We all know that high debt is a growth killer and, at the moment, the U.S. has a budget deficit of about $1 trillion. That’s a very big number…The question is, at what point do countries have to deal with high debt levels? How high do debt levels have to be before one has to deal with the problem by lowering budget deficits? Also, what are the consequences of such debt and budget reductions? Words: 500
So asks George Kesarios (http://www.market-talk.net/) in edited excerpts from a post on Seeking Alpha entitled What Falling Of The Fiscal Cliff Really Means.
Lorimer Wilson, editor of www.FinancialArticleSummariesToday.com (A site for sore eyes and inquisitive minds) and www.munKNEE.com (Your Key to Making Money!), has edited the article below for length and clarity – see Editor’s Note at the bottom of the page. This paragraph must be included in any article re-posting to avoid copyright infringement.
If the U.S. government tries to lower spending in order to close the budget deficit gap, then chances are the U.S. economy will contract as much as Greece has contracted recently. Yes, you heard correctly. When Greece decided to lower spending in order to reduce its budget deficit, it had a gap of about 30 billion euros. The U.S. is about 33 times the population of Greece and therefore 30 billion euros more or less is analogous to the current U.S. budget deficit.
Well after about 28 billion in spending cuts Greece has about 2-3 billion euros more to go to actually producer a primary surplus. I don’t think it will ever get there, but even assuming that it does, that comes at a great cost to the economy, which so far has contracted about 25%.
Can you imagine what would happen if the U.S. economy contracted by 25%? Well it happened once in the 1930’s and the picture wasn’t pretty. They didn’t call it the Great Depression for nothing and, if you didn’t know, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by about 90% from its high point during that period.
Now take a look at the chart below. From about September 20, 1999 to May 21, 2012, the Athens General Index has sunk to the tune of 90%.
The common element between the US and Greece is that the 90% contraction of both Indexes was the result of a 25% contraction in the economy.
Believe it or not, that’s what happens when you crash the economy with fiscal constrain and budget cuts that lower pensions, government employee payrolls, defense spending, public works spending and special social programs.
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If the U.S. (or any country for that matter) cuts spending the way Greece has, its economy would contract as much as Greece’s did and its major stock market index would go down as much.
I have a number of questions:
- How is the U.S. going to close its budget gap? Answer: Unknown.
- How long can the US continue to have a $1 trillion deficit? Answer: Unknown.
- Will the U.S. ever need (or be forced) to close its budget gap? Logic dictates yes, but try telling that to Japan.
The only thing I know is that the U.S. and every other western country will have to deal with their budget deficits sooner or later. If they follow the road Greece took, the shock of economic contraction will have a huge impact on equity prices, as in the case of Greece.
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I am not sure how the debt problem in the western world will end.
- Monetary inflation is easier said than done and central bank money printing, so far, has failed to make people feel they are richer than they really are.
- Population demographics are such that hoping for economic growth as a way to solve this problem is slim (my opinion).
However governments decide to reduce debts and deficits, one thing is for sure: The impact on the real economy will not be a pretty picture. As for the impact on equities, the carnage will be even grater.
*Source of original article: http://seekingalpha.com/article/922341-what-falling-of-the-fiscal-cliff-really-means
Editor’s Note: The above post may have been edited ([ ]), abridged (…), and reformatted (including the title, some sub-titles and bold/italics emphases) for the sake of clarity and brevity to ensure a fast and easy read. The article’s views and conclusions are unaltered and no personal comments have been included to maintain the integrity of the original article.
The outcome of the election of 2012 will [only] determine the rate of speed at which we approach the [financial] cliff [because] neither political alternative is willing to change course, to steer away from the cliff. The cliff is so high that whether we go over it at 200 mph (Obama) or whether we merely slip over the edge (Romney), the end result is the same — fatal for the economy and perhaps our entire political system. It is the fall that will kill us. [This article explains why that is going to be the case.] Words: 1135
Under current law, a sharp reduction in the federal budget deficit between 2012 and 2013 will cause the economy to contract but, the Congressional Budget Office projects, will also put federal debt on a path more likely to be sustainable over time. To illustrate the effects of fiscal tightening, CBO compared its projections under current law (the “baseline” projections) with projections under an alternative set of policies — two scenarios in a broad spectrum of choices – in the infographic below.
The U.S. federal government is scheduled to implement a fiscal tightening of unprecedented severity (approx. 5% of GDP) at the start of 2013. The last time a tightening of such proportions occurred (3% of GDP in 1969) it presaged a recession. Thus, unless mitigated by an act of Congress, we expect the fiscal cliff would lead the U.S. into a recession in 2013. Below, in 26 charts, we examine all aspects of the impending crisis to gauge its potential impact on the credit markets and, by extension, our strategic investment recommendations.
This post shows JPMorgan’s estimated probabilities on four different fiscal cliff outcomes, conditional on who wins the presidential election in November.
Unless the government acts quickly, it is probable that the term “fiscal cliff” will become a household phrase over the next few months. Unfortunately, this is reminiscent of the budget ceiling crisis about a year ago. In this report we will explain what the cliff is, discuss the worst case scenario, and determine what, if anything, you should do about it. Words: 1436
The fiscal cliff returns and the economic and fiscal situation are no better today than they were a year and a half ago.
The International Monetary Fund, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, the National Association of Manufacturers and many other authorities are now warning that with the largest tax increase in U.S. history — plus the largest government spending cuts our nation has ever seen – one of the deadliest financial crises in U.S. history is set to strike the U.S. economy beginning this coming New Year’s Day. Barring a miracle in Washington….. Words: 1028