Interest Rate Roundup

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The official CBO line: $1.186 trillion

The Congressional Budget Office released its latest official report on the outlook for the nation's finances over the next decade. The projected deficit for 2009: $1.186 trillion. 'Tis but a flesh wound, eh? Er ... no. It's actually the largest deficit ever recorded in world history. In case you're wondering, $1.186,000,000,000 is also:

* More than the inflation-adjusted cost of the Vietnam ($698 billion) and Korean Wars ($454 billion).

* More than the Louisiana Purchase ($217 billion) and the Savings and Loan bailouts ($256 billion).

* Greater than the 2007 Gross Domestic Product of all but 13 other countries in the world.

* Equal to $3,881 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S.

* And it could buy 189,760,000,000 bushels of wheat at recent prices ... 26,893,424,036 barrels of oil ... or 1,581,333,333,333 cans of Diet Coke at my trusty vending machine here in the break room.

Here's the really fun part: The CBO estimate doesn’t even include any potential stimulus package from Congress and the Obama administration. We haven’t gotten the final details of the plan, but it could cost anywhere from $675 billion to $1 trillion. That means the ultimate 2009 deficit could end up being larger by 60% ... 70% ... 80% ... or more.

Maybe you're thinking the red ink is a short-term problem, one that will go away soon? Er ... no again. At least, not according to the CBO. A nifty table on page 23 of the document projects red ink as far as the eye can see: An ADDITIONAL $3,135 trillion from 2010 through 2019.

Congress and the incoming administration could really clamp down on spending going forward (Sorry, I just spit my soda on the keyboard writing that line) to stem the flood of red ink. Or the stimulus plan could manage to completely offset all the credit, real estate, and economic problems, thereby leading to a windfall in tax receipts as the economy comes roaring back and happy days become the norm again (also unlikely). But if not, this country’s finances are going to be blown to hell for years and years to come.


  • So in 2011 interest will be close to $500bil/yr - at 2007 tax receipt levels thats about 18%. And thats borrowing at low rates. Thats about what we budget for Social Security, or a little less then defense.


    Given a world of investment alternatives its mind-boggling to me that we have people still rushing in to buy treasuries.

    I might be a buyer if they were denominated in Yen...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 8, 2009 at 7:50 AM  

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