Home > Economy of the United States of America > Does America’s Credit Rating and Debt Ceiling Matter?

Does America’s Credit Rating and Debt Ceiling Matter?

Post link: http://debtcrisis.tk

Conspiracy Theories: The Death Dance of the Owl god-worshiping Bohemians

As has been repeated in the mass media over and over, Moody’s has said that it will consider downgrading the USA’s credit rating over the debt ceiling mess. Conspiracy theorists who share Alex Jones type political beliefs believe that ultimately that it’s all a staged show which is all about destroying the middle class (stereotyped by liberals as mainly being fundamentalist Christians) in order to reduce the world’s population and bring about a one world anti-Christian government, in which the Christians of America (which are all stereotyped by liberals as fundamentalist conservatives or fundamentalist republicans who believe the Bible to be 100% literal) will no longer have any great infuence and can no longer make homosexuals and other sexual perverts and sex-centered people feel bad for for their sexuality, and bringing about this destruction in a cruel but controlled way.

I don’t see things as being that simple though, because individuals with power often want more power and though they may make friends with similar wealth and status, they also lose those friends over jealousy, greed, coveting and careless words leading to arguments and arrogance towards one another. Also, even if a large amount of Republican and Democrat leaders were in secret trying to coordinate their efforts to destroy the middle class, the act of taking sides and getting feedback by votes, cheers and complaints can polarize them into trying to best the ones they are supposed to be working with. It’s like two people living in two different houses nearby agreeing to both have a party at their houses at the same time and letting outsiders know this to increase the odds of people coming over (because if they don’t like one house they can try the other) with the intent to take advantage of them all and share the profits equally between them. But during the party, one host gets greedy and also become jealous of the other, especially when he sees more women that he wants going over to and staying at the other host’s house, and thinks to himself, “I know I’m better than that guy, I’ll send over the guests I have and pay them to get all his guests over to my place, and then I can demand a greater share of the profit when we rob these people and make them our slaves. And so the jealous host does so, and the other hosts starts losing guests, and becomes jealous himself, and both lose site of robbing all their guests for a while, and pander to them and become addicted to their attention, trying to make it last as long as they can, especially as they see themselves nearing death. But then they both become bitter, feeling that their guests were unthankful as they go off to younger party-throwers and hosts having, or promising to have better parties. And in their bitterness decide to go back to their old ways of trying to rob, enslave or destroy the people whose love they gained and of those who left them or ignore them. I think that that is basically the evil dance that America’s bad political and religious leaders dance. If you read that carefully, I’m not saying that there is a very well organized conspiracy to destroy the middle class and the Christians. If it was so organized then they would have had success decades ago, maybe just a few decades after America became independant from Britain. But as I said, jealousies get in the way. It’s also not just that, but many leaders love their wives and children, and want them to be happy in the way these leaders understand happiness, and probably don’t want to be monsters in their eyes but to be loved by them. But as the world gets morally worse, and it is, so will these leaders and their families, so that even the natural love between families will do little to delay their intent on subduing the world to their whims and to the whims of the one they call “master”.

Media’s Debt Ceiling Hysteria Ignores How Bonds, Budgets and Taxes Work
By Noel Sheppard

If you believe every word uttered by hysterical news anchors and political commentators lately, you would think the world ends August 2nd if the debt ceiling isn’t raised.

Not only isn’t this true, it’s another indication of the press’s total ignorance about our nation’s budget and/or their willingness to lie to the American people in order to get taxes raised.

Let’s start our truth dig by looking at the monthly debt payments so far this fiscal year:

Interest Expense Fiscal Year 2011
May $30,858,726,707.77
April $28,895,123,159.28
March $24,460,282,823.69
February $21,759,253,957.26
January $21,122,729,715.18
December $104,700,174,845.03
November $19,396,316,137.56
October $24,142,491,931.22
Fiscal Year Total $275,335,099,276.99

As you can see, since October, we’ve made interest payments of $275 billion.

Some press members have suggested that us just making interest payments is some bizarre sleight of hand, but in reality, with the exception of treasuries that are either maturing or being called, interest is by far the greatest monthly expense associated with our debt.

All we have to do is make those interest payments, and our debt remains in good standing.

To give us a better understanding of what this really costs, here are some of the total interest outlays for previous years:

2010 $413,954,825,362.17
2009 $383,071,060,815.42
2008 $451,154,049,950.63
2007 $429,977,998,108.20
2006 $405,872,109,315.83
2005 $352,350,252,507.90
2004 $321,566,323,971.29
2003 $318,148,529,151.51
2002 $332,536,958,599.42
2001 $359,507,635,242.41
2000 $361,997,734,302.36

As interest rates haven’t risen this year, we should likely expect our total interest expenses to be close to last year’s $414 billion.

Let’s now look at our monthly tax receipts (in hundreds of thousands):

FY 2011
October…………………………………………………………. 145,951
November……………………………………………………… 148,970
December……………………………………………………… 236,875
January…………………………………………………………. 226,550
February ……………………………………………………….. 110,656
March …………………………………………………………… 150,894
April ……………………………………………………………… 289,543
May………………………………………………………………. 174,911
Year-to-Date ……………………………………………….. 1,484,350

Notice how each and every month the amount of taxes we collect far exceeds our interest expense? – more here with charts and graphs

Why Raising The Debt Ceiling And Default Is All Theatrical Nonsense
by Judy Aron

From Zerohedge:

the threat that if a deal is not reached to increase the debt by August 2nd, social security checks may not go out. In reality, the Chief Actuary of Social Security confirmed last week that current Social Security tax receipts are more than enough to cover current outlays. The only reason those checks would not go out would be if the administration decided to spend those designated funds elsewhere.

Please read a short history of credit defaults….

In this event, it is unlikely a default will occur. Historically, governments prioritize debt service above all other expenses. If the expansion of funds via debt becomes impossible, the Treasury will cease paying other expenses first, starting with “nonessential” discretionary expenditures, and then move on to mandatory expenditures and entitlements as a last resort.

In extremis, what will happen is that all the losses will be foisted onto the Federal Reserve. The Fed holds something on the order of $1.6 trillion in debt issued by the Treasury of the United States. By having the Federal Reserve purchase blocks of Treasury debt and defaulting on these non-investor-held securities, the United States can postpone a default against real investors essentially forever.

The sky is NOT falling!
Senior Citizens will still get their pension/social security checks.

This is another government manufactured crisis whereby the White House wants to have permission from Congress to spend more and tax you even more!

If the Republicans in the Congress agree to raising the debt limit then you will know there is absolutely NO difference between either party.

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. – Sen Barack Obama, 2006

more here

The Debt Ceiling Really Doesn’t Matter
by mbecker908
5/1/2011/1:28 P.M. EDT

We’ve had a whole lot of talk about raising the debt ceiling in the last few months and the conversation, frankly, is mostly just hot air. The US is most likely headed for a financial wall at high speed without regard to action on the debt ceiling and that howling that if we don’t raise the ceiling we’ll damage the “full faith and credit” of the US government is laughable. It’s happening right now and is about to accelerate like the space shuttle leaving it’s launch pad.

Here’s a simple explanation of why we’re about to go into the “face meets wall mode”.

First let’s look at how we finance the US government. The financing mechanism for Uncle Sam is made up of a number of cash in-flows:

Federal income taxes.

Tariffs and fees.

Borrowing through the use of US Treasury bond auctions.

Tariffs and fees account for a miniscule portion of the revenue, taxes are the major revenue producer and the debt auctions have to make up the difference between “income” (taxes, tariffs & fees) and “expenditures”, the total of on and off-budget spending by the Administration and Congress. With me so far?

I’m going to assume that our readers understand the tax revenue stream so I’m not commenting on that here. If you have questions, post them in the comments and they can be answered individually. Tariffs and fees fall into the same category and are a generally small portion of overall revenue.

Which brings us to the Treasury auctions. The US auctions off Treasury bonds on a regular basis. Very generally, the auctions work like this:

The Treasury schedules an auction and announces it will be selling $X billions of dollars of bonds at Y% yield.

Buyers purchase said bond offerings.

Buyers include: other countries (China, etc), private bond investment houses.

Here’s where it starts to get hinky. Let’s say the Treasury is offering $100B in bonds at a 3% yield. The auction produces $65B in purchases at that offering. The Treasury now has two options, they can take the $65B and not sell the other $35B or they can raise the yield above 3%. The conundrum is this. If they don’t sell the $35B they have, in effect, lowered the debt ceiling and will not be able to meet the cash expectations of the appropriators effectively cutting the budget by that $35B. They also send a loud message to bond holders/traders that demand is down, and think about the basic law of supply and demand here. When demand is down for automobiles, the cost of the car will go down to bleed off supply overages. When demand is down for financial instruments, the yield of those instruments must go up in order to increase demand.

Bottom line, can’t sell the bonds this time, the next time that 3% will 4% or higher. That raises the interest cost line in the federal budget and makes it necessary to either get more money (borrow more) or reduce spending in other places by a comparable amount. See the spiral effect?

Lately, the Treasury is having problems finding buyers for their bonds so the federal reserve has undertaken a program of buying up the left overs in order to keep the yield low. Let’s see now, where does the federal reserve get money since they can’t tax or charge tarriffs or fees. Oh yeah, they print it. The net effect is that there have been significant shortfalls in bond sales to third party buyers and the US government is buying up the debt, in effect lending money to themselves. Think Ponzi.

OK, so you’ve got the basics now and you see that the federal government is buying it’s own debt to finance operations. Here’s the problem. Come June the federal reserve is planning on stopping the printing press. They’ve said that they’re going to get out of the bond buying business. Well hey, there’s always the Chinese and the private bond traders, right? Jim Lacey at National Review lays out the ugly scenario in detail, please read the whole article, he’s much better at this than I am.

Researchers at [a major bond investment house] estimate that in the last quarter, the Fed purchased 70 percent of all new Treasury debt. This is a disaster in the making. By printing new money to buy debt, the Fed is both holding interest rates artificially low and flooding the world with dollars. Fed purchases have lowered rates to the point where there was no room for further decreases. With no more upside potential to holding debt, investors are fleeing on the assumption that the Fed will soon exit the market, causing rates to rise dramatically. Such a rate rise lowers the value of all current U.S. debt…

Lacey notes that pretty much all of the major investment houses have stopped or dramatically curtailed US Treasury purchases and many are dumping their current inventory of Ts on the expectation that new auction yields will jump dramatically. Other major holders are also dumping inventory, namely the Chinese.

So what’s on the horizon? If you’ve got a weak stomach, stop here.

Come June, the Fed will be in a bind of its own making. If it stops pumping money into the system, interest rates will increase, and not just on Treasury bonds. Mortgage rates will rise and business credit will become more costly. The recovery could be strangled in its infancy. If it keeps on buying bonds, however, it risks never being able to wean the markets off the equivalent of monetary crack. Worse, the flood of dollars will continue to drive down the value of the dollar, raise commodity prices, and propel global inflation.

There pretty much is NO upside here. Rates go up and or inflation takes off. Mr. Obama you need to bring Jimmy Carter back from North Korea and add him to your stable of economic advisors who’ve never held real jobs. – more here

Does Moody’s’ Matter?: Rating Moody’s’ Trustworthiness

Concerning America’s credit rating mattering or not, we should first check the rating of the one doing the credit rating, or rather make one, first, on whether or not that rater is trustworthy as a judge of someone’s financial trustworthiness and financial health and power or not. It seems that Moody’s has been rating based sometimes on mood-swings rather than the truth. And that matters, because one should not judge by feelings alone, but also with the truth, and the truth always trumps feelings. The credi ratings od Moody’s does matter, because there is a large amount of people with money to invest or invested who think that it does, even if Moody’s doesn’t deserve their faith. It’s the same with U.S. dollars: so long as many people with wealth all over the world believe it has good value, then it does, but when a large amount of them consider it trash and treat it like it is, then it will lose value. The same with the debt-ceiling: if many people with wealth around the world think it matters, then it does, especially the ones among them who have money invested in America or who are thinking about it: if they believe it matters, then it does. I’m not saying that belief’s change reality, whic is contrary to logic and religion, but that belief’s affect and determine behavior (and all of that is apart of reality, and there is only one reality, despite what confused some liberals, New Agers, and ignorant Buddhists believe).

Moody’s is a credit-rating organization, at least in part in which many wealthy people put their trust and which many who are not wealthy look to for financial information on nations and corporations. And so whichever country or corporation they label as have a good credit rating or bad will likely have a great economic effect on the one they rate. But, be willing to see if Moody’s should have a good or bad rating when it comes to trust concerning good and bad credit in the first place. Here are article intros from the Washington Post about alleged criminal activity from Moody’s which sounds like a protection racket:

Smoothing the Way for Debt Markets
Firms’ Influence Has Grown Along With World’s Reliance on BondsBy Alec Klein, Washington Post Staff Writer

The credit-rating business was the creation of a young man who got his start at a Wall Street bank in 1890 as an errand boy for $20 a month. …

In 1909, Moody started mining. He published a book about railroad securities, using letter grades to assess their risk. Investors looking for more certainty liked the idea, and the Moody business took off. So did Poor’s Publishing Co., which began rating corporate debt in 1916, according to its successor company, Standard & Poor’s. Standard Statistics Co. followed suit in 1922. Fitch entered the rating business in 1924.

In the ensuing decades, corporate America has increasingly turned to credit raters to smooth the way for its loans. As recently as the 1980s, companies did about half of their borrowing from banks. Now, the vast majority comes from the debt markets, which offer lower rates. …

By most measures, the influence of the rating companies has continued to grow along with the size of the market for bonds and other debt, which is about $52 trillion worldwide. In the United States alone, about $21 trillion in debt was in the market in 2003 — about 50 percent more than the value of all shares of stock being traded in the U.S. markets — and almost none of that money could flow without a rating.

Today, as many as 150 credit rating agencies operate worldwide. But effectively, only two — possibly three — matter. – full article

Moody’s Board Members Have Ties to Clients
Firm Says Such Links Have No Impact on RatingsBy Alec Klein, Washington Post Staff Writer

A slew of corporate scandals in recent years has prompted hundreds of companies to eliminate the appearance of conflicts of interest on their boards of directors. A notable exception: Moody’s Corp.

Most of its board members serve as directors of companies it rates. The higher the rating, the cheaper it is for these companies to borrow money by issuing bonds.

Core Principles

Moody’s Investors Service published in January 2003 a list of core principles designed to “protect the integrity, objectivity and timeliness” of the ratings process. Excerpts:
• “A Moody’s rating is not the view of any one individual person, but rather the product of a rating committee that has taken a decision based on the consensus of its majority.”
• “Free exchange of opinions will be encouraged and fostered …”
• “Rating decisions should be consistent with” the company’s rating policies and methodologies.
• Analysts who have a conflict of interest such as ownership of stock in a client firm “must be excluded” from a rating decision.
• “If non-public information is provided to a Moody’s analyst by the issuer [of bonds], Moody’s will not make the information itself public …”

One case that illustrates the potential conflict involves Clifford L. Alexander Jr., former chairman of Moody’s, parent of Moody’s Investors Service, its rating division. He spent 19 years on the board of MCI Communications Corp., staying as a director through the long-distance company’s growth and absorption by WorldCom Inc.

Alexander resigned from WorldCom’s board in December 2001, about six months before it went bankrupt. Moody’s had long maintained a solid investment-grade rating on WorldCom, which has since reverted to its old name, MCI. Even while bond traders were selling WorldCom at “junk” levels, an indication of financial trouble, Moody’s continued to give the telephone giant a high rating about four months after Alexander’s departure.

Moody’s cut the telephone company to junk status that May. About a month later, WorldCom fired its chief financial officer after discovering nearly $4 billion in improper accounting. WorldCom subsequently filed the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, and stock and bond investors lost several billion dollars.

In 1999, Alexander exercised stock options in the company worth more than $1.7 million, according to public records. At the same time, he sold shares worth nearly $692,000. Alexander said he also lost $460,000 in WorldCom investments last year. In October 2003, Alexander retired from Moody’s. – full article
When Interests Collide
Credit Raters Subject To Client Pressure
By Alec Klein, Washington Post Staff Writer

When Allied Signal Inc., the big aerospace company, acquired rival Grimes Aerospace in 1997, it seemed like a simple thing. But then there was the question of how to deal with the rating companies.

Allied sought to pay off $125 million in Grimes debt, which was held in unrated bonds because Grimes was privately held. Investors were willing to sell their bonds to Allied to retire the debt, but they wanted the major rating companies to grade the securities to help set the right price.

A rating likely would have raised the bonds’ value, increasing Allied’s cost to buy them. So an Allied official called one of the rating companies, warning it not to rate the debt, according to Edwin P. Dean, a bond analyst representing some of the investors. Dean said he got the story directly from the rating official whom Allied called. Allied said it “would be very unhappy if that agency rated Grimes,” Dean recalled in an Aug. 17, 1998, letter to another rating firm he was considering hiring.

Dean, of the investment firm First Albany Cos., wrote that the rating company told him it feared losing the fees that it charged Allied, whose debt it already rated; as a result, it backed off from rating Grimes.

“That rating agency said candidly that Allied was a source of rating income and they would not jeopardize the relationship,” he said in his letter, which The Washington Post obtained from another source. In a recent interview, Dean said he had approached Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings to get the bonds rated. “What the rating agencies were saying was, ‘I’m not going to [tick] this guy [Allied] off,’ ” Dean recalled. They told him, “Allied was a good customer.” – full article

Gatekeepers: Flexing Business Muscle
Credit Raters’ Power Leads to Abuses, Some Borrowers SayBy Alec Klein, Washington Post Staff Writer

The letter was entirely polite and businesslike, but something about it chilled Wilhelm Zeller, chairman of one of the world’s largest insurance companies.

Moody’s Investors Service wanted to inform Zeller’s firm — the giant German insurer Hannover Re — that it had decided to rate its financial health at no charge. But the letter went on to suggest that Moody’s looked forward to the day Hannover would be willing to pay.

In the margin of the letter, Zeller scribbled an urgent note to his finance chief: “Hier besteht Handlungsbedarf.” …

Hannover, which was already writing six-figure checks annually to two other rating companies, told Moody’s it didn’t see the value in paying for another rating.

Moody’s began evaluating Hannover anyway, giving it weaker marks over successive years and publishing the results while seeking Hannover’s business. Still, the insurer refused to pay. Then last year, even as other credit raters continued to give Hannover a clean bill of health, Moody’s cut Hannover’s debt to junk status. Shareholders worldwide, alarmed by the downgrade, dumped the insurer’s stock, lowering its market value by about $175 million within hours.

What happened to Hannover begins to explain why many corporations, municipalities and foreign governments have grown wary of the big three credit-rating companies — Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings — as they have expanded into global powers without formal oversight.

The rating companies are free to set their own rules and practices, which sometimes leads to abuse, according to many people inside and outside the industry. At times, credit raters have gone to great lengths to convince a corporation that it needs their ratings — even rating it against its wishes, as in the Hannover case. In other cases, the credit raters have strong-armed clients by threatening to withdraw their ratings — a move that can raise a borrower’s interest payments.

And one of the firms, Moody’s, sometimes has used its leverage to ratchet up its fees without negotiating with clients. That’s what Compuware Corp., a Detroit-based business software maker, said happened at the end of 1999.

Compuware, borrowing about $500 million, had followed custom by seeking two ratings. Standard & Poor’s charged an initial $90,000, plus an annual $25,000 fee, said Laura Fournier, Compuware’s chief financial officer. Moody’s billed $225,000 for an initial assessment, but didn’t tack on an annual fee.

Less than a year later, Moody’s notified Compuware of a new annual fee — $5,000, which would triple if the company didn’t issue another security during the year to create another Moody’s payment. Fournier said Moody’s didn’t do anything extra to earn the fee. But the company paid it anyway — $5,000 in 2001; $15,000 a year later. – full article

Gatekeepers: Shaping Nations’ Wealth
Credit Raters Exert International InfluenceBy Alec Klein, Washington Post Staff Writer

Canada’s finance minister was fuming.

On the 21st floor of the government complex in Ottawa, Paul Martin glared at his aides and demanded: “Who the hell are they to pass judgment on us?”

The target of Martin’s anger: Moody’s Investors Service, which had just made an announcement that stunned the financial markets. Moody’s, one of the world’s major credit-rating companies, had placed Canada’s debt “on review for a possible downgrade” — a signal that it was concerned about the country’s finances.

News spun around the world. Almost instantly, the Canadian dollar dropped by about a half-cent against the U.S. dollar. The central bank didn’t announce it, but behind the scenes it scrambled to stop the slide by buying back several hundred million dollars of its money. Investors dumped Canada’s bonds and drove their interest rates higher, which would cost the government hundreds of millions of dollars.

The warning by Moody’s in late February 1995 — not even the downgrade itself, which came later — was enough to roil financial markets and send a major sovereign nation scurrying to restore order. – full article

Why credit ratings matter

In a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce of Trade, Trade and Industry Minister Stephen Cadiz delivered some good news to the business people who had gathered to attend the private sector organisation’s annual general meeting. Minister Cadiz said that Moody’s Investors Services, in its annual rating of this country’s creditworthiness, had stated that T&T Baa1 government bond ratings were “supported by relatively high levels of economic development, a very strong external position, still-low government debt levels, and a solid institutional framework.” Mr Cadiz’s announcement came on the same day that Moody’s Investors Service dealt a severe blow to the myth of the Celtic Tiger when it downgraded Ireland’s government bond ratings to junk. Moody’s cut Ireland’s ratings by one notch from Baa3 to Ba1 because it sees a growing risk the debt-ridden country will need a second bailout once its current rescue package expires at the end of 2013, wire service reports stated yesterday. The decision by Moody’s to downgrade Ireland’s bond ratings to junk came one week after the credit rating agency applied the same medicine to Portugal when it slashed the southern European country’s credit rating by four levels from Baa1 to Ba2. The reason given by the rating agency for Portugal’s downgrade to junk status was the “growing risk that Portugal will require a second round of official financing before it can return to the private market.”

On June 14, Moody’s “junked” Greece when it reduced its rating by four notches to Ba1. The credit ratings of countries are very important and it is crucial that this population understands that there are serious consequences when governments adopt measures which lead to the citizens of the country living beyond its means. The main consequence of a rating downgrade is that it almost always equates to an increase in the interest rates charged on government debt. In turn, this means that borrowing on the international capital market becomes more expensive. – full article

Introducing The Weiss Sovereign Debt Ratings
by Martin D. Weiss, Gavin Magor and Melissa Gannon

Weiss Ratings is an independent rating agency, covering 19,000 U.S. banks, credit unions and insurance companies, with the primary mission of protecting consumers and investors from financial risks without bias or conflicts of interest.

Thanks largely to this objectivity, we have provided timely warnings to consumers and investors of future financial difficulties, while the value of our research has been recognized by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the financial media.

On several occasions, our ratings have helped fill a void created by inherent biases in the opinions of credit rating agencies. For example, in the early 1990s, Weiss identified severe weaknesses among large life and health insurers that were given stellar ratings by the leading rating agencies but subsequently failed. Similarly, prior to the debt crisis of 2008-2009, our ratings warned of severe weaknesses among major banks that received top grades from other agencies, but later failed or required a federal bailout. At the same time, our top grades have also accurately identified the truly strong companies with the resources to survive the most adverse economic conditions. 1

Today, we see a similar void in the realm of sovereign nations, along with an urgent need to unambiguously warn the public of growing risks. Therefore, we are initiating coverage of sovereign debts.

With this report, we are releasing our ratings on 47 nations, while focusing our commentary primarily on our ratings model and issues concerning the rating of the United States government. We will provide further commentary on the ratings of other nations in subsequent reports.

Weiss Ratings Has Initiated Coverage on the U.S.
and other Sovereign Nations for Seven Key Reasons
We believe that:

1. The AAA/Aaa assigned to U.S. sovereign debt by S&P, Moody’s and Fitch is fundamentally unfair to investors in U.S. government securities. It fails to warn of real dangers, and it helps create market conditions in which they are severely undercompensated for the real risks they are taking. Investors urgently need an alternative reference point.

2. The AAA/Aaa U.S. debt rating is also unfair to savers and investors who rely on interest income to help meet their daily living expenses or finance their retirement. Since nearly all U.S. interest rates — including rates on bank CDs, annuities and other instruments — are tied to U.S. Treasury yields, these savers and investors are also being underpaid.

3. Recent commentary issued by the leading credit rating agencies regarding the future of their AAA/Aaa rating of U.S. sovereign debt is ambiguous and unclear. As long as they continue to reaffirm the AAA/Aaa, any warnings they might issue are inadequate to protect investors.2

4. The AAA/Aaa U.S. debt rating is unfair to other sovereign nations that receive inferior ratings despite superior fiscal circumstances. Many have made the national sacrifices — and/or achieved the economic successes — which demonstrate a higher capacity to service and repay their debts. Yet, due to their relatively lower grades from the leading U.S. ratings agencies, they are often punished for their accomplishments by a marketplace that demands higher interest rates. For this reason as well, an objective alternative is long overdue.

5. The AAA/Aaa U.S. debt rating has continually fostered political resistance and gridlock in Washington. If an appropriate rating had been issued years ago, it could have played a pivotal role in helping lawmakers and policymakers take earlier remedial steps. However, looking forward, there is no better time than now to confront the nation’s financial challenges with honesty.

6. The AAA/Aaa U.S. debt rating has also helped create an environment of chronic public complacency. Many institutional and individual investors, who, in other circumstances, might demand greater fiscal discipline, have been largely content to accept the U.S. government’s fiscal decline. At the same time, efforts to educate voters about the importance of more prudent fiscal policies have typically fallen on deaf ears. Today more than ever, an honest and fair rating for U.S. government debt is urgently needed to help provide public support for the political compromises and collective sacrifices the U.S. must make in order to restore its finances.

7. Fair, honest and transparent ratings can also help prod governments of other countries to take needed remedial steps to improve their finances. Japan, for example, which has the largest public debt per GDP among all industrialized nations, shares with the United States and Europe a responsibility to provide better fiscal leadership globally. – More here

Taxpayers being played the fool by debt ceiling political farce and bank strong arm tactics
By Mata Harley

As the fury and venom flies over the debt ceiling, and now the GOP attempt to shove a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment thru as the price for their votes, it’s easy to see how the public is manipulated into mutual disdain and vicious ideological and class warfare by media and politicians. Dare I suggest that we – taxpayers of all political stripes and beliefs, no matter how far apart – are being played the fools big time? This should be abundantly clear by one simple and unavoidable fact… there is overwhelming bipartisan unity that if the debt ceiling is not raised, the US faces fiscal Armageddon.

If that’s the case, exactly what are the parties arguing? Because neither one is making a genuine case, or dent, for the reduction of spending, genuine entitlement reform, or increased revenue thru tax increase or a more capitalist/entrepreneurial friendly policy.

The fear mongering of Fed Chair, Bernanke, as well as Treasury Sec’y Geither and the WH are simply passing on the strong arm tactics of the nation’s largest financial institutions and their bankers.

“Any delay in making an interest or principal payment by Treasury even for a very short period of time would put the US Treasury and overall financial markets in uncharted territory and could trigger another catastrophic financial crisis,” said Matthew Zames, a JPMorgan executive, in a letter to Tim Geithner, the Treasury secretary, this week.

Mr Zames was writing as chairman of the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, which includes some of the largest investors in US

You can read Zames’ letter to Geithner here, as reprinted in the NYTs last April.

Not banking on letters and media as the only devices to fight the good fight of a higher US credit limit, bank exec lobbyists and Wall Street executives have been meeting privately with the political elite for some time now, looking for assurances that no matter what the political posturing done, or whatever concessions are agreed upon, the debt ceiling will be raised for the negotiated price paid.

This lobbying, Whining… er… Wining and Dining includes a hefty amount of the 20 banks that could bring the US economy to it’s knees, in the event of a default.

Simply put, the omnipotent authorities of banks and investors are whispering threats of doom and gloom into the collective ears of the WH, Congress and the US Treasury that unless the nation’s credit card threshold is increased, interest rates will rise on T-notes, the fed’s credibility in the bond market will be shot and there would be a fire sale on US bonds, banks will fail, short term lending will disappear or become unaffordable, and the nation will spiral into a depression…

… that’s assuming there’s someone left that doesn’t think we’re not already spiraling around the toilet bowl flush to depression already.

And when the big banks whisper sweet nothings, the Congress listens.

The Economist put it in the simplest of stark language..

Indeed, the whole reason people are scared of hitting the debt ceiling is anxiety that bond markets will punish the government if it happens. That’s the hostage tea-party Republicans are holding: the credit rating of the US government.

Regardless of whether the payments of the existing revenue stream are wisely plied to the proper payments in the event of a default, a nation’s credit rating is not only dependent upon obtaining their credit via their debt ceiling, but also on that nation’s ability to repay that debt based on their spending trends. This seems to be a little ditty of data that the gung ho pro-increase types seem to ignore.

As even Moody’s recent warning about the US’s credit rating evaluations point out, raising the debt ceiling is one issue… under the assumption that nation *would* actually default. (not a given…). But they are also quick to note that “the rating outlook will depend on the outcome of negotiations on deficit reduction.”

Translation? Increasing the credit card limit doesn’t always make for a good credit rating, if you don’t demonstrate discipline in reining in your spending habits. At some point, a nation’s income to debt ratio looms large, ugly and fatal. – More here

US raised debt ceiling 102 times [says] economist (Tremblay)
By RussToday/rt.com

President Obama has warned the US is running out of time to deal with its financial troubles.

President Obama has warned the US is running out of time to deal with its financial troubles – the Congress must raise the current $14.3-trillion debt ceiling again. And as Professor Rodrigue Tremblay told RT, this has become a tradition in the US.

“­The US repeatedly gets away with raising the debt ceiling,” Rodrigue Tremblay told RT. “This system that the US has, has been in place since 1917. They raise the debt ceiling each year, they have done it 102 times; eight times under George W. Bush alone. Most countries do not run their governments this way. In the US it is always a mess,” stated Tremblay.

The professor of economics at the University of Montreal says the US is actually the country with the highest debt, and not Greece. But Washington will never be in line for a bailout, he adds.

“The US is not in the same position as other countries because their currency is used internationally and therefore they can afford to print more dollars than the Euro or any other currency can,” said Tremblay. “The main problem in the US is that there seems to be no one in charge in Washington. President Obama is a lame duck president and does not control the government; and the Republicans control most of the Congress.”

Many Republicans are unhappy with Obama’s plan to reduce the budget deficit. But despite that the debt ceiling will be raised no matter what, Tremblay believes.

“President Obama has a tradition of giving in to the demands of the Republicans. He did it twice before, so the Republicans are expecting him to do the same again. I do not doubt for a moment there will not be a default in America,” Tremblay told RT.

He also pointed out the Republicans are very keen to oppose President Obama and his Democrats on this matter even though the situation might seem too serious for these party political games.

“There are 16 new members of the Republican party in the House of Representatives, and these are tea-baggers, members of the Tea Party. They are not really Republicans, they are outcasts. They do not want to have any tax increase whatsoever, instead they vote for wars,” concluded Tremblay. – Source (video is with the aritcle)

Galbraith: The danger posed by the deficit ‘is zero’
By Ezra Klein (EK), Washington Post
5/12/2010/3:50 P.M. ET

James Galbraith is an economist and the Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. chair in government and business relations at the University of Texas at Austin. He’s also a skeptic of the prevailing concern over America’s long-term deficit. With many people now comparing America’s fiscal condition to Greece, I spoke with Galbraith to get the other side of the argument. An edited transcript of our conversation follows.

EK: You think the danger posed by the long-term deficit is overstated by most economists and economic commentators.

JG: No, I think the danger is zero. It’s not overstated. It’s completely misstated.

EK: Why?

JG: What is the nature of the danger? The only possible answer is that this larger deficit would cause a rise in the interest rate. Well, if the markets thought that was a serious risk, the rate on 20-year treasury bonds wouldn’t be 4 percent and change now. If the markets thought that the interest rate would be forced up by funding difficulties 10 year from now, it would show up in the 20-year rate. That rate has actually been coming down in the wake of the European crisis.

So there are two possibilities here. One is the theory is wrong. The other is that the market isn’t rational. And if the market isn’t rational, there’s no point in designing policy to accommodate the markets because you can’t accommodate an irrational entity.

EK: Then why are the bulk of your colleagues so worried about this?

JG: Let’s push a bit deeper on the CBO forecasts. They publish a baseline set of projections. One of those projections holds the economy will return to a normal high-employment level with low inflation over the next 10 years. If true, that would be wonderful news. Go down a few lines and they also have the short-term interest rate going up to 5 percent. It’s that short-term interest rate combined with that low inflation rate that allows them to generate, quite mechanically, these enormous future deficit forecasts. And those forecasts are driven partially by the assumption that health-care costs will rise forever at a faster rate than everything else and by interest payments on the debt will hit 20 or 25 percent of GDP.

At this point, the whole thing is completely incoherent. You cannot write checks to 20 percent to anybody without that money entering the economy and increasing employment and inflation. And if it does that, then debt-to-GDP has to be lower, because inflation figures into how much debt we have. These numbers need to come together in a coherent story, and the CBO’s forecast does not give us a coherent story. So everything that is said that is based on the CBO’s baseline is, strictly speaking, nonsense. – full interview here

Does the National Debt Even Matter?

National debt doesn’t matter
By Mike Lado, Staff writer on Feb 08, 2011 08:37:42

My last two columns were all about financial thriftiness and bashing communists, so it’s time to do a complete 180-degree turn to the left. I am writing to explain why we should increase spending rather than decrease it.

Yes, I am well aware the national debt is $14 trillion. You may also argue the stimulus failed, too, which is another reason you think we must drastically cut spending.

Contrary to what you may think, the stimulus failed because it was not big enough. You may be screaming, “Our national debt almost equals our GDP!” Well, I say, shush!

The reason why we have to keep spending is based on the Keynesian laws of economics. These laws state that the private sector sometimes screws up. – more here

U.S. Debt the Illegitimate Child Of The Mother Of All Bubbles
Economics / US Debt Sep 24, 2010 – 02:14 AM

By: James_Quinn


Diamond Rated – Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleThere is no doubt the home price bubble inflated by Easy Al Greenspan between 2000 and 2006 was the Mother of All Bubbles. Robert Shiller clearly showed that home prices were two standard deviations above expectations. Despite the unequivocal facts that Dr. Shiller put forth, millions of delusional unsuspecting dupes bought houses at the top of the market. These were the greater fools. They actually believed the drivel being spewed forth by the knuckleheaded anchors on CNBC. They actually believed the propaganda being preached by David Lereah from the National Association of Realtors (Always the Best Time to Buy) about home prices never dropping. They actually believed Bennie Bernanke when he said:

“We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis. So, what I think what is more likely is that house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it’s gonna drive the economy too far from its full employment path, though.” – 7/1/2005

“Housing markets are cooling a bit. Our expectation is that the decline in activity or the slowing in activity will be moderate, that house prices will probably continue to rise.” – 2/15/2006

Bennie actually made these statements when the chart below showed home prices at their absolute peak. You should keep this in mind whenever this rocket scientist opens his mouth about anything. And always remember that he is a self proclaimed “expert” on the Great Depression. That should come in handy in the next few years, just like his brilliant analysis of the strong housing market.

U.S. Debt the Illegitimate Child Of The Mother Of All Bubbles
7/24/2010/2:14 AM
By James_Quinn

Diamond Rated – Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleThere is no doubt the home price bubble inflated by Easy Al Greenspan between 2000 and 2006 was the Mother of All Bubbles. Robert Shiller clearly showed that home prices were two standard deviations above expectations. Despite the unequivocal facts that Dr. Shiller put forth, millions of delusional unsuspecting dupes bought houses at the top of the market. These were the greater fools. They actually believed the drivel being spewed forth by the knuckleheaded anchors on CNBC. They actually believed the propaganda being preached by David Lereah from the National Association of Realtors (Always the Best Time to Buy) about home prices never dropping. They actually believed Bennie Bernanke when he said:

“We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis. So, what I think what is more likely is that house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it’s gonna drive the economy too far from its full employment path, though.” – 7/1/2005

“Housing markets are cooling a bit. Our expectation is that the decline in activity or the slowing in activity will be moderate, that house prices will probably continue to rise.” – 2/15/2006

Bennie actually made these statements when the chart below showed home prices at their absolute peak. You should keep this in mind whenever this rocket scientist opens his mouth about anything. And always remember that he is a self proclaimed “expert” on the Great Depression. That should come in handy in the next few years, just like his brilliant analysis of the strong housing market. – more here with charts and graphs

My Teaching
By Daniel Knight
Some say it doesn’t, because it’s mostly government debt, not owed by the citizens. However the government funds itself from taxes from the citizens (and in part pillaging other countries of their resources and turning them into virtual or literal slaves). The government does this through major corporations, and vice versa: they help each other out in return for favors. The governments of America use the drug war as a way of confiscating the money and property of their citizens, and they also obtain land in the name of conserving it or because it’s in the way of “progress”. Whether or not the governments of America really believe the increasing debt is an imminent threat to them or not, there are liberals among them who would like to use it as a tool to oppress Christians or force them into becoming liberals, and to reduce the world’s population and to increase their own wealth and popularity. The fear of becoming impoverished will also provoke employers and rich people seeking maid and garden service into hiring more cheap help from illegal immigrants, and that will take more jobs away from American citizens and increase crime. Mexicans and Americans know that there is a desire for cheap labor in America, and will continue to, for money, get any Mexican past the border, including criminal ones. And if the ones doing the transporting are criminal (rather than simply trying to help people out and live well), they will probably care even less if they are transporting criminals. Of course, liberals who know that criminals coming in with the decent Mexicans are willing to live with the continuous infusion of criminals, because they would like to see the Christians/middle class crushed. They see them as oppressors of people who want what they view as innocent sexual freedom and standing in the way of a one world government, which they believe will lead to peace, merely because it’s called a “one world government”, in otherwords, “unified”. But as history shows, simply claiming to be at one with others or unified doesn’t make it so, nor necessarily produce peace. A continuous example of this is the Catholic Church. One of their long standing priests, and who still is, said in June 2011, that there was disunity among them. Unity by the way is one of the major signs that the Catholic Church leaders claim shows them to be the true church. The rebellion in the 1600’s slips right past them as a sign of major disunity (and corruption). It’s also hard to ignore the child molestations, rapes and abortion problems they have as evidence against them, what they should acknowledge is, “bad fruit” and lack of any truly good fruit (because they are a bad and invasive type of tree and always have been).

But this scaremongering and allowing crime to spread will backfire the Bible teaches us. Though the rich, especially very rich, think that they are immune to most crime and death from lack of medical care, because of their great wealth, and though they may use their wealth to hire private armies, bribe police and leaders, build fortresses and mansions with protective rooms, and buy far away isolated places, islands, God can easily harm and put an end to them. If the rich allow or help an anti-Christ to come to power, they will be helping Satan, and Satan hates humans. Even if Satan helps them, he backstabs or abandons them afterwards. He is mentally ill, a narcissist sociopath who knows he has no future, only endless Hell, and so tries to have as much fun as he can before he gets there.

Debt of any kind matters, because the ones you are in debt to want their money back, especially if they feel that they are in financial trouble. And the more desperate they are to be paid back, the greater chance there is of them retaliating, neglecting or harming themselves or all three. The more people retaliate, the more crime and injury there will be, and the same is true when people harm themselves and commit suicide, especially if there people who loved them. And if those people who loved them have been provoked enough, they will retaliate or harm themselves, or both. It’s a “vicious cycle”. That’s what sin does: it spreads like a virus. Satan is the master drug pusher, thief, and oppressive lender, and God is allowing him to corrupt the world and sink it into endless debt. The ones with future hope, the Christians, don’t have to worry about endless debt however, because Jesus already suffered the endless punishment for them, but while they live, they will experience punishment, the kind that a loving father gives when his children disobey, so that they will do good instead.

Related Information:

Debt ceiling 101: Why does it matter?
By MyNorthwest.com

The Making of America’s Debt Crisis and the Long Recovery (book preview)
By Menzie D. Chinn and Jeffrey A. Frieden
The full book can be bought here

Global Credit Crisis: Greek Debt Hits U.S. Banks

In Greek Debt Crisis, Some See Parallels to U.S.

Can U.S. debt negotiators learn from Greece?
By Nancy Marshall Genzer and Stephen Beard

Debt Woes: Could America Go the Way of Greece?

Down Argentine Way
By Ron Holland

How Argentina survived economic meltdown
11 July 2011

Argentina: Life after default
by Richard Lim

At Debt’s Door: What Can We Learn from Argentina’s Recent Debt Crisis and Restructuring?

Argentine debt expert forecasts significant “hair cuts” for Greek bond holders

6/8/2011/00:09 UTC

The Failure of debt-based development: Lessons from Argentina
from the Cato [Institute] Journal

From Mexico to Argentina. What Have We Learned from Two Decades of Debt Crises

The Argentine Debt Crisis of 2001-2002 – A Chronology of Key Policy Issues

What Lessons Can Europe Learn From Latin America?

By Kevin P. Gallagher, associate professor of International Relations at Boston University

NEXT PLANNED ARTICLE: Is Water and Fertile Top Soil Becoming Scarce?

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