The federal deficit may soon cause a “collapse” of the dollar, Stanford University economics professor Scott S. Powell writes. In an opinion piece in The New York Post, Powell notes that the ratings agency Fitch just cut Portugals bond rating to AA negative — a clear sign that the insolvency crisis that began in Greece is far from over. “And dont think its merely a problem for the European Union. In fact, a debt-driven collapse of the dollar may be closer than most Americans realize,” he writes. Before the government bank bailouts, gross federal debt was 70 percent of gross domestic product GDP. “Its now estimated at about 90 percent of GDP. Add in the $1.6 trillion debt liability of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and were already at that 100 percent debt-to-GDP tipping point,” writes Powell. “No, the United States isnt Greece: For a host of reasons, we can probably get away with higher debt. But our problem is about to grow worse.”Right now, low interest rates make federal borrowing seem cheaper than it actually is — because those interest rates wont stay at zero forever.“And when rates head back to normal, Uncle Sams borrowing costs could easily double. We spend 11 percent of the current budget — $382 billion — on debt service; that could rise two- or three-fold to more than $800 billion, warns the CBO,” says Powell. Adding to the pressure on the dollar — inflation related to new job creation once the economy really starts to expand, reports CNNMoney.© Moneynews. All rights reserved.
Tag Archives: DEBT
A record drop in foreign holdings of U.S. Treasury bills in December sent a reminder that the government might have to pay higher interest rates on its debt to continue to attract investors.
China reduced its stake and lost the position it’s held for more than a year as the largest foreign holder of Treasury debt.
Japan retook the top spot as it boosted its Treasury holdings.
The Treasury Department said foreign holdings of U.S. Treasury bills fell by a record $53 billion in December. That topped the previous record drop of $44.5 billion in April 2009.
Private analysts, though, were split over the significance of the decline.
Some doubted that the drop in foreign holdings of short-term Treasuries signified growing unease about holding U.S. debt. They noted that net purchases of longer-term Treasury debt rose in December by $70 billion.
But other economists saw the decline as a warning signal.
They fear that foreigners, especially the Chinese, have begun to worry about record-high U.S. budget deficits and are looking to diversify their holdings.
A sustained drop in foreign demand for dollar-denominated assets could lead to higher U.S. interest rates and falling stock prices.
Those trends could threaten the U.S. recovery. But economists said they see no such evidence yet.
The Treasury report showed that China reduced its holdings of Treasury securities by $34.2 billion in December.
Alan Meltzer, an economics professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said China’s shift should be a wake-up call for Washington.