A Model for Federal Equity, not Debt

Given that the stock market appears to finally be taking a pause after a decade long run, this may seem like a terrible time to talk about subtleties like debt versus equity or how to finance federal debt. Yet this is exactly the time when something like what is proposed here would be useful for the government and investors alike.

Our national debt is financed through a complex system with fixed interest and market trading which is cumbersome and difficult. Worse, it ties the government down to fixed costs which are currently taking up 329B$ per year in interest payments, nearly $3,000 per household.

In short, there has to be a better way to manage the 21T$ or so of debt. Step one would be not creating more, but here is a plan for managing the potentially crippling debt we already have.

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Visit From St. Klaus

Long ago, I would occasionally write “news poems,” or silly li’l rhymes on current events.  This one, from a full ten years ago, highlights just how bad things were then.  This reminder of Christmas past is intended to help everyone get through the difficult times in the stock market which are surely a part of 2018’s present and future as a brand new bubble bursts. 

‘Twas the hours before trading, and there on the screen
The markets abroad were all tranquil and green;
In Europe and Asia they each held to their course,
With decent increases in bourse after bourse.
But yet I couldn’t sleep in the dark of the night
Knowing somewhere that something just possibly might
Take a dive, though the hour was terribly late
For the year wasn’t over, this bad two-oh-oh-eight.

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Coming Out Even

Barataria has long joked that economics is just sociology with a way of keeping score. Like most jokes, that’s an exaggeration with a kernel of truth at the heart of it. Where we should all be interested in fairly circulating wealth in a way that provides a good life for everyone and raising capital to get things done, people naturally want to know who is “winning” instead.

The stock market is the best, or worst, example of this. Where it should concentrate on raising capital for corporations, it is instead a kind of sporting match. Like any sport, it can be bet on. With the betting comes attempts to game the system which can work in the short term before it all eventually returns to the mean.

That is pretty much all that is happening right now, aside from attempts to game the overall economy with poorly considered deficits and trade wars.

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Other People’s Money

The stock market is high. What gets a market feelin’ good and oblivious to everything around it is a powerful drug, one that has the ability to cloud judgement like nothing else. The opium of markets is OPM, or Other People’s Money.

Where the stock market should be feeling blue and dealing with the realities of a world unraveling with trade wars and debt, it’s taken another course. It’s decided to just get high the best way it can. In that state of euphoria none of that other stuff matters, and everything is good. We have plenty of OPM to go around.

Right now, the stock market has a serious OPM crisis that very few people are talking about.

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Jobs Are Good!

Good news! The economy added 313k jobs in February!

Like all news, we need some kind of reality check first. Did it really? The long and short of it is that, as always, the ADP employment report is less noisy and thus more accurate. It had a gain of 263k jobs in February, which is probably the right number. Still very good news all around.

But is good news actually bad news? Along with the jobs report we have the increase in wages, which stands at a modest 2.6% over the last year. Does that mean inflation is tamed? We will see what the markets think.

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Yes, But How is It All Screwed Up?

We’ve made the Barataria position very clear – that current federal policy is doomed to trash the stock market and somewhat damage the overall economy. That wasn’t talking about new tariffs, however. As the mechanism for screwing things up shifts, the predictions as to how it will all go down have to shift.

So here we are, trying to make some sense of the senseless. It’s more of a crapshoot every day.

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