17 or 70 trillion?

Even though we see so many ‘stories’ on how well the US is doing, we must ask ourselves on what value these numbers are trying to convince us of.

The thoughts I am about to phrase started a little after the following had been released (at http://blogs.marketwatch.com/capitolreport/2014/06/06/standard-poors-is-concerned-about-the-u-s-debt-burden/). “Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services put out research Friday confirming the AA+ rating of the U.S.“, so the US has dropped a notch on the credibility scale. This in itself should not be a reason for direct concern. The one part that does worry is that S&P was the only one doing this. The other part we should notice is the quote “The federal debt was $16.1 trillion at the end of fiscal year 2012, according to the Government Accountability office.” why are we not seeing a 2013 number, which according to some is over 17 trillion? How interesting is it to see the numbers game whilst the numbers quoted are not up to date?

The next part is the article from Bloomberg on April 29th 2014. Here we see the following “The drop in net marketable debt will be $78 billion in the April-June period, $38 billion more than the pay down projected three months ago, with an end-of-June cash balance of $130 billion, the Treasury said today in Washington. The improvement will be short lived — net borrowing of $169 billion is projected next quarter, with $130 billion in cash Sept. 30th“. Can anyone see the issue I have with this? The debt of well over 17,000 billion is getting met with a quarterly pay down of less than 0.4588%. How is this progress and even though we see that the US still has a high credit score, is the likelihood of a continued credit score even realistic?

That part can be seen in the Market watch quote “We believe that renewed debate over the debt ceiling could resume after the midterm elections in November 2014 under certain scenarios. While we expect the discussions about the debt ceiling to be ultimately resolved as they have been, we still see risks that these debates entail.” So, not only is there no solution to the current debt levels, the chance of any serious solutions occurring within this current administration is close to zero, which means that the next administration will inherit a debt closer to 20 trillion. I do find the headline about ‘US debt level concerns‘ hilarious. Many with me had raised these dangers for well over 2 years and now as the game is up, some are ‘raising’ concerns, whilst those in charge and those on the watchdogs of economy had long known that any level of lowering the debt had been a mere myth for over 2 years.

There are of course other views. One is from Chad Stone who wrote in US News (at http://www.usnews.com/opinion/economic-intelligence/2014/05/16/too-much-deficit-and-debt-reduction-too-soon-will-wreck-the-recovery) “now about $17.5 trillion, found on the ‘debt clocks’ that are so popular with debt hysterics. Gross debt (and its close cousin, ‘debt subject to limit’) is debt held by the public plus debt internal to the government“. This is fair enough, yet there is no information, not even any indication when this debt will start to lower. There is another side to consider. When we look at the IRS data book (at http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-soi/13databk.pdf), consider that the IRS collected a net value of taxation of 2.4 trillion dollars. A slightly more accurate number is 2,490 billion.

When we consider all the numbers thrown at us, like the ‘% of the GDP’ and so on, even if we accept that the 17 trillion dollars debt is held on multiple level, compared to what the IRS collects, we see a number that reflects the tax collected, compared to the total debt. The US gets through taxation a mere 14% of where the debt is at. How is any of that realistic? So, the total collected taxation, before any other cost is taken into account (like paying government staff and utilities), it only amounts to 14%, after all that is done 0.1% is left if the US government gets a fitting budget (something that has not been achieved since president Clinton was in office).

My issue is not just with the US debt levels, it is also about the ‘blasé’ approach economists are throwing at the people stating that things are not that bad and that it will all work out. That part is a figment of THEIR imagination, because for things to resolve, actions must be taken and none are getting taken at present (or in the near future for that matter). My biggest issue with the Article of Chad Stone is seen at the end. His quote “Lowering the debt ratio comes at a cost, not only risking the recovery if it’s done too fast but also in burdening businesses and households with larger spending cuts, higher taxes or both to stabilize the debt ratio“. There is truth in that statement, yet the issue that the money should have NEVER been spent is an issue that is ignored. The culprits of this dangerous endeavour are not named, not held accountable and many of them walked away with millions in bonuses.

We are however nowhere near the end of this debacle. The articles give another view on the matter. An article was published in 2013 stating an entirely different matter of debt. The REAL total debt is set at 70 trillion (at http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/08/15/california-economist-says-real-us-debt-70-trillion-not-16-trillion-government/). The quote that matters is “Hamilton believes the government is miscalculating what it owes by leaving out certain unfunded liabilities that include government loan guarantees, deposit insurance, and actions taken by the Federal Reserve as well as the cost of other government trust funds. Factoring in those figures brings the total amount the government owes to a staggering $70 trillion

Now we are off to an entirely different race, this only gets worse if we take the Bloomberg article into account from March 2014, which headlines as ‘Debt Exceeds $100 Trillion as Governments Binge‘ (at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-10/debt-exceeds-100-trillion-as-governments-binge.html). Make sure you realise that this last article is about global debt and not about US debt.

This was already on my scope for another reason, but I will return to that shortly. I need to return to the Fox News article where it stated the view of Professor Hamilton, an economics professor from San Diego. The reason for this is because I try to stay fair and balanced (statement plagiarised from Fox News) and as such, as I found additional views from the professor, it is only fair that I mention that too. This all is linked to a paper he published in 2013 (at http://econweb.ucsd.edu/~jhamilton/Cato_paper.pdf), it is the starting quote “This paper examines the growth of federal liabilities that are not included in the officially reported numbers” which should grab your attention. Yes, we are talking about ‘off’ the book liabilities, which should make us all wonder whether ANY government should be allowed to be part of liabilities that are not on the books to begin with. If our job is to stem the tide of irresponsible spending, then keeping things ‘off the books‘ as the ‘kids’ seem to state, should not be allowed under any condition. If we look at the quote that was found in the Econ browser by professor Hamilton, we see “Similar calculations from the trustees reports for Medicare report Medicare’s net unfunded liabilities for current program participants to be $27.6 trillion. For more details see Table 4 and the accompanying discussion in my paper.” The floor should open to an entirely different debate and soon. I think it is high time that these events are properly mapped out and as such ALL governments need to adhere to a different level of ‘accounting’. Their books can no longer remain silent in regards to unfunded liabilities. Is it any wonder books are not in order in a massive amount of nations?

This now grabs back to other observations I made and more important the small revelation my data implied. On March 22nd 2013 I wrote the blog article ‘60% confiscated and counting in Cyprus!‘, here I quoted “If this is what frightens the US, then consider the consequences of a system like LIBOR being manipulated through the total value of trade. If that would have been off by 11.2%. Out of $1000T (UK and US combined) then that difference would be $112T“, I implied to some extent that not only were the percentages messed with, I had some reason to believe that someone had messed with the total trade value that LIBOR represents. Perhaps my mistake (to some extent) was thinking that it was ‘just’ manipulation. In my defence, I came up with these findings before Professor Hamilton had finished his paper, so as a non-economist I was slightly in the dark to begin with. Consider that some politicians could be overspending, whilst using the options of unfunded liabilities within LIBOR to excuse themselves for accountability? What will other governments say, when such events are brought to light (if that would be happening). More important, if my number was closer to the truth then many considered, the global economy is playing high stakes poker with debts twice the size then most realise and our cost of living is based partially upon the irresponsible spending of both Washington and Wall-Street. How are the people ever to get a fair shake at a happy life, when a group of no more than 3000 people have been spending the dreams and futures of well over 1 billion people? Most do not realise that this goes way past the borders of the US, if there is indeed an established group editing the total value of trade considering the manipulation of the LIBOR percentage, the established setting of unfunded liabilities, as well as the breaking up on loans as they might occur. For this example, I would like to point you towards www.lsta.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=2480, here we see a paper from Credit Suisse made by Julia Kingston in August 2006. The next part is just pure supposition on my side. Look at slide 35, here we see a term loan set in three parts. What happened when something falls over in 2 or 4 months? How many parts when Wall Street made its 8 trillion bungle was not written off? Is my consideration that the TOTAL LIBOR trade value has a massive amount of ‘entries’ that had remained hoping it would turn for the better? We have seen a multitude of financial advisors playing just such a card on many levels in the 2008-2011 periods. My question now becomes, was my implied 11.2% just the tip of the iceberg?

I am not claiming, nor do I pretend to have the actual answer here, My issue, as it was in the past is that ‘proclaimed’ Journalists sitting in the top newspapers have not taken a hard look at some elements. It is nice for them that Reuters does much of their work for them and many aspire, but will never come close to people like Paul Mason, Robert Peston or Deborah Hargreaves. Yet, how deep did they dig into LIBOR? Also linked (especially with the Guardian) was the claims that Jullian Assange made in regards to banking, they were never followed up (or so it seems), not even by the Guardian as far as I could tell. Consider the article the Guardian had on February 10th 2011 (at http://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/feb/10/julian-assange-wikileaks-book-claims). The quote “Asked about the ostensibly sensational bank leaks Assange keeps suggesting he is ready to release, Domscheit-Berg said the only banking documents he knew WikiLeaks had were ‘totally unspectacular’ is at the heart of this”. When it was ‘just’ about the US military there was some upheaval (especially by the US), yet when banking issues were raise (slightly mentioned in the Forbes interview in November 2010 at http://www.forbes.com/sites/andygreenberg/2010/11/29/wikileaks-julian-assange-wants-to-spill-your-corporate-secrets/). The interview gives us the following “Will we? Yes. We have one related to a bank coming up, that’s a mega leak. It’s not as big a scale as the Iraq material, but it’s either tens or hundreds of thousands of documents depending on how you define it. Is it a U.S. bank? Yes, it’s a U.S. bank. One that still exists? Yes, a big U.S. bank.

After this the hunt for Jullian Assange really takes on additional energy. I have no idea what he found, or if it is even related, the issue is that there is a recorded atmosphere of unaccountability within the banks (on a global scale) which must stop, if not, not only will governments be allowed to continue in irresponsible ways, but the additional ‘myth‘ that banks and governments apply checks and balances need to be thrown out of the nearest window. A last quote from the Forbes interview is every bit as important “We’re still investigating. All I can say is: it’s clear there were unethical practices, but it’s too early to suggest there’s criminality. We have to be careful about applying criminal labels to people until we’re very sure.

This is the part I had written about for some time, it was not just that the issue with Goldman Sachs imploded the financial industry; it was the issue that they, in black letter law, basically had not broken any laws. The people lost well over 8 trillion and no crime was committed even though their money was basically gambled away. It is that part, especially in the LIBOR sight, as well as the issue raised by Professor Hamilton in regards to unfunded liabilities. No laws are broken, but we are all kept in the dark in regards to the debts inflicted upon us, which in itself is a massive wrong.

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