Weekend Reading: Fiscal Irresponsibility

Source:

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

Without much fanfare or public discussion, Congress has decided to push the U.S. into deeper fiscal responsibility. Earlier this week, the House passed another Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government from “shutting down” prior to the mid-term elections.

“The House on Wednesday passed an $854 billion spending bill to avert an October shutdown, funding large swaths of the government while pushing the funding deadline for others until Dec. 7.

The bill passed by 361-61, a week after the Senate passed an identical measure by a vote of 93-7.”

For almost a decade, Congress has failed to pass, and operate, underneath a budget. Of course, without any repercussions from voters in demanding that Congress “does their job,” the path to fiscal insolvency continues to grow.

The Committee For A Responsible Federal Budget made the following statement:

“We’re pleased policymakers have likely avoided a shutdown and actually appropriated most of this year’s discretionary budget on time. But let’s not forgot that Congress did so without a budget and had to grease the wheels with $153 billion to pass these bills. That isn’t function; it’s a fiscal free-for-all.”

Of course, with trillion-dollar deficits just around the corner, the negative impact from unbridled spending and debt increases will begin to reverse the positive effects from deregulation and tax reform.

The bigger problem with the $854 billion CR just passed by the House, and awaiting the President’s signature, is that it only covers spending from now until December. Such means that by the time we get the full 2019 budget funded, with the annual automatic increases still in place, we will be looking at more than $2 Trillion in annual spending. Such will require further increases in debt issuance at a time when there are potentially fewer buys of Treasuries readily available.

As shown in the chart below, with the major Central Banks reducing their balance sheets simultaneously, some of the more major buyers are being removed from the market.

“Central bank balance sheets have shrunk by over half-a-trillion dollars since March. This decrease in global liquidity – in the face of a global slowdown – raises the risk of policy mistakes much higher than is commonly assumed.” – ECRI

More importantly, next year, sequester-level budget caps will return. The last time budget-caps came into play Ben Bernanke launched QE-3 to offset the economic drag from reduced government spending. Given Central Banks are effectively “out of the game” for now, it is most likely Congress will just bust the budget and then spin it as a “Conservative victory” as they did this year.

As the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget previously stated:

  • Debt Is Rising Unsustainably

  • Spending Is Growing Faster Than Revenue

  • Recent Legislation Will Substantially Worsen the Long-Term Outlook if Extended. 

  • High And Rising Debt Will Have Adverse and Potentially Dangerous Consequences (Will lead to another financial crisis.)

  • Major Trust Funds Are Headed Toward Insolvency. 

  • Fixing the Debt Will Get Harder the Longer Policymakers Wait. 

While the CRFB suggests that lawmakers need to work together to address this bleak fiscal picture now so problems do not compound any further, there is little hope that such will actually be the case given the deep partisanship currently running the country.

As I have stated before, choices will have to be made either by choice or force.

The CRFB agrees with my assessment.

“CBO continues to remind us what we’ve known for a while and seem to be ignoring: the federal budget is on an unsustainable course, particularly over the long term. If policymakers make the tough decisions now – rather than wait until there’s a crisis point for action – the solutions will be fairer and less painful.”

Just something to think about as you catch up on your weekend reading list.

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