Thursday, 29 November 2012

Exam question of the day: On America’s lost decade

America grew up under an ethic of self-reliance.  It now revels in an ethic representing precisely the opposite.


For your examination question today, discuss whether or not such a situation is sustainable.

[Pic from Zero Hedge. Hat tip Keith W.]


  1. No, it's not sustainable, it's going to end badly, but at least they wont be alone, as there are other likeminded countries heading in the same direction. I believe Greece is in the lead at the moment and has an assailable lead.

  2. the drunken watchman30 Nov 2012, 10:22:00

    Yes, it MAY be sustainable I think.

    A government can increase its revenue by the stealth tax of inflation. Those who play the game by investing in "inflation-proof" markets (housing in Auckland, for example) tread water. Anyone silly enough to keep cash under their mattress loses, obviously.

    Additional to tax by inflation, increased "tax on the wealthy" may fund the increasing number of people on food stamps and other entitlements, while what would otherwise be an inevitable decrease in production may be offset by gains in productivity through technological advances, automation etc.

    So sustainable? maybe. Get richer? probably not.Is there an alternative whereby the "get richer" option becomes more likely? No doubt, just got to read this blog!

    BTW, anyone got any figures on the "net worth" of the USA state?

    16 trillion dollars of debt we hear about constantly - should we not do an asset off-set calculation before we all drink the kool-aid?

  3. The unfunded liabilities art the bottom right is the most relevant figure-though not the only one.

  4. the drunken watchman30 Nov 2012, 12:06:00

    so PC....

    is your "unfunded liabilities" comment in response to my question about offsetting assets against debt?

    or am I flattering myself to think you might respond to my economic ignorance :)

    If it is, then I'm afraid I am seeking a simpler answer. I mean, have you seen an estimate of the current market value of all the US state assets - parks, buildings, military hardware, etc?

    One of the things I would then do, if I wanted a very rough idea of "how well the economy is doing" would be to subtract the one from the other.

    If all the US goverment had to do to clear its debt was to sell its assets, that woiuld be a happy libertarian outcome, no?


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