The US government is spending money and running up debt at an unfathomable rate. The US national debt increased by a staggaring $814 billion in just two months. When confronted with this reality, most people just shrug. Policymakers certainly don’t care. They continue to ramp up spending and call for even more. Paul Krugman recently tweeted that we need more government stimulus — ie spending — to stoke tepid demand.
Democrats have never cared about spending and Republicans swear tax cuts will grow the economy and fix the debt problem. But as we’ve reported many times, debt retards economic growth.
Now we have even more evidence that government stimulus doesn’t stimulate. In fact, it has the exact opposite effect, as we can see from Europe’s spending binge.
While President Trump nags the Federal Reserve to reinstitute Obama-era monetary stimulus, China has already taken off down that path. And it actually has some people in the mainstream concerned.
According to a Reuters report, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is warning that while Chinese government stimulus may boost the country’s economy in the short-run, it “may undermine the country’s drive to control debt and worsen structural distortions over the medium term.”
We often criticize the Federal Reserve for its three rounds of quantitative easing. Coupled with artificially low interest rates, Fed QE stimulus — essentially money creation –pumped up all kinds of asset bubbles. Now that the US central bank is trying to tighten, we’re beginning to see the air seep out of those bubbles.
But when it comes to QE, the Federal Reserve has nothing on the European Central Bank. The ECB just announced the end of its QE program this month. The ECB’s QE purchases totaled somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.6 trillion euros. The bank also pushed interest rates below zero. So, what did the EU get for all this stimulus? Not a whole lot.
The US economy is now technically in the second-longest recovery in history. If it continues another 14 months, it will eclipse the longest recovery, which took place in the 1990s.
As Peter Schiff pointed out in his latest podcast, the Federal Reserve pulled out all the stops in the 1990s to keep the recovery going. That set the stage for the dot-com crash and ultimately the Great Recession.
Now the Fed is doing it again.
Have you heard of the depression of 1920-21?
Unless you’re a pretty hard-core economics geek, you probably haven’t.
The most striking aspect of this depression was its duration. It lasted just 18 months. And how did the US get itself out of this sharp economic downturn?
By essentially doing nothing.