Wednesday, June 22, 2011


One of the chief areas I disagree with most economists is in the arena of context, both historically and in more theoretical arguments.

the below article regarding the remarks by Rogoff, et al., is typical of most specialized economic analysis with respect to U.S. obligations. It is also typical in the way it misses the contextual environment existing now.

"An inch wide and a mile deep" This phrase is uttered by one of my intellectual heroes, Richard Epstein, when he describes his compulsion, both in development and in furtherance of his charge as a professional academic, to seek out different lenses or facets with which to see the world. The phrase is uttered as a sort of pejorative "against specialization" where the afflicted know more and more about less and less. Its pervasive amongst most technical fields (and, alas, Economics has become inundated with its own language, complete with an acronym list that rivals the U.S. Army) and serves as blinders on a Horse...myopically leading them to a pre-determined goal but knowing very little about the adjacent terrain.

In any case, here we see the same arguments proffered about global economies and the inevitable conclusions that result from "debt". It fails to consider the difference between fiat currency regimes and the defunct gold standard. It fails to consider the geo-political apparatus that envelopes the world as it stands now. The U.S. is the sole hyperpower. It can provide instant security to any jurisdiction anywhere in the world within days. It can issue "debt" in its own currency as it sees fit, and its legal system and political stability provide the consumption engine for the world. This context is unique, durable, even self-perpetuating. Thus, analysis that depends on "traditional" measures of growth and "debt" which fails to account for these unique capabilities is doomed to fall far from the mark in terms of forecasting...because the value of these capabilities increase exponentially in times of crisis.

The shadow of an oncoming debt crisis is hindering job growth today and threatening our fiscal and economic future. The latest warning came today from “The Long-Term Budget Outlook,” an annual report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) which details the state of the nation’s finances. This year’s news is grim. We are on the verge of leaving the next generation with an unsustainable debt burden and a less prosperous nation.

According to economists Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart, who have studied sovereign debt extensively, debt-to-GDP ratios of over 90 percent are associated with lower economic growth and increased risk of a severe debt crisis. According to the CBO, total U.S. debt will race across that tipping point and surpass 100 percent of the economy by the end of this year.

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