Archive for June, 2009

Jun 05 2009

Welker’s daily links 06/04/2009

Published by under Daily Links

  • On Wednesday last week, yields on 10-year US Treasuries – generally seen as the benchmark for long-term interest rates – rose above 3.73 per cent. Once upon a time that would have been considered rather low. But the financial crisis has changed all that: at the end of last year, the yield on the 10-year fell to 2.06 per cent. In other words, long-term rates have risen by 167 basis points in the space of five months. In relative terms, that represents an 81 per cent jump.

    Most commentators were unnerved by this development, coinciding as it did with warnings about the fiscal health of the US. For me, however, it was good news. For it settled a rather public argument between me and the Princeton economist Paul Krugman.

    It is a brave or foolhardy man who picks a fight with Mr Krugman, the most recent recipient of the Nobel Prize for Economics. Yet a cat may look at a king, and sometimes a historian can challenge an economist.

    tags: economics

  • Is the US (and a number of other high-income countries) on the road to fiscal Armageddon? Are recent jumps in government bond rates proof that investors are worried about fiscal prospects? My answers to these questions are: No and No. This does not mean there is no reason for worry. It is rather that there are powerful arguments against fiscal retrenchment right now and strong reasons for welcoming recent moves in the bond markets.

    Last week, the Financial Times carried two columns arguing that the US fiscal path was unsustainable, one by Stanford University’s John Taylor and the other by the Harvard historian Niall Ferguson. The latter, in turn, was a comment on a debate with, among others, the New York Times columnist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman at the end of April.

    On one point all serious analysts agree: public debt cannot rise, relative to gross domestic product, without limit. To embark on fiscal stimulus in the short run, one must be credible in the long run.

    So what is the disagreement? Prof Ferguson made three propositions: first, the recent rise in US government bond rates shows that the bond market is “quailing” before the government’s huge issuance; second, huge fiscal deficits are both unnecessary and counterproductive; and, finally, there is reason to fear an inflationary outcome. These are widely held views. Are they right?

    The first point is, on the evidence, wrong.

    tags: economics

  • tags: economics

  • Biggest Holders of US Gov’t Debt

    As the US government spends an unprecedented amount of money to fix the nation’s economy, there is an equally great need to raise the cash to pay for it. This is accomplished through borrowing, whereby Uncle Sam sells Treasury securities of varying maturity.

    For investors, the government bills, notes and bonds are considered a safe financial product because they have a guaranteed rate of return, based on faith in future US tax revenues. The government has been partially funding operations via Treasury securities for decades. This borrowing adds to the national debt, which is now above $11 trillion and is rising every day. Much of that debt is held by private sector, but about 40 percent is held by public entities, including parts of the government. Here’s who owns the most.

    tags: economics

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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