Debt and the Deficit: Back to the Basics

Jul. 18, 2011 3:43 AM ETSPY, QQQ, DIA153 Comments
John Mauldin profile picture
John Mauldin
12.5K Followers

This week we are going to revisit some themes concerning the problems of the debt and the deficit. I am getting a number of questions, so while long-time readers may have read most of this in one letter or another, it is clearly time for a review, especially given the deficit / debt-ceiling debate. I will probably offend some cherished beliefs of most readers, but that is the nature of the times we live in. It is the time of the Endgame, where things are not as black and white as they have been in the past.

Let’s begin with a question that is representative of a lot of the questions I have been getting, from reader John:

“John, it appears that you're arguing that two contradictory things have the same effect: adding government spending doesn't help the economy, and reducing government spending hurts the economy. Which is it? At first, you say that adding government spending doesn't help, no new jobs are actually created, it fails the sharp pencil test, etc. So, we should reduce this waste, right? Well, yes, you say, but that will reduce GDP too. I just don't get it. You seem to have it both ways: increasing government spending is bad, and reducing it is bad. What is your point?”

Yes, I am saying both things, and they are not contradictory. We are coming to the end of the debt supercycle in the U.S., and have reached that point in much of Europe, and soon will in Japan. So while I am going to focus on the U.S., at least this week, the same principles apply to all the developed world.

For some 65-odd years, we have added to the national debt – individually, corporately, and as governments. But as Greece is finding out, there is a limit (more on that later). Eventually

This article was written by

John Mauldin profile picture
12.5K Followers
I am a financial writer, publisher, and New York Times bestselling-author. Each week, nearly a million readers around the world receive my Thoughts From the Frontline free investment newsletter. My most recent book is Code Red: How to Protect Your Savings from the Coming Crisis. I appear regularly on CNBC and Bloomberg TV. I’m also Chairman of Mauldin Economics, a research group that provides monthly analysis and recommendations to thousands of readers around the world. I was previously CEO of the American Bureau of Economic Research. Today I am President of the investment advisory firm Millennium Wave Advisors, LLC. I am also president and registered principal of Millennium Wave Securities, LLC a FINRA and SIPC registered broker dealer. When I’m not traveling to speak at conferences and events, I live in Dallas, TX. I’m also the proud father of seven children.

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