Monday, August 1, 2011

We Got A Credit Line Increase

The Country is Saved. We Won't Default. We Won't Need the EU to Bail US Out! Hooray!!!

As I noted in a Tweet, if the U.S. defaulted and ended up in Bankruptcy, who would be the Trustee, the guardian of creditors like China? Luxembourg???

The entire situation is ridiculous. But, it wasn't so far-fetched (a default). Everyone was buying gold and platinum and silver and... As posted here earlier "How Many Grams of Fat Are There In An Ounce of Gold?", the idea being that gold is only worth what someone will trade for it. Well, we will not have to worry about that anymore. The Congress, meaning the Democrats, Republicans, and Tea Partyists, in both the House of Representatives and in the Senate, and the President have come up with the master-plan to avoid not being able to borrow. The amount the United States can borrow will be increased.

Foolish as it appeared (because of all of the 2012 election campaigning and "holier than thou" Tea Party drinkers; I mean why have a Tea Party and drink coffee? But they did forget the crumpets!), there was exposed a huge problem with our financial system.

Some basics and answers to questions:

1. How could we run out of money to pay bills? Well, we already have. We have used the equivalent of an home equity loan to get money for all of our annual needs. The difference is that we "sell" Treasury Bonds. That is a nice way of stating that we will agree to pay "X"% interest if someone/country lends us money. Granted the amounts are larger than you would need for siding on your house, but the concept is identical. The "Treasury Bonds" that you hear/read about are nothing more than IOUs given to whoever buys the bond.

2. What is the Debt Ceiling and how high is it. It is $14.7 trillion; that is $14,700,000,000,000. It is the amount the Country is allowed to "borrow" from other countries and "all of us". It is a constitutional matter. The Congress has to agree on the amount and then get the President's approval for the MAXIMUM amount of our loans. Congress is acting like a Bank's Loan Committee deciding whether the Bank's Customer (the Country) can repay it's loan.

Were did all of the money go? No one knows for sure and no one, even the GAO (General Accounting Office) can trace it. But we know that we spent money on several wars (2 still on-going); we STOPPED a world-wide depression by enacting the "Stimulus" packages; our States, cities and towns had their tax revenue supplemented by some of that $14.7T for schools, bridges, roads, housing (especially for the elderly); the world wide stock and securities markets did not crash because we paid to offset losses -AIG, Lehman, Ford, Chrysler, GM et al.

IN REALITY, WE SPENT MORE THAN WE EARNED. Tax revenues were too low, the wars were/still are sooo expensive, and we have been spending like we could just print more money (oops, we can and did!)

3. What is the "Deficit" - over-simplified but not by much - just as in any household, or business, the deficit is the NEGATIVE difference between what we spend and what we earn. The trade deficit is a bit different - that is the NEGATIVE difference between what we sell to foreign countries and what we buy from them. For a long time we have bought more than we have sold. WE ARE A NATION OF CONSUMERS.

Coupled with our penchant for buying is the fact that our "DOLLAR" has been strong for a long time in comparison to other countries' money. Simpler - our dollar was based on a stronger economy; more output and capability of manufacturing, inventing, building more than nearly all other countries. We were perceived as having the ability to produce 10, 15, 20, 50% MORE IF WE WANTED TO, AT ANY TIME - like right after the start of WWII. Doesn't do much good if no one is buying!

4. Why did it take so long to set a new limit? POLITICS - RE-ELECTION in 2012. That simple? YES. That doesn't mean that some of the 535 people in Congress did not really believe that our "bill" to others will cause the ruination of the Country. It could, but most likely won't. As these things are measured, we have a bill that is 62% of our Annual GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT(GDP). That means that we OWE 2/3 of our county's TOTAL output of goods and services for a year.

Just think about paying 62% of your net/take home income for loans. That doesn't take into account food, utilities, cable, gasoline etc - all of the things that are monthly or annual expenses. For the Country, it's like only having 1/3 of the total amount the United States collects, for the payment of Medicaid, Food Stamps, Unemployment, Military pay, other government employees' pay, expenses for things like the Gulp/BP clean-up, and all other programs big and small.

Maybe now our elected officials can get back to business of running the Country - maybe they need a lesson in accounting - Remember Debits on the Left, Credits on the Right. Debits by the Window, Credits by the Door (from Accounting 101). OR we could buy 535 calculators and copies of Quicken

Author's Copyright by Richard I Isacoff, Esq, August 2011

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