Burning Down the House


Should we say just more fuel on the fire?

Excerpted from David Malpass in the WSJ, The Bigger Battle Behind the Shutdown:

A staggering $250 billion per month, 80% of spending, runs on autopilot without congressional control.

The Fed is borrowing and spending $85 billion per month on bonds, and it claims the legal authority to increase its debt at will. Wall Street is intensely focused on supporting this profligacy and profiting from it. The Fed’s debt will reach $4 trillion at year-end, with at least $200 billion of it not counted properly in the national debt.

The Fed is choosing to buy long-term bonds with short-term debt. The result is a rapid shortening in the effective maturity of the national debt that benefits current politicians but puts taxpayers at risk. Like an adjustable-rate mortgage, the borrower, in this case the government, gets a lower interest rate now but will have to refinance at higher rates later.

Compounding the taxpayer risk, Treasury has scheduled a November launch of a new class of floating-rate debt that will compete with the Fed’s debt when interest rates begin to normalize. This leaves a huge portion of the national debt exposed to higher interest rates. And as Europe’s weak southern flank demonstrated in their 2010-12 crisis, financial markets treat floating-rate and short-term debt like blood in the water.


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