One of our regular readers and contributors put it succinctly when he said, “This isnâ€™t the ranting and raving of some Doom & Gloom Bloggerâ€¦Itâ€™s Ben Bernake folks.Â The most powerful (financial) man in the world.”
And while we admittedly rant and rave from time to time, we still feel strongly that we’ve been on the right track discussing the real possibility of an economic collapse in the United States. Former Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson’s aptly titled book referred to the 2008 crisis as “being on the brink.”
In case you haven’t been paying attention, or you’ve bought into the intravenously injected financial hopium of 2009 and the latter half of 2010, we remain on the edge of a fiscal, monetary, and economic crisis unlike any in the history of the world.
It’s big folks, really big. Trillions of dollars in debt, and perhaps in excess of one quadrillion dollars in leverage within the system. You may have a hard time believing these figures, but this is what we’re facing.
And when Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve discusses the enormity of the situation, you’d better believe that it is serious. Remember, this is the same Ben “The Subprime Problem is Contained” Bernanke who has taken every opportunity to put a positive spin on the crisis from the get go. In a recent speech at the Annual Meeting of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, Bernanke provides some insight as to how serious of situation we’re in and makes it clear where we stand on a number of issues:
The recent deep recession and the subsequent slow recovery have created severe budgetary pressures not only for many households and businesses, but for governments as well. Indeed, in the United States, governments at all levels are grappling not only with the near-term effects of economic weakness, but also with the longer-run pressures that will be generated by the need to provide health care and retirement security to an aging population. There is no way around itâ€“meeting these challenges will require policymakers and the public to make some very difficult decisions and to accept some sacrifices. But history makes clear that countries that continually spend beyond their means suffer slower growth in incomes and living standards and are prone to greater economic and financial instability.
What Mr. Bernanke just said is that the government has spent too much money, and now you (not the policy makers) are going to have to make sacrifices. Without directly saying so, Bernanke implies that your income and living standards are about to decrease. Essentially, he is telling us that we are going into a depression (if we’re not already there).
Let me return to the issue of longer-term fiscal sustainability. As I have discussed, projections by the CBO and others show future budget deficits and debts rising indefinitely, and at increasing rates. To be sure, projections are to some degree only hypothetical exercises. Almost by definition, unsustainable trajectories of deficits and debts will never actually transpire, because creditors would never be willing to lend to a country in which the fiscal debt relative to the national income is rising without limit. Herbert Stein, a wise economist, once said, â€œIf something cannot go on forever, it will stop.â€9 One way or the other, fiscal adjustments sufficient to stabilize the federal budget will certainly occur at some point. The only real question is whether these adjustments will take place through a careful and deliberative process that weighs priorities and gives people plenty of time to adjust to changes in government programs or tax policies, or whether the needed fiscal adjustments will be a rapid and painful response to a looming or actual fiscal crisis.
Basically, Mr. Bernanke is saying that all projections he is citing suggest that our debt will not go down – ever. It will continue to not only grow indefinitely, but will increase in velocity and severity. That is, it will continue to grow until our creditors finally stop lending – this from the mouth of the guy in charge of our monetary policy.
In case you missed it there will, without a doubt, be a period in the near future where our fiscal, monetary and economic policies will completely collapse – literally come to a stop. This is what one could refer to as a Rawlesian Patriots style economic collapse. Think Zombieland.
Of course, the Fed Chairman does give us two possibilities, so perhaps we won’t go full-out Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. According to Bernanke, there could be a slower process as opposed to an all out collapse. Think Great Depression, where there was a breakdown in wages, jobs, economic growth, and the standard of living over a period of an entire decade. This scenario implies that the government is actually going to do something, deliberately, to avert a complete collapse. We believe that this “deliberate” process is what the Fed, Treasury and US government is currently engaging in, trying to pad the blow with stimulus, bailouts and increased spending. But, as we can see, this is simply not working.
Being that our elected representatives are not prepared to make the “sacrifices” and the banking cartels of the world could care less how painful the process of rapid collapse may be, we continue to urge our readers to prepare accordingly.
If you still believe that these people – the powers that be – are going to save the system and you, then that’s your prerogative. But given the fact that Mr. Bernanke, one of the key architects of our recovery, is now saying that the entire system is unsustainable, we suggest you start thinking worst-case.
And what would that worst case scenario be?
Try this – Rep. Brad Sherman discusses the 2008 TARP bailouts, promoted and overseen by Hank “On The Brink” Paulson: