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Debt Death Spiral Watch

Saturday November 29th, 2014   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 11:05am PST   •  

14174434_S CNSNews’ Terence Jeffrey just happened to read the Daily Treasury Statement released by the U.S. Treasury Department on the day before Thanksgiving. Here’s what he found (we’ve added the notes in parentheses to make the very large numbers easier to express):

The Daily Treasury Statement that was released Wednesday afternoon as Americans were preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving revealed that the U.S. Treasury has been forced to issue $1,040,965,000,000 ($1.041 trillion) in new debt since fiscal 2015 started just eight weeks ago in order to raise the money to pay off Treasury securities that were maturing and to cover new deficit spending by the government.

During those eight weeks, Treasury took in $341,591,000,000 ($341.6 billion) in revenues. That was a record for the period between Oct. 1 and Nov. 25. But that record $341,591,000,000 ($341.6 billion) in revenues was not enough to finance ongoing government spending let alone pay off old debt that matured.

The Treasury also drew down its cash balance by $45.057 billion during the period, starting with $126,568,000,000 ($126.6 billion) in cash and ending with $81,511,000,000 ($81.5 billion).

The only way the Treasury could handle the $942,103,000,000 ($942.1 billion) in old debt that matured during the period plus finance the new deficit spending the government engaged in was to roll over the old debt into new debt and issue enough additional new debt to cover the new deficit spending.

During that same period of time, from the end of the federal government’s 2014 fiscal year on September 30, 2014 through the day before Thanksgiving, November 25, 2014, the total public debt outstanding for the U.S. government increased by $139,862,237,233.44 ($139.9 billion) to $17,963,753,617,957.26 (nearly $18 trillion), which represents the net new debt that the U.S. government has accumulated. Which is, of course, on top of the $942.1 billion worth of old debt that was rolled over.

We’ve projected that the total public debt outstanding of the U.S. government will grow to exceed $18 trillion sometime in the next two weeks.

Speaking of which, Jeffrey makes a special note about the way the U.S. government’s debt is structured, with very little set up to mature after 30 years, which is something that would be desirable considering how low interest rates are today. Instead, about 88% of all the marketable debt issued by the U.S. government is set to mature after much lower periods of time, with about 10% set to mature in less than one year, when almost all of it will be rolled over. Again.

The continual rolling over of these short-term, low-interest bills helped drive over the $1-trillion mark the new debt the Treasury had to issue in the first eight weeks of this fiscal year.

The Treasury has taken out what amounts to an adjustable-rate mortgage on our ever-growing national debt.

If the Treasury were forced to convert the $1.4 trillion in short-term bills (on which it now pays an average interest rate of 0.056 percent) into 30-year bonds at the average rate it is now paying on such bonds (4.919 percent) the interest on that $1.4 trillion in debt would increase 88-fold.

That is the stuff of which a national debt death spiral would be made!

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November 2014