Lacy Hunt kicks things off with a bang in Hoisington's Quarterly Review and Outlook, this week's Outside the Box:
"The standard of living of the average American continues to fall."
The reason, in a word: debt. Lacy explains what happens:
"Efforts by fiscal and monetary authorities to sustain growth by further debt accumulation may produce some short-term benefit. Sadly, these interludes fade quickly as the debt becomes more destabilizing. The net result of increased indebtedness then becomes the opposite of what policymakers intend when they promote economic growth by either borrowing funds for increased government expenditures or encourage consumers to borrow with artificial and temporary incentives."
In other words, you can't get to real, sustained growth of an economy by growing debt after a certain point –one that, sadly, we have already reached.
It gets worse, because, since 2009, private debt-to-GDP has fallen while government debt-to-GDP has surged. And, as Lacy notes, "United States government spending carries a zero expenditure multiplier, as do operating expenditures of state and local governments. Thus, each dollar spent by the federal government creates no sustainable income, yet the interest payment incurred with each borrowed dollar creates a subtraction from future revenue streams of the private sector."
That is, unproductive government debt is killing us. So what gives? It's simple: we either make some big, tough collective decisions, and make them soon; or we come to the "bang point" documented by Reinhart and Rogoff, where the bond market no longer believes the US will pay its bills. Europe and Japan will get there before we do, but the writing is on the wall: we must get our national-deficit act together.
I am doing a road show for Bloomberg in San Francisco, with 8 meetings today and a few more tomorrow. Bloomberg is marketing a very high-end new service called Mauldin Research Trades. My partners Gary Habib and Peter Mauthe have assembled an all-star team of technical trading analysts (who between them have written about 20 books on technical trading), who give us "conviction" trades each and every week. We publish the letter on Sunday evening. I am very pleased with the results so far. If you are interested, contact your Bloomberg Tradebook representative or drop me a note and we will get them in touch with you.
Tonight is dinner with real estate maven John Burns, where I am sure I will pick up a few new insights (I always do with John). Then I'm off to north of Denver for a day, then back home before I fly down to Austin over the weekend to be with Lacy Hunt at his long-delayed wedding reception where the iconic Texas band Asleep at the Wheel will be playing. Lots of friends there at a must-not-miss evening.
And Join me next Tuesday morning in Philadelphia at The 30th Annual Monetary & Trade Conference: Demographics, Politics, and Economic Growth, sponsored by the Global Interdependence Center (click on program title to register). It will be very informative.
Have a great week! I see some great food and conversation in my life in the next few hours.
Your worried about ever more debt analyst,
John Mauldin, Editor
Outside the Box
Hoisington First-Quarter Review and Outlook
The standard of living of the average American continues to fall. Real median household income today is near the same level as it was fifteen years ago, a remarkable statistic since the debt to GDP ratio is 100 points higher (Chart 1). The cause of this deterioration in living standards can be traced to the excessive accumulation of debt,…