America‚Äôs gross national debt exceeded $31 trillion for the first time on October 4.  This happened as interest rates on the debt will be going up and as the US may be sliding into recession.  The debt has grown due to huge government spending during the Covid pandemic and to Trump tax cuts.  Until recently the Administration and Congress were spending like there was no tomorrow, and the Fed was cooperating with them by keeping interest rates historically low.  Low interest rates led to assertions that deficits and debts did not matter.  At higher interest rates, they may matter. 

If the Fed gets interest rates back down to 2%, paying interest on the debt may not be too bac, but if inflation remains at 4% or higher, debt payments will be an increasing burden on paying for other government programs, such as defense or Social Security.  Some programs will have to be cut in order to pay additional interest on the debt.  Otherwise the debt grows bigger. 

An article in the Economist said that unless Congress and the Administration work with the Fed by limiting spending, monetary policy (the Fed) eventually loses traction.  Higher interest rates become inflationary, not disinflationary, because they simply lead governments to borrow more to pay rising debt-service costs, i.e., the Fed has  no way to fight inflation alone. 

In the last few years the US has gone on a massive spending spree.  We may now have to pay for it.  We can pay by instituting some sort of austerity, or we can just get on the inflation bandwagon and ride it into the future. 

 

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