interest rates. With government distorted interest rates and a mountain of debt, nation falls when interest rates start to rise.
And it looks like interest rates are due for a rise.
If interest rates were to rise by 1%, the annual federal deficit rises by $200 billion. If rates were to return to the historical norm of 5.77%, just the annual interest payment would increase by $1.154 trillion per year.
Economists Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart studied governments who have defaulted on their debts and found that a country enters the danger zone when its debt-to-GDP ratio exceeds 90%. At that point, a dollar of debt yields less than a dollar of output. Debt becomes an drag on GDP. America's GDP is about $19 trillion, which means a debt-to-GDP ratio of 105%.
The Fed is actually quite restrained in money printing when compared with the European Central Bank and the Japanese Central Bank. ECB owns 40% of all Eurozone government debt, and it's more than 60% in Japan. 60%! Not a typo. With so much debt everywhere, it will be SHTF when rates rise.
There are only three ways to pay off one's debt: work harder to earn more money to repay the debt, cut expenses or outright default. For a nation, there is one more alternative: create inflation by printing money out of thin air. Governments will print more money to inflate away their debts, because it is the easiest and the only politically feasible alternative.
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