Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Frightening US Deficits

Peter Degraaf of Kitco shows the following chart of US deficits since 1900. Degraaf obtained the chart from the St. Louis Fed. It does not appear that these numbers are corrected for inflation (that is, they reflect nominal rather than real dollars) and therefore understate the debt during World War II. However, the graph paints a frightening picture. Those who have faith in the Fed's or the banking system's ability to "mop up" (whatever that rather odd phrase, which has been used by numerous Fed advocates and apologists, really means) newly created money might be able to describe precedents for the current situation and examples of how central banks performed well. There are numerous examples of how past central banks have performed badly, of course. I do not believe that there are many where central banks, including the performance of the Fed in the 1930s and the 1970s, long performed well.

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