Total US household debt soars to record above $13 trillion; could we Default

Add in the $20.5 trillion of Federal Government Debt and the combined debt of all States, Counties, and Municipalities of $3.098 Trillion, the total debt comes to over $37 Trillion.

“Since the day of Alexander Hamilton, the United States has never defaulted on the Federal debt.” The private debt is another issue and the defaults during the 2008 housing collapse and subsequent credit collapse should tell you something.

That’s what we budget-watchers always say. It’s a great talking point. One that helps bolster the argument that default should not be an option in Washington’s latest debt limit showdown.

There’s just one teensy problem: it isn’t exactly true. The United States defaulted on some Treasury bills in 1979 (ht: Jason Zweig). And it paid a steep price for stiffing bondholders.

States & Local Debt $1,184.0 State $1,914.6 Local $3,098.6 Total

Stock Market Panic and Volatility; what are the real reasons?

© H. Skip Robinson – February 7, 2018

The short answer is really pretty simple: the investors of the world know that “MANY” of the people, it’s companies and the various government jurisdictions of the United States of America are all up to their eyeballs in debt. The U.S.A. is the largest debtor nation in world history, yet few of the political, social or business leaders are seriously considering doing anything to lower the debt. Instead, everyone keeps spending like its 1925 or 2005.

So, why not just keep borrowing more and more money to pay our way out of the debt? Because we’ve been doing this for the last 20 years and it obviously hasn’t worked and the majority are worse off today for it?

We’re in so much debt that:

  1. The U.S. Dollar has lost around 13% of it value and that’s against other devaluating currencies on the Dollar Index (DXY) in just the last year. This is a major indicator of price inflation.
  2. China has publicly stated that it is not going to continue to buy any more U.S. Treasuries in the future and we do not truly know, as some suggest, if they are bluffing or not.
  3. Japan is already now the largest holder of U.S. Treasuries and is having to buy their own government securities as well. Japan has the largest Debt to GDP ratio (325%+/-) of any country in world history that has yet to go bankrupt. It’s theoretically insolvent.
  4. Nations such as the BRICS; Brazil, Russia, India, China and So. Africa are beginning to trade both oil and other goods and services outside the U.S. dominated central banking system with its clearinghouse at the Bank of International Settlement. This list is growing to include a number of Asian, Middle Eastern and even countries like Venezuela. The desire for holding U.S. dollar-denominated assets such as cash and Treasuries is waning throughout the world. These countries and the list is growing, don’t even want to trade in U.S. dollars anymore.
  5. S. productively, except for military hardware and other defense goods and services, has drastically declined over the last 20 years with over 4,500 factory closures in just the last 12 years.
  6. The U.S Federal Government is in debt over $20 trillion and this is expected to continue. Its unfunded liabilities are so high, we are having to guess the number with some estimates at close to 100.
  7. The U.S. “annual” Federal Government Budget is approx. $4 trillion and $1 trillion of that is expected to be borrowed this year as tax cuts and loss of revenue occur.
  8. The Federal Reserve Bank of the United States has now purchased $4.7 trillion worth of Government securities. (a combo of Mortgage Backed and Treasury).
  9. America’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is substantially based on a war economy, being both the largest producers of military goods and services as well as the largest exporter.
  10. The City of Detroit is having to by back $55 billion of its own debt, it issued as part of its bankruptcy proceeding, cutting into its reserves. Cities are not supposed to be able to go bankrupt but or legal system is having to make exceptions to this law.
  11. Many States, Counties, and Cities are also near insolvency with States like Illinois and New Jersey facing massive debts and loss of revenues.
  12. Puerto Rico, a U.S. Territory is insolvent economically and is physically in massive disrepair from a recent hurricane.
  13. Massive levels of student loans, auto loans, mortgages and credit cards debt are funding our societies continued demand for foreign goods. However, 100,000,000 million Americans are now living at or near the poverty line, making them poor consumers except for the very basic goods and services.
  14. The trade deficits are growing with just about every trading partner of the U.S. because we are consuming way more then we produce.
  15. Low paying service jobs now dominate the marketplace with productive jobs disappearing with all the factories.
  16. Many other social democracies around the world are suffering from the exact same problems the U.S. is having as if their leaders are mimicking the U.S. system. (bad idea?)
  17. Government controlled education is having a profound negative effect on our youth in both creativity and skills as standardized testing dominates the industry.
  18. Violence, theft, and incarcerations all continue to increase as especially the lower socio-economic classes are being pushed into financial insolvency.
  19. Even though those people now collecting unemployment compensation is below 5% according to the U.S. Government, Shadowstats, one of the more respected statisticians, including those having given up trying to find a job, is reporting total unemployment (U-6) at over 20%.
  20. Business, internet scams and criminal hacking such as identity theft even abound within the government databases with many private companies also reporting data theft.
  21. Law Enforcement is becoming more and more physically aggressive towards the general population trying to maintain law and order with increasing murders and other violent behaviors against innocent and unarmed civilians. As people become more and more belligerent towards authority, it is the police who are the ones on the front line in the clashes between overburdensome government policy and enforcement.
  22. Political corruption appears to now be the norm rather than the rarity. Everyone in the swamp appears to be investigating somebody else with our two-party system unraveling at the seams.
  23. Since the Great Recession, approximately 555 banks that are part of the FDIC, nationwide have failed.
  24. With over 110 different taxes and regulatory fees, most prices of products and services are at all time highs with consumers having to continue to borrow money to pay for the rising costs.
  25. I could keep going with the list, but these give you enough information for a bigger picture.

Now, the longer answer. We either need to drastically change our pollical ways by reducing spending and taxation or we are going to be forced to borrow more money. The question is from whom.  Our banks are loaded up. Other Countries like Japan and China are loaded up. All but the wealthy don’t have the money to contribute. Because of Treasuries now being such a poor investment, the wealthy appear to be willing to take the wild ride in the Stock Markets, instead. With U.S. Treasury yields rising, this means they are going down in value like the U.S. dollar has done over the last year.

It boils down to a supply-demand issue. We keep issuing more and more paper money in the form of Government debt and various loans and fewer and fewer investors, even governments want to invest in them because of their diminishing value. You wouldn’t invest in real estate if you thought it was going to go down in value, would you? When Treasury yields rise as they have been doing for over a year now, that means their price you can get for them if you want to sell them, is going down. Who is going to buy an asset when the price is going down, especially the debt of a government that already has $trillion in circulation. The fear is that more and more investors and governments are going to want to sell the Treasuries instead of buying them. If this happened in great enough amounts, it would cause another credit collapse like in 2008. Many people do not think the current international bond markets can withstand another 2008 type credit collapse because we now have well over twice the amount of debt we had then.

I haven’t even brought up the issue of financial derivatives yet because it is really contained in the banking and financial markets and it very complex for the average person to even understand. But if you read about them, it appears the same problems with excess supply and lack of demand are spooking the markets, just like rising Treasury yields are spooking the bond and stock markets.

To me, you do not get out of debt by borrowing more money. Believing that the monetary Gods are going to pull something out of their proverbial hat is why the stock market is so volatile and panic is starting to set in, knowing we really didn’t solve anything by adding on more debt back in 2008.