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Thursday, November 12, 2009

George Will warns of dollar's demise

In his column in the Washington Post, George Will warns that this year's federal spending spree is endangering the long-term value of American currency.
The fiscal 2009 budget deficit, triple that of 2008, was 10 percent of GDP. Lawrence Lindsey says probable policies will produce deficits of 7 percent of GDP for a decade. Ronald Reagan's worst deficit was 6 percent of GDP and for only one year.

Lindsey -- a former member of the Federal Reserve board of governors and director of George W. Bush's National Economic Council (2001-02) -- says Americans' net worth has dropped at least $13 trillion since the recession began in December 2007. What is to be done?

Americans could suddenly begin saving substantially more, but this would deepen and prolong the recession. Alternatively, America could reflate the value of its assets by printing money. Lindsey says it is already doing that -- printing bonds promiscuously and lending money to banks at negligible rates, money that banks can use to buy the bonds. This sharply increases the money supply, which sets the stage either for inflation -- too much money chasing too few goods -- or for recovery-snuffing higher interest rates to try to prevent inflation. Or for something like Japan's lost decade -- banks pouring money into government bonds rather than the real economy.

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