Solving the Debt Crisis the American Way

Our forefathers turned their debts into currency. That Constitutional approach could work today.

On Friday, Jan. 13, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote to Congress that the U.S. government will hit its borrowing limit on Jan. 19, forcing the new Congress into negotiations over the debt limit much sooner than expected. She said she will use accounting maneuvers she called “extraordinary measures” to keep U.S. finances running for a few months, pushing the potential date for default to sometime in the summer. But she urged Congress to get to work on raising the debt ceiling.

Lifting it above its current $31.385 trillion limit won’t be easy with a highly divided and gridlocked Congress. As former Republican politician David Stockman crowed in a Jan. 11 article:

15 [House] votes and the slings and arrows of MSM opprobrium were well worth it. That’s because the GOP’s anti-McCarthy insurrection obtained concessions which just might slow America’s headlong rush to fiscal armageddon. And just in the nick of time!

We are referring, of course, to the Speaker elect’s promise that there will be no more debt ceiling increases without off-setting spending cuts; and that in the event of a double-cross a single Member of the House may table a motion to vacate the Speaker’s chair.

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What Does the Fed’s Jerome Powell Have Up His Sleeve?

The Real Goal of Fed Policy: Breaking Inflation, the Middle Class or the Bubble Economy?

“There is no sense that inflation is coming down,” said Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at a November 2 press conference, — this despite eight months of aggressive interest rate hikes and “quantitative tightening.” On November 30, the stock market rallied when he said smaller interest rate increases are likely ahead and could start in December. But rates will still be increased, not cut. “By any standard, inflation remains much too high,” Powell said. “We will stay the course until the job is done.”

The Fed is doubling down on what appears to be a failed policy, driving the economy to the brink of recession without bringing prices down appreciably. Inflation results from “too much money chasing too few goods,” and the Fed has control over only the money – the “demand” side of the equation. Energy and food are the key inflation drivers, and they are on the supply side. As noted by Bloomberg columnist Ramesh Ponnuru  in the Washington Post in March:

Fixing supply chains is of course beyond any central bank’s power. What the Fed can do is reduce spending levels, which would in turn exert downward pressure on prices. But this would be a mistaken response to shortages. It would answer a scarcity of goods by bringing about a scarcity of money. The effect would be to compound the hit to living standards that supply shocks already caused.

So why is the Fed forging ahead? Some pundits think Chairman Powell has something else up his sleeve.

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The Food Shortage Solution in Your Own Backyard

While the global food systems we depend on come under increasing strain, there’s a solution to the growing crisis that most Americans can find in their own backyards–or front lawns.

A confluence of crises—lockdowns and business closures, mandates and worker shortages, supply chain disruptions and inflation, sanctions and war—have compounded to trigger food shortages; and we have been warned that they may last longer than the food stored in our pantries. What to do? 

Jim Gale, founder of Food Forest Abundance, pointed out in a recent interview with Del Bigtree that in the United States there are 40 million acres of lawn. Lawns are the most destructive monoculture on the planet, absorbing more resources and pesticides than any other crop, without providing any yield. If we were to turn 30% of that lawn into permaculture-based food gardens, says Gale, we could be food self-sufficient without relying on imports or chemicals. 

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Rather Than Sink Main Street by Raising Interest Rates, the Fed Could Save It. Here’s How. 

Inflation is plaguing consumer markets, putting pressure on the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to tighten the money supply. But as Rex Nutting writes in a MarketWatch column titled “Why Interest Rates Aren’t Really the Right Tool to Control Inflation”:

It may be heresy to those who think the Fed is all-powerful, but the honest answer is that raising interest rates wouldn’t put out the fire. Short of throwing millions of people out of work in a recession, higher rates wouldn’t bring supply and demand back into balance, a necessary condition for price stability.

The Fed (and those who are clamoring for the Fed to raise rates immediately) have misdiagnosed the problem with the economy and are demanding the wrong kind of medicine. …

Prices are going up because crucial inputs—labor, electronics, energy, housing, transportation—are in short supply. Normally, the way to solve this imbalance would be to give workers and businesses incentives to increase their supply. …

The Fed has been assigned the job of fixing this. Unfortunately, the Fed doesn’t have the tools to do it. Monetary policy works (in theory) by tweaking demand, but it has no direct impact on supply.

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The Fed Protects Gamblers at the Expense of the Economy

Although the repo market is little known to most people, it is a $1-trillion-a-day credit machine, in which not just banks but hedge funds and other “shadow banks” borrow to finance their trades. Under the Federal Reserve Act, the central bank’s lending window is open only to licensed depository banks; but the Fed is now pouring billions of dollars into the repo (repurchase agreements) market, in effect making risk-free loans to speculators at less than 2%.

This does not serve the real economy, in which products, services and jobs are created. However, the Fed is trapped into this speculative monetary expansion to avoid a cascade of defaults of the sort it was facing with the long-term capital management crisis in 1998 and the Lehman crisis in 2008. The repo market is a fragile house of cards waiting for a strong wind to blow it down, propped up by misguided monetary policies that have forced central banks to underwrite its highly risky ventures. Continue reading