Hold That Federal Reserve Printing Press . . . Something Isn’t Adding Up

Jennifer Rubin05.04.2009 

The New York Times has figured out there is a little glitch in Obama’s economic scheme:

As the Obama administration racks up an unprecedented spending bill for bank bailouts, Detroit rescues, health care overhauls and stimulus plans, the bond market is starting to push up the cost of trillions of dollars in borrowing for the government.

Last week, the yield on 10-year Treasury notes rose to its highest level since November, briefly touching 3.17 percent, a sign that investors are demanding larger returns on the masses of United States debt being issued to finance an economic recovery.

That sounds like a retread of the 1970s — high interest rates and high unemployment. And, yes, this is what the Tea Party protesters (the unwashed masses the New York Times tried to ignore) were complaining about. You cannot borrow and borrow with no end:

The trouble is that government borrowing risks crowding out private investment, driving up interest rates and potentially slowing a recovery still trying to take hold. That is why the Federal Reserve announced an extraordinary policy this year to buy back existing long-term debt — $300 billion over six months — to drive down yields. The strategy worked for a while, but now the impact of that decision appears to be wearing off as long-term interest rates tick up again.

Then there is the concern that the interest the government must pay on its debt obligations may become unsustainable or weigh on future generations. The Congressional Budget Office expects interest payments to more than quadruple in the next decade as Washington borrows and spends, to $806 billion by 2019 from $172 billion next year.

It seems there is an inescapable reality, despite the government’s efforts to get “creative”: our ability to borrow is not infinite and the fiscal irresponsibility many (including some in the president’s own party) railed against has its price. In the end, no amount of political spin can convince bond purchasers to soak up all the red ink gushing from the U.S. budget.

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