2/9/08

Military Keynesianism

Many Americans believe that, even though our defense budget is huge, we can afford it because we are the richest country on Earth. Unfortunately, that statement is no longer true.

A telling comparison that reveals just how much worse we're doing can be found among the "current accounts" of various nations. The current account measures the net trade surplus or deficit of a country plus cross-border payments of interest, royalties, dividends, capital gains, foreign aid, and other income.

For example, in order for Japan to manufacture anything, it must import all required raw materials. Even after this incredible expense is met, it still has an $88 billion per year trade surplus with the United States and enjoys the world's second highest current account balance. (China is number one.)

The United States, by contrast, is number 163 -- dead last on the list. Its 2006 current account deficit was $811.5 billion; second worst was Spain at $106.4 billion. This is what is unsustainable.

It's not just that our tastes for foreign goods, including imported oil, vastly exceed our ability to pay for them. We are financing them through massive borrowing.

On November 7, 2007, the U.S. Treasury announced that the national debt had breached $9 trillion for the first time ever. If you begin in 1789, at the moment the Constitution became the supreme law of the land, the debt accumulated by the federal government did not top $1 trillion until 1981. When George Bush became president in January 2001, it stood at approximately $5.7 trillion. Since then, it has increased by 45%. This huge debt can be largely explained by our defense expenditures in comparison with the rest of the world.

[Excerpt of Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, by Chalmers Johnson]

1 comment:

Ted Rudow III,MA said...

All great societies pass this way eventually, running up unsustainable debts and printing (or minting) currency in an increasingly desperate attempt to maintain the illusion of prosperity. And all, eventually, find themselves between the proverbial devil and deep blue sea: Either they simply collapse under the weight of their accumulated debt, as did the U.S. and Europe in the 1930s, or they keep running the printing presses until their currencies become worthless and their economies fall into chaos.
This is a big blow to the money men, the rich stock investors in New York and the U.S.A. and around the world. It starts with the U.S., then it sort of dominoes. How it will go this time, of course, nobody knows except the Lord, but we know there's going to be a Crash, and a worldwide Crash, and this could be the beginning of the real crash!
How long can they stand that? And the U.S. itself has the biggest deficit it has ever had, amounting to nearly $5,132,265,067,831.71 current debt held by the public and Intragovernmental Holdings $4,105,743,221,110.40, total public debt outstanding of $9,238,008,288,942.11. Dollars that the U.S. owes and can't pay. There has to come a day of reckoning, and it looks like it's about to come!
Ted Rudow III,MA