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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Massive default by inflation?

Conventional economic forecasts for government tax receipts are far too optimistic. The U.S. Treasury will need to issue far more debt in the coming years than most analysts now realize. Yet even the optimistic forecasts are sobering. For example, in March the Congressional Budget Office projected that the Obama administration’s budgetary plans would lead to a doubling of the federal debt as a share of the economy, from 41 percent of GDP in 2008 to 82 percent of GDP by 2019. The deficit for fiscal year 2009 (which ended Sept. 30) alone was $1.4 trillion. For reference, the entire federal budget was less than $1.4 trillion in the early years of the Clinton administration.

Clearly the U.S. government will be incurring massive new debts in the years to come. The situation looks so grim that economist Jeffrey Hummel has predicted that the Treasury will default on its obligations, just as Russia defaulted on its bonds in 1998. But another scenario involves the Federal Reserve wiping out the real burden of the debt by writing checks out of thin air to buy up whatever notes the Treasury wants to issue.

Many analysts are worried about Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s actions during the financial crisis; Marc Faber is openly warning of “hyperinflation.”

-- from "Killing the Currency" by Robert P. Murphy.

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