November 06, 2017

Professor Summers. Keeping mum on how sovereign public borrowings are currently subsidized is cheating on the future

Sir, Lawrence Summers writes: “Borrowing to pay for tax cuts is a way of deferring, not avoiding, pain. Ultimately the power of compound interest makes even larger tax increases or spending cuts necessary. But in the meantime debt-financed tax cuts raise the trade deficit, and reduce investment thereby cheating the future.” “A Republican tax plan that would help the rich and harm growth” November 6.

Sir, Prof Summers is entirely correct in that “Borrowing to pay for tax cuts is a way of deferring, not avoiding, pain”. But, one major reason for why such borrowing can occur is that it is currently contracted at artificially low rates.

With the regulatory subsidy imbedded in the capital requirements for banks’ 0% risk weighting of sovereign debt; and with the stimuli provided by the Fed with its low interest policy and huge quantitative easing programs, America’s current government’s borrowing costs do not reflect the real undistorted rates.

Without these non-transparent help from their statist colleagues, there is no doubt the interest rates would be higher, the current fiscal deficit higher, and the adjustments needed much clearer.

Sir, since Professor Summers has been consistently ignoring this, he is willing or unwittingly helping to cheat the future too.