Saturday, January 5, 2013

The trillion dollar coin isn't a new idea

Can a $1 Trillion Coin End Debt Ceiling Crisis?

In a word, yes.  But, I'm more curious why this is such big news now.  I can't remember the guy's name, but someone ran for president a few elections back on that same platform.  He didn't win, of course.  Back then, I suspect everyone just thought he was crazy; that such a plan could never work; that the debt ceiling really is more complex than minting a coin.

The thing is, the debt ceiling isn't a crisis, though, while the runaway inflation that could result from minting that coin would be.  But just minting the coin and handing it over to the Fed shouldn't in itself cause runaway inflation.  In fact, it seems to me that so long as that trillion dollars stayed out of the economy, it would technically have no effect at all.

And that's the problem with minting the coin.  The money would leak into the economy, expanding the money supply, and increasing inflation.  Most probably it would result in the government borrowing more money, which would cause inflationary pressure, because, you know, those people on Capitol Hill would find some way to spend and borrow more.  Oh wait.  I forgot.  That's why the debt ceiling needs to be raised, so they can spend and borrow more.

Of course, there is an alternative case: a lot of people would think it will result in inflation resulting in people acting in anticipation of inflation, and thereby causing inflation.  The expectation of rising inflation can, in itself cause inflation.  The prices of some things would definitely inflate, like gold (which is already quite inflated) or maybe whiskey (historically a pretty good store of value).  Well, maybe inflation isn't quite the right word; it would just cause increasing bubbles in all kinds of assets, not a bad thing if you happen to get in early and out before the crash.

The main point here is that I can't believe the amount of mainstream media that is trying to make this out like it's some kind of new idea, or that it is really any kind of solution to anything.  The only real solution to our current situation is to get the deficit under control.

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