9 oktober 2013

beurs moet politici eerst lesje leren voor ze tot inkeer komen

Politici in de VS denken eerst aan hun herverkiezing, niet aan het welzijn van het land. De beurs kijkt er wat anders tegenaan. Als politici zo graag het slechtste voor hebben met het land, dan kunnen ze dat krijgen. De beurs moet eerst zo veel onderuit totdat ze bang worden voor herverkiezing.

Diverse republikeinse politici, vooral van de Tea Pot pluimage, zien alleen maar goede kanten aan het niet verhogen van de debt ceiling. Gewoon de overheidsuitgaven scalperen, wat is er nog mooier. Die klaplopers die uitkeringen nodig hebben, gewoon pech gehad vinden ze.

Wat gevaarlijker is, dat zijn de nodige gematigde republikeinen die denken dat uitstel van de verhoging van het schuldenplafond niet zo'n ramp is, omdat ze een wet hebben goedgekeurd die voorrang geeft aan de betaling van rente en aflossing van de overheidsschulden en betaling van uitkeringen,

Dat geeft uiteraard ellende voor de overheidsuitgaven die dan zouden overblijven.

Belangrijk is dat er ineens tegengas wordt gegeven: die voorrang van de betaling van overheidsschulden is onhaalbaar. Dat leidt tot een default.
§  Matthew Yglesias: Four Reasons Debt Ceiling Breach Means Default
This is what’s known among debt ceiling junkies as “payment prioritization”—you use cash on hand to keep paying interest and rolling over the principal on the national debt, while letting Medicare reimbursements or salaries for FBI agents slide. Here are four problems with the idea, according to the Treasury Department:

1.     It’s illegal: Treasury is not authorized to unilaterally decide to pay certain bills and not others. If it were, the constitutional order would completely collapse. Obama could just not cut the checks for farm subsidies or missile defense programs he opposes. Then in a few years President Ted Cruz could refuse to pay SNAP benefits.

2.     It’s also impossible: Because payment prioritization is illegal, Treasury’s payment system is not designed to allow prioritization to happen. Cardiff Garcia has an in-depth roundup of coverage of this angle, but the best simple explanation comes from the Treasury inspector general, who explains that on a technical level, the systems “are designed to make each payment in the order it comes due.” Of course systems could always be changed. But look at all the problems Health and Human Services is having in getting the Affordable Care Act computer systems to work. They can’t just whip up an entirely new computer system in the next two weeks. (And, of course, given the government shutdown, it would be illegal for them to hire someone to try.)

3.     The timing doesn’t work: Over a given year, the Treasury certainly collects more in taxes than it pays in interest. But that’s not necessarily true on any given day. Most days the Treasury doesn’t pay any interest. Then on some days large interest bills come due. To prioritize interest payments, you would need to not pay certain bills the Treasury does have enough cash on hand to pay in order to stockpile money for future interest payments. That further exacerbates problem Nos. 1 and 2.

4.     Prioritization doesn’t solve the problem: Even if all these problems could be waived away, you’re not really solving the underlying problem. Yes, bondholders would still get their money. But nobody in the future could seriously treat U.S. government debt as a risk-free information-insensitive asset. It would become just another speculative play whose odds of working out would depend on your assessment of the ups and downs of American politics. Making the interest payments would somewhat mitigate the ensuing financial crisis, but would by no means eliminate it.

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