The "Debt Ceiling" Is Ridiculous Nonsense

J: Few exercises in politics are more futile and pointless (L: and time-consuming and distracting) than the regular jousting in Congress over increases in the total amount of money the US government is authorized to borrow. According to the US Treasury, Congress has acted 78 separate times since 1960 to permanently raise, temporarily extend or revise the definition of the types of debt subject to the ceiling. These actions have been taken 49 times with a Republican in the White House and 29 times with a Democrat there. A brutal fight over this issue took place in the summer of 2011. It became the subject of a marvelous book on the debacle by Bob Woodward, The Price of Politics, along wit

Woohoo!  We Are Really Rich!

J: For over seventy years now the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (“the Board”) has been providing us with quarterly updates on the balance sheets and income statements of various key sectors of the US economy. For most of that time these data were called “The Flow of Funds Accounts,” but now they are known as the “Financial Accounts of the United States.” Since the report is enumerated as the “Z.1 release,” it can also be called that. L: Just a little economic jargon ‘splaining for you. You’re welcome. J: On June 8, we got spectacularly good news on the net worth of households and nonprofit corporations, which is the way the Board reports these data. As the chart sho

Don't Worry about the Trade Deficit

J: President Trump and some of his key advisers, most notably Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Director of the White House National Trade Council, Peter Navarro, love to complain about “unfair trading partners” of the US. They also wring their hands over the trade deficit. On June 2, the Census Bureau released data for trade in goods and services for April. During April, the US exported $191.0 billion of goods and services and imported $238.6 billion, both seasonally adjusted. That resulted in a deficit of $47.6 billion. The deficit on goods along was $68.4 billion; the surplus in services was $20.8 billion. The following chart shows the total deficit from the beginning of 1992 through

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