Kotlikoff: U.S. Bankrupt & Doesn’t Know It


Inquiring minds are seeing the second side of the argument with Laurence Kotlikoff, an economics professor at Boston University, difference of opinion with previously quoted Yale economist Schiller. From “U.S. Is Bankrupt and…“:

Let’s get real. The U.S. is bankrupt. Neither spending more nor taxing less will help the country pay its bills.

What it can and must do is radically simplify its tax, health-care, retirement and financial systems, each of which is a complete mess. But this is the good news. It means they can each be redesigned to achieve their legitimate purposes at much lower cost and, in the process, revitalize the economy.

Want it straight?

…the IMF has effectively pronounced the U.S. bankrupt. Section 6 of the July 2010 Selected Issues Paper says: “The U.S. fiscal gap associated with today’s federal fiscal policy is huge for plausible discount rates.” It adds that “closing the fiscal gap requires a permanent annual fiscal adjustment equal to about 14 percent of U.S. GDP.”

But that isn’t REALLY giving you quite a clear enough picture of what is coming. So Dr. Kotlikoff says it as directly as possible:

Based on the CBO’s data, I calculate a fiscal gap of $202 trillion, which is more than 15 times the official debt. This gargantuan discrepancy between our “official” debt and our actual net indebtedness isn’t surprising. It reflects what economists call the labeling problem. Congress has been very careful over the years to label most of its liabilities “unofficial” to keep them off the books and far in the future.

The rest of the article is well worth the time.

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