Why Is Japan So Rich?
Inflation Ticks Higher in April as Rents Keep Rising
“Consumer prices rose faster in April, driven by another round of sharp increases in rental prices—and raising ongoing questions about whether a return to 2 percent annual inflation is possible.
Overall, prices rose by 0.4 percent in April, according to data released Wednesday morning by the Department of Labor, after ticking upward by just 0.1 percent in March. The annualized inflation rate fell to 4.9 percent, down slightly from March’s annualized rate of 5.0 percent.
Even though those numbers are a far cry from the 9.1 percent annual rate posted as recently as last June, it’s a worrying sign that inflation seems to have settled into a range that’s significantly higher than it had been for decades. The average inflation rate between 1990 and 2020, for example, was about 2.3 percent.”
The Biden Administration Reduced the Debt-to-GDP Ratio in the Worst Possible Way
“Public debt since 2020 has grown by $3 trillion. According to the latest Monthly Treasury Statement, government spending in March of 2023 alone was twice the revenue collected. The deficit in the first six months of FY 2023 is about 80 percent as large as the deficit for the entire FY 2022. Our mid-year deficit is $1.1 trillion, compared to $667 billion at the same point last year. Falling revenue collection is responsible for only 17 percent of this difference. The other 83 percent is overwhelmingly due to excessive and increased spending.
In simpler terms, the decline in the debt-to-GDP ratio cannot be attributed to spending cuts, even as we move away from what’s now widely regarded as an excessive fiscal response to the pandemic.”
“Government debt as a share of the U.S. economy is falling.”
“The main driver behind the reduction is inflation”
The Debt Ceiling Fight Is a Reminder of America’s Dire Fiscal Future
“The debt ceiling standoff has people concerned about what will happen if the U.S. defaults on its debt. I certainly hope both sides will come together to avoid this outcome. But it is still worth reminding everyone how incredibly precarious the status quo is, and why something needs to change.
You’ve heard the warnings about our debt levels, to the point where they might be easy to tune out. I make these all the time. When assessing how much we should worry, it’s wise to look both at our current situation and where we’re heading. This year, our budget deficit will likely be $1.4 trillion. What’s more, the deficit will reach about $2.8 trillion in 2033. And that’s assuming peace, prosperity, relatively low interest rates, no new spending, and that some provisions of the 2017 tax cuts will expire as scheduled.
That’s $20 trillion in new borrowing over 10 years. So far, Uncle Sam has “only” accumulated $31 trillion in debt over the course of our entire history. But it gets worse fast. Congressional Budget Office projections show that the federal government will accumulate about $114 trillion in deficits over the next 30 years, which would place our debt at nearly 200 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Most of this predicted shortfall is due to Social Security and Medicare. Together these programs will consume 11.5 percent of GDP by 2035.
This is a lot of borrowing. In theory, it might not lead to a debt crisis if the government can find people to buy the debt at low rates or Congress develops a serious plan to repay it. Yet even assuming the best case scenario, borrowing like this has a cost. Debt is a drag on economic growth, which means less tax revenue to pay it off.
A large debt also means higher interest payments. We already spend more on interest payments than on Medicaid, and 17.4 percent of our revenue goes toward interest payments. These payments will balloon to $1.5 trillion, or 22 percent of federal revenue, by 2033. Within 30 years, interest payments will consume half of all tax revenues. By then a lot of the spending that people like will be crowded out.
Even these estimates are rosy. They don’t take into consideration the inflation that could result from all this debt accumulation. Most of our debt has a maturity of less than four years. As Congress gives up on controlling debt, once-confident investors might worry that the Fed will stabilize the debt with inflation. History provides some examples, and today’s debt-to-GDP has fallen since the pandemic in part due to inflation. Investors, sooner rather than later, could demand higher interest rates as an inflation premium.
Research confirms the impact of debt on long-term interest rates. Every percentage point increase in the debt-to-GDP ratio is associated with an increase of three basis points (0.03 percent) of the long-term real interest rate. So, if the debt ratio rises by 100 percent over the next 30 years, it will put upward pressure on interest rates of about three percentage points.
Because of the dollar’s unique role in the global economy, the United States may have more legroom than other countries. Still, it’s wise to worry that if the debt-to-GDP ratio rises from 94 percent to roughly 200 percent in three decades, we could face some serious interest rate hikes.
If interest rates rise by just one percentage point, that will add $3 trillion in interest payments over 10 years, on top of the $10 trillion we’re already scheduled to pay. That’s an additional $30 trillion over 30 years. Add a few more interest rate hikes and soon all your tax revenue is consumed by interest payments, not to mention the negative impact these rate hikes can have on the larger American economy.
A better question is this: Is it credible to bet on investors agreeing to buy $114 trillion in debt over the next 30 years? China and Japan have already reduced their holdings of American bonds, while the Fed already holds 25 percent of our debt. It’s unclear that domestic investors will step up to the plate. What happens then? Taxes can only be raised so much. Under the current tax system, on average, the United States has raised about 18 percent of GDP in tax revenue. But in 30 years, spending will be 30 percent of GDP.
My hope is that if you’ve read this far, you now understand that Congress should start working diligently to stop our debt from growing. No side is going to like what’s required, but it must be done. And the longer we wait, the more painful it will be.”
Do tariffs increase inflation?
Do tariffs increase inflation? — Video Sources
How Tariffs and the Trade War Hurt U.S. Agriculture Alex Durante. 2022 7 25. Tax Foundation. Tracking the Economic Impact of U.S. Tariffs and Retaliatory Actions Erica York. 2022 4 1. Tax Foundation. Lessons from the 2002 Bush Steel Tariffs Erica York.
The German Development Model: On The Brink of Collapse?
The real reason prices aren’t coming down
“The thing about excuseflation is it’s sort of grounded in truth. It’s the idea that companies are using these once-in-a-lifetime disruptions. Think about the supply chain hiccups that we’ve had. Think about the Ukraine-Russia war. And they’re using those one-off disruptions as an excuse to raise prices. And that sounds fair enough. You know, companies, they have expenses. If their input costs go up, maybe it makes sense for them to pass some of those on to customers. But where it starts to become insidious is when they’re raising prices so much that they’re seeing their profits go up quite substantially as well.”
“Sure. So one of my favorite examples, because, you know, I love these personally, but chicken wings. Let’s talk about chicken wings and Wingstop. Wingstop is a very large purveyor of very delicious chicken wings. And what they’ve been saying on their earnings calls is that they have been raising their prices for their delicious chicken wings. And the reason they’ve been doing that is because the wholesale cost of your basic chicken wing went up quite a lot during the pandemic. We had a lot of disruptions at various farms, chicken farms with labor shortages and things like that. So it made sense that chicken wing prices went up and the company started passing those on to consumers.
The issue now, though, is that we have seen a substantial drop in chicken wing prices. And yet the company isn’t saying that it’s going to start dropping its prices. What it’s discovered, much like a lot of other businesses at the moment, is that actually this strategy of making up what you lose in sales volume with higher prices, so you’re selling fewer products, but you’re selling them at higher prices, [is] a viable strategy in the current environment, and it’s working for a lot of companies because profit margins are up.”
“baker in Chicago kind of laid it out for us. He said: “Whether it’s rye flour or bird flu, that impacts eggs when it makes national news just running a business, it’s an opportunity to increase the prices without getting a whole bunch of complaining from the customers. It’s not that we’re out there price gouging, but, you know, timing can be everything.””
“think about the reason that we tend not to like monopolies as consumers. We want, you know, a vibrant landscape of lots of smaller businesses that are all competing with each other so that we get a better value for our money. What happens when you have an industry-wide event that gives a group of businesses an excuse to raise prices: They are all effectively, not officially, but effectively acting as a monopoly. They can all say, well, you know, it’s bird flu, so we’re all going to raise the prices of our eggs.”
Is this a soft landing or the start of a recession?