The Great Disconnect: United States Debt Vs. Growth
Stock markets are now trading at new all time highs. Last week, the Federal Reserve announced that they would not cut their current $85 billion a month QE-3 program. In other words, the central bank to the United States wants to keep interest rates extremely low in order to boost the U.S. economy. They also continue to buy mortgage backed securities and U.S. treasuries to keep the recent housing boom intact. Some members of the Federal Reserve such as Richard Fisher have strongly opposed the action by the Federal Reserve, but that does not seem to change the fact that the central bank's balance sheet is now around $4 trillion. That is a lot of money printing over the past five years and it is still growing.
Next, there is the United States debt ceiling debate between President Obama and the U.S. Congress that is heating up. The U.S. debt has climbed to $16.95 trillion. Many individuals will blame President Obama for the large increase in debt, but in all fairness every U.S. president has raised the debt ceiling. The only thing that could bring down the current U.S. debt would be economic growth, but unfortunately when a country grows at 2.0 percent a year it is very difficult to bring down the U.S. debt in a meaningful way.
The number of people in the United States receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) is now just over 47 million. Then there is the money spent on wars and other conflicts, some experts say that the Iraq war cost over $3 trillion alone. Is all of this spending by the United States government ever going to stop? How can a country in so much debt continue to spend money it does not have?
At this time, that does not seem to matter. The stock markets remains at or near all time highs. The markets do not seem to be worried about the weak U.S. economy, the debt, the people on public assistance, or the wars. When the stock market starts to panic that will be the time to worry that the problems are becoming to big too handle. Remember, the warning signs that told us that the housing and credit bubble was about to burst started to show up late 2005 when the housing stocks topped out, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average did not top out until October 2007. At that time, the central bankers were telling us that there were no problems on the horizon, but we all know now that the great recession was already underway despite the calming words from Ben Bernanke and the central bankers. Right now we are looking at the great disconnect, but everyone should just trade until the market tells us otherwise.