economy Markets

‘Once People Start Missing Payments’: Bedlam, Bullion, And The Risk Of Doing Too Little

[Updates with outcome of Tuesday's negotiations] Just a "little bit" of headway on fraught stimulus negotiations in Washington was all it took to push spot gold above $2,000. The yellow metal extended its record-breaking surge as Steve Mnuchin described talks with Nancy Pelosi as having made "a little bit of progress", while Chuck Schumer mused that both sides want "to get something done as soon as we can". Later, after another meeting, Mnuchin said the White House and Democrats aim to have a deal by the end of the week. The prospect of another $1 trillion (plus) in government spending is partially behind gold's relentless rally. Treasury said Monday it expects to borrow $947 billion in the July – September quarter, $270 billion more than announced in May. The statement, which came ahead of the quarterly refunding announcement Wednesday, cited an assumed $1 trillion of additional borrowing "in anticipation of legislation being passed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak". Needless to say, $1 trillion vis-à-vis funding for more stimulus seems like a pretty conservative "placeholder" (as one Treasury official described the figure). That's the amount Republicans are prepared
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8 comments on “‘Once People Start Missing Payments’: Bedlam, Bullion, And The Risk Of Doing Too Little

  1. Anaximander says:

    They’ve been working to rehabilitate Summers, and it seems to have largely worked. To his credit, he has given a sort of “de facto” mea culpa in taking up the secular stagnation theme for a while now. But we’d be remiss to let him off the hook. More than anyone, he was responsible for setting the Overton Window back in those days. He was the one who dismissed out of hand stimulus larger than $1T as “impossible”, despite many of us arguing passionately for it. He wants to be remembered for being more than the neoliberal architect that he was, for pushing the envelope, but it is simply not the case. The Dems had the Presidency and both houses of Congress, a rarity of historical proportions, but they squandered it almost completely. The Obama years were essentially a time of austerity and monetarism, the charts don’t lie, and these revisionists shouldn’t get away with claiming otherwise. Because it is a big deal; it cuts to the root of decay of a once great country.

  2. Ria says:

    I would not lay it all on summers, although he was obviously part of it. Roemer was overly optimistic, and I recall the political side of it saying the optics of a trillion dollar deficit was bad. But not as bad as a depression. Other things being equal, large deficits are not desirable. But in a panic, when the economy is in the tank, it is the best game in town especially when properly targeted.

  3. jyl says:

    This is utterly stupid.

    A pandemic is shutting down a major part of the economy. The pandemic has an end date, either through technology (vaccines, drugs) or through the natural course of pandemics (the 1918 pandemic ran its course in about a year). The government needs to keep the patient alive until the infection subsides, so that there is an economy to reopen then. That means partially replacing income for about 15% of Americans – who happen to generally be the lowest income Americans – for a year. No other course of action is logical. Saving money on treatment doesn’t allow you to revive a dead patient.

  4. D Price says:

    Beware the benefits and be mindful the opportunity of hindsight. It can cloud your judgement or provide a useful data point about how things play out in times of excessive uncertainty. Critique the past sparingly I say and focus on building a better future for us all.

  5. Mr. Lucky says:

    For about 25 years my biggest side gig was serving as a consultant and facilitator for companies wishing to develop effective long-term strategic plans. Two kinds of people typically approached me to engage in this work. One was the CEO of a company who knew that such a plan, if properly prepared, would be a perfect vehicle for directing the future of the firm, and also for the team-building required to execute the actions needed for success. The other folks that would come to me were typically holders of titles such as Executive VP of Planning and Development or something similar. Those were generally people deputized by the CEO to create some sort of pseudo plan without any prospect of directing change. In the end the outcome of this sort of process will, in fact, be a meaningless platitude for public consumption or if the result actually does offer the prospect of guiding real change, the CEO, not having been directly involved in the planning process can easily repudiate the result or otherwise dilute the plan so it produces no real lasting outcome. Once I mistakenly took a contract with one of these EVP types … once. It was not pretty.

    I see how much Mnuchin, and Summers back in the day, is/was involved in the architecture of our stimulus remedies and the negotiations surrounding the same and it occurs to me the wrong guy is doing this work. If we had a proper POTUS, a knowledgeable leader, it would be that individual, sleeves uprolled, helping to shape the outcome of this process and taking full ownership of its outcome, for good or ill. The guy we got doesn’t even want to admit there is a problem here. So effectively Mnuchin is our President.

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