US Debt Ceiling, The Wall, Runaway Spending And The Lack Of Evidence Of Concern … So Far (Low US CDS)

The US Statutory Debt Limit, a failed tool to halt the endless growth of Federal debt issuance, is once again in play at nearly $20 trillion. It was only at $6 trillion in 2002.

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The problem, of course, is runaway Fed spending which is currently at around twice that of Federal current tax receipts, requiring that the deficit be funded by issuing Federal debt (or raising taxes and/or cutting Federal spending).

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The staggering increase in Federal debt starting in 2007 also resulted in a large spike in public debt to GDP.

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The US has joined the European PIGs (Portugal, Italy, Greece, as well as Cyprus and Belgium) in having debt as a percentage of GDP being over 100%. The fourth debt piggie is Spain at 99.40% debt to GDP.

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The core problem with Federal spending, now and in the future, is mandatory (entitlement) spending.

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Of the entitlement spending, Medicare is growing at an unsustainable rate (although Medicaid growth is no slouch either).

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So we are on an ussustainable track in terms of spending. How does “the wall” with Mexico fit it? It could be funded with more taxation, or spending cuts on other programs. Democrats LOVE raising taxes, but not to build a wall. Republicans are split on building a wall (open border freemarketeers versus those with national security concerns).

My colleagues at my former employer Deutsche Bank have attempted to lay out possible funding scenarios. Although I think the odds of deep spending cuts is about as likely as North Korea embracing personal freedom and capitalism.

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With explosive Federal spending and projections of public debt exceeding first $20 and then $30 trillion, I have little doubt that Congress and President Trump will agree on a debt limit increase even if there is a momentary government shutdown.

But right now, credit default swaps are signaling no shutdown, particularly in comparison to previous shutdown fears surrounding debt ceiling increases (orange boxes).

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So, there is nothing YET showing up in the CDS data. We are seeing an increase in Treasury bills rates even when the probability of a Fed increase in their rates is very low for the next year.

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The probability of a US default is around 0.04%.

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But there is also a realization that while there was intial enthusiam that Trump would lower taxes and deregulate the economy,  there is has a steady decline in enthusiasm over his promises since Congress is obstructing most of Trump’s economic agenda.

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We can hope that Congress and President Trump follow the advice of the band Canned Heat and work together. 

But we do know that Congress loves to spend money, so they have a natural mutual allegiance to raising the debt ceiling.

Perhaps Andy Dwyer and Mouserat from Parks and Recreation can rewrite their song “The Pit” as “The Wall.”

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Debt Star! Trump May Need Obama’s Secret Debt Plan, Worrying Markets

So, President Obama had a secret plan to default on the US public debt all along. And President Trump may have to use it.

(Bloomberg) Deep within the Treasury Department sits a once-secret plan written by the Obama administration that could lead to the first-ever default on U.S. debt. Bond traders are worried that Donald Trump’s Treasury secretary may have to use it.

The U.S. government will reach its statutory limit on borrowing some time in October, the Congressional Budget Office estimates. The Trump administration has asked Congress to raise the ceiling before then, but it is running into the same complications the Obama White House encountered: lawmakers, mostly Republicans, who want to use the debt limit as leverage for controversial policy changes.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said there are “plans and backup plans” to keep the government solvent through September. Bond traders suspect he is referring to preparations made in 2011 in case the Obama administration had to prioritize payments on government securities over other obligations. The Treasury chief got fresh hope that Congress may raise the debt limit before leaving for its August recess after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delayed the break by two weeks.

Yes, Congress and the US Treasury has a debt problem. Explosive debt, thanks to chronic spending by Congress, will really be facing a problem if Treasury rates rise.

Healthcare spending (such as Medicare) is growing exponentially.

Leading to a CBO forecast of over $30 trillion in the near future.

And then we have the massive underfunding of government pension plans which will require bailouts by taxpayers. Look at Illinois, for example at 40% funded.

The good news is that markets aren’t pricing in excessive debt … yet.

With Senators like Maria Cantwell running things in Congress, how bad can it be?