Looming “Debt Hangover” Will Crush The Economy

Rusty Tweed

Rusty Tweed

A time will come when the U.S will inevitably have a debt hangover, it may not be the coming week or next month, but it will soon come. The continued effects of continued lowering of the tax-revenue, government spending, always-increasing interest payments, and increasing compulsory welfare payments will soon be felt, and that is a feeling that will not be a pleasant one.

How we got here

The current national U.S debt that is publicly held is 75% of the GDP. Although that number can be shocking to the average citizen, to economists, they see this number as a good figure. Before the recession of 2008, the national public debt in the U.S was at 35% of the GDP. Over the last decade, the debt has grown by 40%. Why is that the case?

The answer lies in government spending. The U.S government decided that the only way to get out of the recession was to spend. This was championed by the Federal Reserve and a handful of economists who encouraged monetary and fiscal authorities to continue deficit spending and issue more debt to institutions and individuals or borrow in order to spend. That decision worked, but some people argue that there was not enough money that has been spent.

The impact of debt hangover in the U.S economy

Currently, the U.S is undergoing low unemployment rates and a long period of growth that has never been seen in the history of the country. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it was highlighted that by the year 2047, while maintaining the same trend of fiscal policy, the U.S debt ratio will linger around 150% of the GDP. Imagine what is happening between Italy and Greece happening in the U.S; that is how bad the situation can get for the U.S.

The World Bank has put up estimates that every percentage point that goes above the debt to GDP ratio of 77% would lead to a decline in the annual growth by 17 basis points. This can translate to a loss of 12% of the growth of GDP in the next 30 years. Looking at it in another perspective, it would mean that the U.S economy will have stopped growing for over four years.

If you think that is the only consequence of the existing fiscal policy, you are wrong. The flexibility that Congress has on implementing expansionary fiscal policy in economic downturns will be less. Investors will be in need of higher rates of interest to be able to invest in an economy that is increasingly becoming volatile.

When the cycle of net interest payment increases and higher interest rates are resent, the result will be a net interest payment that will eclipse other major spending programs by 2047. If we decide to look at Medicare and Social Security, it will require large investments to keep the short-term solvency.

What the economists say

There are economists who argue that if the economy could be spurred faster than the compounding interest payments, and it ignores entitlement programs, then things would be okay. But spending is not the issue; the problem rests on the revenue and the GOP tax plans which do not help.

The GOP tax plan economics is not hard. When you talk to the Keynesian economists, they would argue that the tax cuts spur economic growth and stimulate the economy. But most of the economists are not supporting the tax plan and the basis behind it, especially when you look at the current economic status. Cutting taxes is not something that is needed at this time.

Most economists believe that the lack of tax revenue will increase the chances of a financial crisis. Estimates by the Dynamic CBO propose that the growth of the GDP due to tax cuts will be dismal and will be below the required levels that are to mitigate the impact of an increased portion of the U.S national debt to GDP.

At the moment, the U.S government is not armed with the right tools to deal with the debt hangover that is looming. Within the next decade, the economy will still maintain the healthy standards. The U.S will not be bothered by the impacts of the existing fiscal policy until the time when it is too late.

The GOP tax plan consequences should not be understated, and it was not only the tax plan that placed the U.S in this state. There needs to be an implementation of reforms that will alleviate the impending consequences of the existing fiscal policy. But sadly, the changes in policy that are needed do not appeal politically.

Revenue needs to be raised by the Congress, and spending should be cut without impacting Medicare and Social Security. There are a number of options that the CBO provides, and they are 115 in total. These options are meant to control discretionary and mandatory spending and stimulate revenue.

How Demographics Will Be The Biggest Driver Of Financial Markets

The world where the financial markets are vastly used by professionals of older age is long gone. In the midst of the workforce getting younger almost daily, one can now witness anything from a retirement account to highly-complex investments being made by people in their twenties. Not to forget that it has been over 70 years since the first Baby Boomers came to the world. With that entire generation growing older, their input in the financial market is thinning and most principles of investing conservatism are slowly getting replaced with high-risk individuals who are not afraid to make unlikely purchases.

Age is an Important Factor

Throughout history, the trend of people who would achieve the level of financial freedom that enables them to make humongous investment used to be no less than 40. That is because the working industry was set up in a manner that requires someone to dedicate at least a decade and a half to collect enough promotions and bonuses to have any noticeable capital. Well, by analyzing the markets in the present, one can easily recognize countless popular individuals who achieved stardom through financial success while only in their twenties. This is something that did not happen with many generations in the 20th century as the world was battling innumerable issues that had to be prioritized. Just considering the fact that World War I, World War II, Cold War, and much more happened in the 1900s makes it perfectly logical that there was no time for young entrepreneurs to test their luck in the investing waters. Consequently, this reverse aging is making the financial markets more approachable. The long-lived stigmas and stereotypes of people who are deemed under the expected age to invest are no longer around. Meaning, one’s decisions and willingness to indulge their financial passions will be judged solely on merit, not on various external factors like age.

Globalization

One of the most important trends that are taking place is known as the globalization. The term covers everything from people migrating across the planet to economies spreading around different countries without interruption. For example, investors would seldom have opportunities to engage in trades with other countries during the 19th or even the 20th century. With so much international conflict and almost non-existent technology for personal use, reaching foreign industries was unimaginable. That has permanently been altered by the inventions that facilitated globalization. For example, someone looking to place their funds into an opportunity that appears successful does no longer have to worry about locations. Those thinking that companies doing IPOs in the United Kingdom will be profitable? They can easily buy stocks in those businesses through a few simple clicks. Such simplicity was not even deemed possible when people used to get their stock certificates mailed to them back in the 1900s. Luckily, the globalized world is opening financial markets to forever-changing demographics. This gives birth to a diversified body of investors from all over the globe.

Breaking the Glass Ceiling

Sadly, the history has imparted many glass ceilings on members of the protected groups. For instance, women were not exactly welcome to many men-operated industries in the past. This same concept applied to other demographics that were sabotaged by racially-motivated prejudices. In 2018, however, things like sexism and racism have been addressed through many political and social campaigns. Although there is a lot more room for improvement, reading about topics that cover female CEOs, per se, is no longer uncommon. This helps every industry evolve as the opportunities have been widened by ever-spreading concepts of open mind. Going back to the idea of people being evaluated based on merits, the fact that gender, race, or ethnicity are no longer used to quantify someone’s knowledge is certainly a great step forward.

Modernization

Having a statistical battle between Baby Boomers and Millennials who have a college degree is a fight that will be easily won by the Millennials. Thus, the knowledge-based demographics are also an important factor in the evolving industry of investing, trading, or leading successful entrepreneurship endeavors. People nowadays have to go through rigorous education that implies learning about things like taxes, advanced levels of math, and much more. This is not something that was available to older generations who used to run the financial markets for the past 50 years. As one glances on the upcoming century, it seems that the workforce with many tangible credentials will lead to a modernized and educated manner of operating.

2018 Housing Market Forecast

When the housing market was growing out of proportion during the years leading up to the economic crisis of 2008, the rapid growth created something that became known as the “housing bubble”. As predicted by many experts yet not enough average citizens, the entire market soon came crashing down and destroyed the short-term economy of the country. This resulted in many issues for the financial industry that was closely tied to the housing endeavors and many people were pushed into foreclosures. Now, a decade after the unfortunate downturn, the housing market seems to be showing a much healthier growth.

First, one of the reasons that the crash was inevitable was due to the growth that largely exceeded the capacity of the demand and supply. In turn, the natural equilibrium was non-existent and the only way to retrieve it was to push the “restart” button which, in this particular case, was the aforementioned crash. Nowadays, however, the housing market has been growing at much more reasonable rates that have not topped a 5-percent yearly increase in construction projects. This enables the buyers and sellers to slowly increase their operations and ease into the broad change that affects pricing models. Thus, it seems that the proper forecast for the housing market must be depicted in form of a very positive picture.

What contributes to the current growth patterns is the fact that the markets are also witnessing an increasing number of high-income rentals. Given that the most common alternative to purchasing a home is to rent one, lenders who are increasing their prices are certainly contributing to people’s decisions to obtain a mortgage. This simply showcases a case of complement goods. Meaning, when the price of one of the assets in question goes up, the relatively “low” price of the other becomes more attractive. Hence why lenders who are deciding to spike up their leasing charges are giving rise to people becoming more curious about the prospects of just buying a property for themselves.

Lastly, the long-lived streak of mortgage rates that were below 4 percent made it possible for countless would-be homeowners to actually become one. As a byproduct of the recovering economy, the banks and nonconventional lenders had their mortgage interest rates set below 4 percent for a record-shattering 26 weeks. With such a rate, those interested in a high-end liability in form of a loan were invited to obtain one as the cost-benefit ratio outweighed their prospects of continuing to pay rent every month. Ultimately, if this trend continues, it would not be surprising to see the housing market reach its heights again. This time, however, the risk of a crash would be minimal as the growth is occurring naturally.

Current Market Indications Point to Potentially Robust Economic Growth in 2018

It has been nearly a decade since the end of the Great Recession. After such a lengthy period of recovery, there are now signs that the US economy is finally poised to experience robust growth throughout 2018. Perhaps most importantly, current market trends have economists especially optimistic about the possibility of pervasive growth, with many analysts expecting a significant acceleration in wage gains.

During the long period of economic recovery that began in 2009, the US economy posted an average growth of 2.1 percent, with 2.9 percent (2015) representing the high-water mark. Due to the expectation of continued business investment and rising consumer spending, analysts are projecting a 2.6 percent rate of growth for 2018, an increase of 0.3 percent from the 2017 projection (2.3 percent). Since the 2018 projection was made prior to the passage of tax legislation, it’s reasonable to conclude that the 2.6 percent figure might approach a full 3 percent.

Of course, these projections never rely on any single market indicator, and a number of recent developments have contributed to the optimistic economic projections for the year ahead. Consumer demand for automobiles, combined with continued technological innovation as well as the recent rally in oil production, has been instrumental in the recovery experienced in the manufacturing sector. With the global economy also growing stronger, other sectors in the US have enjoyed significant benefits as well.

These recent domestic and international gains continue to play an important role in the declining unemployment rate in the United States. At 4.1 percent, the nation’s unemployment rate is the lowest posted in the aftermath of the Great Recession, when the unemployment rate reached 10 percent in 2009 (prior to 2009, it hadn’t eclipsed 10 percent since 1983).

Even at the current rate of 4.1 percent, analysts tend to agree that the downward trend will continue in 2018. This is good news for American workers, as employers will be forced to compete for new hires and will likely adopt stronger policies intended to retain current employees. Employers will also have to seriously consider instituting robust training programs to help fill existing vacancies, which will give American workers the opportunity to expand their skill set without investing in potentially costly academic programs or vocational schools.

It’s these conditions — an ever-tightening labor market at a time when companies have immediate and expanding employment needs — that have economists confident that wage growth with finally experience significant gains after stagnating for nearly a decade. According to current projections, analysts are predicting an increase of 2.5 percent for 2018, with gains growing stronger with each passing month until finally exceeding 3 percent at year’s close.

When wage growth rises at a rate approaching 3 percent, it’s only natural to expect a commensurate increase in consumer spending, which is responsible for approximately 70 percent of the US economy. Consumer spending is expected to increase at a rate of 2.5 percent, and business investment is projected to grow at a rate of anywhere from 4.5 percent to 6 percent or more.

The recent tax legislation is expected to further bolster these projections, although it remains possible that the overwhelming majority of corporations will opt to use the tax cuts to increase dividends or buy back stock rather than investing in employees by increasing wages or expanding benefits.

Although the full economic impact of the recently passed tax cut legislation remains to be seen, economists recognize ample reason for optimism about the possibility of economic growth in the year 2018. The most recent projections for economic growth are supported by a number of critical market indicators, including declining unemployment rates, increasing wage gains, and the likelihood of increased business investment, all of which contribute to the growing confidence in the future of the US economy.

Predicting China’s 2018 Economic Priorities

The priorities of the world’s second-largest economy are quite likely to shift in 2018, as those in charge of overseeing the Chinese economy seem to prefer a more cautious approach focused on protecting against the threat of a potential financial crisis. As a result, stimulating economic growth is no longer the chief concern of Chinese officials. According to several economic analysts familiar with the new priorities of the government, China’s 2018 economic growth target will remain somewhere around 6.5 percent, unchanged from the target set for the previous year.

Over the past year or so, China has sharpened its focus on limiting capital outflows and tracking down any potential “gray rhinos” — the unaddressed and eminently solvable threats that left unchecked might undermine the country’s manufacturing-driven economy. After capital outflows reached an unprecedented $725 billion in 2016, China instituted several policies designed to limit capital outflow. Those policies, as evidenced by the continued improvement in the nation’s foreign reserve funds, are rightly viewed as successful in achieving the government’s desired outcome.

This risk-averse approach is not necessarily welcome news for the local government officials with growth targets that still need to be met. In order to carry out its economic agenda, however, the current administration has expressed a clear willingness to part with any government official who disagrees with the economic plan as it currently exists. Given its firm belief in the course it has charted, it’s fair to predict that China will keep its interbank interest rates high while implementing additional policies intended to keep its money supply growth in check (a rate of 7 or 8 percent is a reasonable estimate).

China is also quite likely to reduce the pace of infrastructure growth, with its longstanding debt concerns representing the principal reason for the reduction. It’s also likely that the country will continue to shift its focus from an economy built on manufacturing to a consumer and services-based economy. As a number of other analysts have pointed out, growth stemming from such a shift is unlikely without further effort to promote the change, with tax cuts being the most frequently suggested strategy for realizing the potential gains of the ongoing economic transition.

Although Chinese officials are adopting a risk-averse approach with the goal of preventing a financial crisis, most authorities remain confident in the country’s ability to create a protective barrier around its financial and economic systems. In the view of these officials, such a barrier — along with the cautious economic plan it has outlined for this year — will effectively limit the impact of any internal or external shocks in 2018 and beyond.