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AS Masih Akan Hidup Di Luar Kemampuannya

January 24th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

“It took the United States 193 years (1789-1981) to aggregate $1 trillion of government debt.  It then took 20 years (1981-2001) to add an additional $4.8 trillion and, in the last 10 years (2001-2011), a whopping $9.8 trillion has been added to the federal debt.  Since 1981, the US increased its sovereign debt by 1,560% while its population increased by only 35%…”

-Kyle Bass

“Some debts are fun when you are acquiring them, but none are fun when you set about retiring them.”

-Ogden Nash

Saya mengalami kelelahan dalam 3 hari terakhir ini, oleh karenanya laporan saya kali ini agak singkat.  Isi utamanya mengenai ‘debt ceiling’, atau batas legal dana yang dapat dipinjam pemerintah AS, yang tentunya akan meningkat.

Meskipun tampaknya Partai Republik dan Demokrat tidak mau kompromi – Republik menuntut pemotongan belanja besar sedangkan Demokrat lebih memilih kenaikan pajak – kesepakatan pun dicapai pada menit-menit terakhir. Pada akhirnya, ini hanya akan menjadi drama politik lain yang membosankan yang kemudian diselesaikan dengan bisnis seperti biasanya.

Sebagai informasi untuk Anda, kementerian keuangan AS telah mengatakan bahwa debt ceiling (plafon utang) AS yang akan dibahas sejak pertengahan Februari hingga awal Maret mendatang dapat melampaui $16,4 trilyun.  Sejak tahun 1960, Kongres AS telah menaikkan ataupun merevisi plafon utang AS sebanyak 79 kali, termasuk 49 kali yang dilakukan di bawah presiden dari partai Republik, demikian menurut data kementerian keuangan AS.

Isu terakhir yang berkembang memberikan indikasi bahwa ada potensi kenaikan plafon utang AS karena pihak Republik tidak berkonfrontasi lebih lanjut dengan kebijakan fiskal Obama.  Mereka sedang bersiap untuk memberikan pemerintah AS cukup uang untuk menjalankan operasionalnya dalam 3 bulan ke depan tanpa pemangkasan anggaran belanja.

Salah satu pertanyaan yang ada di benak banyak orang saat ini adalah seberapa JAUH krisis hutang AS sudah terlewati saat ini.  Mari temukan jawabannya dalam sejumlah paragraf berikut, yang ditulis oleh Chris Ferreira dan awalnya dirilis di Economic Reason blog:

“The implications of the US debt crisis are not well understood in most circles, and it is not widely spoken about in the media and during important political debates. The irony is that the US debt is so significant that it plays a monumental role in finance and modern political strategy. The debt poses great risks moving forward, and yet it is referred to in only the vaguest of terms.

Here is why the US debt must grow every year and why it is mathematically impossible for it to continue forever.

Before we can understand why the debt must grow every year, here is is a visual representation, to scale, of how much the current debt is standing at. Each tall uniform column in the background of the picture below refers to a pile of $100 bills stacked one on top of another. Each “tower of debt” consists of 10 x 10 fork-lift palettes that reach out into the sky and are higher than the old World Trade Center buildings. These towers of debt represent $US 16.394 trillion. However, by the time you wake up to read this, it will be larger than that. DemonOcracy does great work on visual representation of the US debt levels.

Why did the US debt grow to these proportions?

Short answer: the US government spends more than what it receives in revenue. In 2012, the US federal government expects to receive $2.5 trillion in revenue, while the total spending carried out by the federal government is $3.8 trillion. The difference ($1.3 trillion) is debt piled onto of the previous debt.

To put $1.3 trillion into context, it is approximately $3,56 billion a day. To make matters worse, the current debt does not take into consideration federal obligations such as social security, Medicare, pension, and retiree health promises. According to David Walker, former controller of the US, when these unfunded programs are added to the enormous debt, it stands at $70 trillion and growing–that is $10 million per minute!

Seventy trillion dollars is over four times the debt in the picture on your left, dwarfing the current US GDP; in fact, it is approximately the world’s annual GDP in 2011. For a current view of the US debt, see the debt clock here.

The government allows for the debt to continue to grow by adding new debt on top of old debt plus compounded interest. Instead of paying back the debt, the government just borrows more to cover previous interest. The interest payments on the debt is over $1 billion a day. When “Uncle Sam” takes out a loan, it is called a bond (I.O.U.). These bonds are purchased by investors, banks, and foreigners. These bonds are a promise to pay capital plus interest. What “Uncle Sam” does, essentially, is pay his investors with his credit card and create new loans to cover interest.

Talk about short-sighted finances with no discipline.

Compounded interest has allowed the debt to grow exponentially, and has reached, in my opinion, unsustainable levels where the debt is reaching at the vertical portion of the “hockey stick” formation.”

Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.

- Albert Einstein

Berikutnya adalah Tyler Durden dari www.zerohedge.com yang baru-baru ini berusaha menghitung dampak perubahan tingkat bunga sebesar 1% terhadap total hutang AS pada tahun 2022.  Dengan kata lain, dirinya merasa perlu menggunakan kekuatan perhitungan tersebut sebagai cara magisnya untuk melihat prospek masa depan… (Petunjuk: Anda mungkin akan terkejut oleh kemungkinan level hutang di masa depan!):

“They say “be careful what you wish for”, and they are right. Because, in the never-ending story of the American “recovery” which, sadly, never comes (although in its place we keep getting now semiannual iterations of Quantitative Easing), the one recurring theme we hear over and over and over is to wait for the great rotation out of bonds and into stocks. Well, fine. Let it come. The question is what then and what happens to the US economy when rates do, finally and so overdue (for all those sell side analysts and media who have been a broken record on the topic for the past 3 years), go up. To answer just that question, which in a country that is currently at 103% debt/GDP and which will be at 109% by the end of 2013, we have decided to ignore the CBO’s farcical models and come up with our own. Our model is painfully simple, and just to give our readers a hands on feel, we have opened up the excel file for everyone to tinker with (however, unlike the CBO, we do realize that when calculating average interest, one needs to have circular references enabled so please do that before you open the model).

Our assumptions are also painfully simple:

i) grow 2012 year end GDP of ~$16 trillion at what is now widely accepted as the ‘New Normal’ 1.5% growth rate (this can be easily adjusted in the model);

ii) assume the primary deficit is a conservative and generous 6% of GDP because America will never, repeat never, address the true cause of soaring deficits: i.e., spending, which will only grow in direct proportion with demographics but as we said, we are being generous (also adjustable), and

iii) sensitize for 3 interest rate scenarios: 2% blended cash interest; 3% blended cash interest and 5% blended cash interest.

And it is here that we get a reminder of a very key lesson, one that even the CBO admitted on Friday they had forgotten about, in what compounding truly looks like in a country that is far beyond the Reinhart-Rogoff critical threshold of 80% sovereign debt/GDP.

The bottom line: going from just 2% to 3% interest, will result in total 2022 debt rising from $31.4 trillion to $34.1 trillion; while “jumping” from 2% to just the long term historical average of 5%, would push total 2022 debt to increase by a whopping $9 trillion over the 2% interest rate base case to over $40 trillion in total debt!

Sadly, this is no “magic” – this is the reality that awaits the US.

And for those more curious about that other critical economic indicator, debt/GDP, the three scenarios result in the following 2022 debt/GDP ratios:

  • 2% interest – 169%;
  • 3% interest – 183.5%; and
  • 5% interest – 217%, or just shy of where Japan is now.

Which reminds us: in the next few days we will recreate the same exercise for Japan’s ¥1 quadrillion in total sovereign debt, which will show why any more “exuberance” arising from Abe’s latest economic lunacy, will promptly send the country spiraling into that twilight zone where every dollar in tax revenue is used only to fund interest expense.

Once again, it is not our intention to predict what US GDP or debt/GDP will be in 2022: only the IMF can do that with decimal level precision, apparently, and not just with anyone, but Greece. The whole point is to show that when dealing with a debt trap lasting a decade, even the tiniest change in input conditions has profound implications on the final outcome. We invite readers to come up with their own wacky and wonderful projections of what the futures of the US may look like.

And that one should, indeed, be careful what one wishes for.

The results summarized for the three scenarios:

Total debt: 2013-2022.

Debt/GDP: 2013-2022:

The Zero Hedge open source model, for everyone to play around with, can be found here. Remember: don’t be a CBO, enable circs!”

P.S. don’t even think of modelling a recession: everything Refs up then.

Hanya untuk memastikan bahwa kita mampu menempatkan debat debt ceiling dalam perspektif yang benar, berikut adalah sejumlah pandangan yang lebih jelas mengenai ‘the debt’ oleh Simon Black dari Sovereign Man blog:

“If you haven’t heard yet, the United States of America just hit $16 trillion in debt yesterday. On a gross, nominal basis, this makes the US, by far, the greatest debtor in the history of the world.

It took the United States government over 200 years to accumulate its first trillion dollars of debt. It took only 286 days to accumulate the most recent trillion dollars of debt. 200 years vs. 286 days. This portends two key points:

  1. Anyone who thinks that inflation doesn’t exist is a complete idiot;
  2. To say that the trend is unsustainable is a massive understatement.

At an average interest rate of 2.130%, Uncle Sam will shuffle $340 billion out the door just in interest payments this year… and it’s a number that’s only going up. To put it in context, China owns so much US debt that the INTEREST INCOME they receive from the Treasury Department is nearly enough to fund their entire military budget.

It’s rather disgusting when you think about it.

Yet when you look at the raw numbers, there is no sign of improvement anywhere on the horizon. Last year, the Treasury Department brought in about $2.3 trillion in tax revenue. They spent $2.9 trillion JUST on -mandatory- programs like Social Security and Medicare, plus the very sacrosanct defense budget.

In other words, the US government was $600 billion dollars in the hole before paying a dime of interest on the debt, or paying the light bill at the White House. In fact the government’s own numbers reflect a budget deficit through the end of the decade, i.e. the debt level is only going to get higher. These are their own figures.

In the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire was facing a similar debt crisis. In just 11-years, the Ottoman central government went from spending 17% of its tax revenue on interest payments, to spending over 52% of its tax revenue on interest payments. Then came default. Eleven years. The US is at 15% right now. How long will it take for the interest burden to become unbearable?

History is full of examples of superpowers bucking under the weight of their debt. This is not the first time that it’s happened, and it won’t be the last.

Sovereign debt is a giant confidence game. Investors buy bonds on the belief that governments can (and will) pay. When that confidence is chipped away, the cost of capital becomes debilitating. And people tend to notice a $16 trillion debt burden.

This is banana republic stuff, plain and simple… and smart, thinking people ought to be planning on capital controls, wage and price controls, pension confiscation, and selective default. Because the next trillion will be here before you know it.”

Terakhir adalah Bill Buckler, penulis The Privateer, yang menjelaskan dasar dari kesemuanya dalam artikelnya berikut:

“To put the magnitude of the current global fiscal and financial profligacy in perspective, The Privateer has in the past made use of a simple illustration. As the “fiscal cliff” looms and as the Treasury’s debt “subject to limit” grows to about $US 60 Billion below that “limit”, we make the point again.

How is it possible for a nation of almost 100 million people to survive – and indeed prosper exceedingly – when the government of that nation has a TOTAL debt of about $US 2 Billion? That question is asked in the context of today. Today, that same nation has a population of a bit more than 300 million people and is “run” by a government whose funded debts approach $US 16,400 Billion and whose TOTAL debts (funded and unfunded) are in excess of $US 200,000 Billion? That is the record of the US over the past century. Its population has tripled. Its government debt has grown by a factor of 100,000.

Which – IN REALITY – is the prosperous nation? Is it the US of 1912 or the US of 2012? Which – IN REALITY – is the nation whose citizens can look confidently towards a future in which their progeny will enjoy the fruits of their parents’ labour WITHOUT being indentured to their parents’ profligacy? Which is the nation that has not yet embarked on currency debasement and which is the nation that is nearing the inevitable end of that same road? Everybody knows the answers to these questions too.”

Last but not least Egon von Greyerz, who is the founder and managing partner at Matterhorn Asset Management, explains why the debt bomb will explode in the future and what we can do to keep our current wealth intact:

“Everyone in the world is in despair over what is happening in Europe, but let’s look at the US.  The US is a ticking time bomb of a much larger magnitude than Europe.  The US will continue to spend and run up the deficits.  The debt is up to more than $16 trillion, and I think in the next few years we are going to see the debt going up almost exponentially.

The US, like many parts of the world, has had a false prosperity built on debt.  The total debt including government, private, banking, etc. is at least $60 trillion.  When you add to that the unfunded liabilities, together they will be at least $70 trillion.  So now you are up to $130 trillion of debt and liabilities.

US derivatives, the official figure for the largest banks in the US, the total is roughly $250 trillion.  If the numbers were correctly reported, I believe the derivatives figure would be closer to $400 trillion.

So when you add in derivatives, the US has over a staggering $500 trillion of risk.  You have to remember that’s at zero interest rates.  Just look at the recent JP Morgan fiasco, the enormous risk that these derivatives represent.  So you are talking about $500 trillion against a GDP of around $15 trillion.

The leverage and debt in the US system is absolutely massive.  The risk is enormous.  The US has just been fortunate to have the focus be on Europe for quite some time.  Soon the US will have the spotlight shined on it, and one day these derivatives will unravel.

I have consistently told people for over a decade to put up to 50% of their money into physical gold stored outside of the banking system.  I now believe investors should consider putting even more of their liquid assets into physical gold.  In my view this is the best way to protect against the risks the financial system faces today, and the chaos that is still in front of us.”

Agar tetap ceria, di akhir laporan ini saya ketengahkan sejumlah gambar kartun lucu mengenai hutang AS yang meningkat secara eksponensial:

Dibuat Tanggal 21 Januari 2013

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