Wednesday, November 6, 2013

$16 trillion in Debt, but with $200 trillion in Assets

The US may have $16 trillion in national debt, but it's not $16 trillion in the hole. The US most likely has over $200 trillion or more in net assets. The US government’s real constraint is inflation, not solvency (which hasn't been a problem). The "national debt" is a vastly different issue than the one the GOP and media usually harps about (with regards to the budget deficit and government spending). The US government can be thought of as a contingent currency issuer who can issue funds to spend, making it very different from a typical household budget.

Cullen Roche, founder of Orcam Financial Group and Pragmatic Capitalism (and the author of Understanding the Modern Monetary System) wrote a piece: The US Government is not $16 Trillion in the Hole where he disputes a "very scary" report on CNBC that said the US government is "$16 trillion in the hole".

For starters, the IER estimates that total fossil fuel resources owned by the Federal government are valued at over $150 trillion alone. These assets alone are FIFTY FIVE times the amount stated in the CNBC report.

But that only scratches the surface. I haven’t even looked into the huge amount of federally owned land and buildings that would surely amount into the hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars. There’s also the gold resources. And there’s the trillions of dollars in its own liabilities that it owns via the Fed and Social Security funds. I have no idea what all of this would add up to, but it would probably be a net worth nearing $200 trillion or more.

And none of this even touches on the operational realities behind the United States monetary system, and the fact that we’re not going bankrupt unless we choose to go bankrupt...and we’re not going to be unable to pay the bills on debt denominated in a currency we can print, unless we choose not to pay those bills.

Can somebody say "Tea Party?"

If you had a net worth of $200 and you owed someone $16 (and you could print your own money), would you be very worried? Should your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren be very concerned?

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