US Debt: Look At It This Way

By: Adrian Ash | Fri, Jan 15, 2010
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Seven ways to put the United States' national debt into perspective...

The SHEER SIZE of the US government's debt hasn't put off new bond buyers so far in 2010.

You've got to wonder what kind of news - or debt - it might take to deter them.

In just two days this week, the Treasury issued $61 billion in new debt - twice as much money as Japanese households put into their domestic equity funds during all of 2009, itself a 50% jump from 2008.

Yet one "big bidder" still opted to lend the federal government one fifth of that sum, according to bond analysts speaking to the Financial Times at least. And overall, the government's creditors offered to lend Washington three times the money it sought.

Now, if the Treasury didn't need that $61,000,000,000 to cover 6.3 days of spending, the money raised in new bonds between Tuesday and Wednesday this week could cover 12 days of interest due on the outstanding debt, already running above $12.3 trillion and outweighing the market value of every company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Put another way, the United States national debt is greater than the GDP forecast this year for Japan, China, Brazil and Canada added together. (That's excluding the $107 trillion of unfunded liabilities yet to come, of course.) If today's lenders ever see their money again, they could just about buy all the gold ever mined in history - all 165,500 tonnes of the stuff - twice over at today's prices.

Or they could simply pay twice today's gold price, of course.

Repaying the US national debt looks a struggle, however. Settling $1 per second - rather than racking up an extra $37,132 every second, as the federal government's scheduled to do in 2010 - would take until the start of February A.D. 392,372. Settled for cash, and piled up in $1 bills, the current US debt would reach to the moon...and back...and back to the moon again...and then round the moon's equator ten or perhaps 20 times, depending on how much you squashed them.

Or to put the US national debt into historical perspective - a very historical perspective - the US government has borrowed the equivalent of $2.46 each and every day since the beginning of time...last computed to have occurred some 12.7 billion years ago, back when $2.46 really meant something.

For creationists sticking with Archbishop Ussher, that's $2 billion per year since God said "Let there be light"...back when fiat really meant something, too.

And lo! The bond market still kept on buying.

 


 

Adrian Ash

Author: Adrian Ash

Adrian Ash
BullionVault.com

Formerly City correspondent for The Daily Reckoning in London and head of editorial at the UK's leading financial advisory for private investors, Adrian Ash is the head of research at BullionVault, where you can buy gold today vaulted in Zurich on $3 spreads and 0.8% dealing fees.

About BullionVault

BullionVault is the secure, low-cost gold and silver exchange for private investors. It enables you to buy and sell professional-grade bullion at live prices online, storing your physical property in market-accredited, non-bank vaults in London, New York and Zurich.

By February 2011, less than six years after launch, more than 21,000 people from 97 countries used BullionVault, owning well over 21 tonnes of physical gold (US$940m) and 140 tonnes of physical silver (US$129m) as their outright property. There is no minimum investment and users can deal as little as one gram at a time. Each user's unique holding is proven, each day, by the public reconciliation of client property with formal bullion-market bar lists.

BullionVault is a full member of professional trade body the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA). Its innovative online platform was recognized in 2009 by the UK's prestigious Queen's Awards for Enterprise. In June 2010, the gold industry's key market-development body the World Gold Council (www.gold.org) joined with the internet and technology fund Augmentum Capital, which is backed by the London listed Rothschild Investment Trust (RIT Capital Partners), in making an $18.8 million (£12.5m) investment in the business.

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Source: The Contrarian Take http://blogs.forbes.com/michaelpollaro/
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