Friday, January 27, 2012

It's not what we owe, it's what we OWN!

More ridiculous ranting from CNBC's resident clown, Rick Santelli. This time he does the tired exercise of breaking down the national debt per individual. We've seen this, over and over and over ad nauseum.

The national debt represents the sum total of spending over revenues that the government has done over the past 223 years. The $16 trillion whatever figure means that the government spent $16 trillion more dollars than it took in taxes. Those $16 trillion (dollars) went to people. It went in their bank accounts or in their pockets. It's part of their wealth. It's not what they owe, it's what they own.

Yes, it's a debt of the government, but it's an asset of the non-government. That would be us!

So, it's not $11,971 of debt per citizen. Rather, it's $11,971 of WEALTH per citizen.


Anonymous said...

RS a fool? LOL! What the Hell makes you think we are any different then the Empires that preceded us? I know, you think we are special and that we deserve overspending to infinity, but exponential math and history call BS on your unicorn and skittles scenario.

Matt Franko said...

Mike I heard that this AM and couldnt believe it...

This is what CNBC thinks is edifying television.

When (we) in the non-govt sector provide our real goods and services to the govt sector, what does Santelli think we should get (and keep!) in exchange? NOTHING?????

What does he think we get for provisioning the govt sector? A 'Thank You'?

This is getting beyond absurd.

Tom Hickey said...

He's stuck in the government is a big household analogy. Send him Warren's 7DIF and maybe he will stop making a fool of himself and apologize for all the confusion he has caused.

Matt Franko said...

John Carney,

Here is the link for Warren's 7DIF:

Please forward this to Santelli if you would.... Thanks!


Tom Hickey said...

@ Matt

Right, makes CNBC look like Zero Hedge. Of course, all the hedgies are going wild over Santelli's latest rant.

Anonymous said...

Let's plant more money trees, as history shows it was the evil monetary beetle that killed The Roman Empire, as well as other Empire's wealth by destroying those precious trees, and we now have a super strong money tree strain that the evil monetary beetle can never kill.

If you folks aren't Taleb's Turkey Analogy, then I don't know who is.

Tom said...

Quick question...I feel like Im confusing myself sometimes....

So does $16T national debt mean that (if there was no horizontal money creation for discussions sake) there are $16T dollars in existance?

Matt Franko said...


Taleb should have stopped after book #1.


Think this thru.

You are contacted by the Treasury Dept. to go in there and provide a seminar for 2 hours to their JR employees on the glories of Austrian Economics or what ever you do....

So you drive over there one evening and give your seminar for two hours. Everybody loves it. After you are done, the supervisor at the Treasury Dept says "Well you spoke for 2 hours so we'll give you $75/hr and throw in another $50 for travel expenses, so here is $200 for your effort and time and materials"

You say "thanks!"

As you walk back out to your car you're thinking "not bad for 2 hours work...."

You get in your car and attempt to leave the Treasury parking lot but they have a pay lot with a gate and attendant.

You pull up to the booth and the attendant says "That'll be $200 to park here for 2 hours"..

You think: "Good thing I just got paid $200 by the same Treasury Dept that owns the parking lot and I have the exact change"

Attendant takes the money and you start to drive off and all of a sudden you think to yourself "Hey! wait a minute!"

Just then you look down and your car is on "E" and you cant make it home without buying gas. So you stop at the gas station and have to put the gas on your credit card!

Do you follow?


marris said...

What is the point of the parking meter story? [Seriously, I don't see what point is being illustrated, MMT or otherwise.]

Clonal said...


Did you ever look at Pete Stark's interview with Jan Helfeld? Jan really acts like an a**h***e - Pete threatens to physically toss him out of the office. Pete is an ex banker - very liberal and left wing. He does not suffer fools easily.

Pete Stark Blows Up Over National Debt

Matt Franko said...


The $200 payment to Anon is a metaphor for a govt payment from the TGA to a non-govt sector entity.

The parking fee is a metaphor for a tax.

The equivalence in paid amounts is a metaphor for a "balanced budget"

Anon's net lack of payment from the govt sector leaves him with no choice but to borrow from a bank to be able to survive, etc...


Matt Franko said...


Yes I think Mike posted this up sometime back its hilarious...

I wish he would have kicked his ass!

That would have been classic... and maybe the moron would have had to think about it while he recovered and had a breakthru....


Tom Hickey said...

So does $16T national debt mean that (if there was no horizontal money creation for discussions sake) there are $16T dollars in existance?

No, private sector banks are public-private partnerships that have a franchise to create money denominated in the unit of account by extending credit. Loans create deposits. But assets and liabilities balance on bank and bank customers' books, so no net financial assets are created. When a loan is repaid, the asset and liability are cancel each other out, and the financial assets disappear. Of course, they may have been used to create real assets.

Only government can increase non-government NFA, which is does through though fiscal deficits. Expenditure injects financial assets into non-government for which there is no corresponding liability in non-government. The corresponding liability is at the central bank. Public debt is the stock of cumulative deficits.

Calgacus said...

Tom:So does $16T national debt mean that (if there was no horizontal money creation for discussions sake) there are $16T dollars in existance?
Basically, yes. TomH: Tom said no horizontal-money-creation, so basically no banks. In any case, the bank money always nets to zero, as you explain.

Anonymous: Don't you think that if the whole world forgot how to add & subtract, that a world which didn't forget would look like it was doing impossible magic with unicorns & skittles? MMT= accounting = addition & subtraction. Unfortunately, we live in the first, amnesiac, innumerate world.

googleheim said...

The problem is the derivatives markets are scrimming the money credited and it does not get to any of regular people

GLH said...

I have a solution for Rick Santelli that I always use when he is on - it is called the mute button. Try it, it works. If someone has nothing intellegent to say, then why listen to him?

GLH said...

Clonal: I watched the video and I thought that the demeanor of the interviewer was really weird. Of course I have observed such actions before in people who think they know exactely how something works and actually have no clue. I took the time to read some of the commemts made about the interview and I am amazed at how ignorant the comments are and yet the people making them seem to feel so intellegent and vindicated. It reminds me of the saying about pride going before a fall. Those people are really sad.

Ryan Harris said...

Too bad Fox or RT or some business channel wouldn't give Mr. Norman, or one of the other Media savvy folks a Daily Show type format that would help people "get economics" in an amusing format. There is enough misinformation put out every day that it would take a national daily show with millions of viewers to keep up the battle against the non-sense.

Anonymous said...

Matt Franko,

Rather than addressing my point concerning Taleb's Turkey Analogy, you became a critic of his further work. Typical.

Concerning your little story, it appears to me that the person was just screwed out of all his productive income,typical, and the Treasury is borrowing the fiat into existence in the first place so that the $200 ends up as a transfer payment to something unproductive which fails to boost the production of a nation which is the only way to build real national wealth/GDP.

In Latin, "fiat" means, "let it be done". Our Founding Fathers were wise enough to understand history and the rise and fall of various empires through currency debasement to the point of worthless and not worth less.

There is nothing new under the Sun.

Tom Hickey said...

Anonymous: Our Founding Fathers were wise enough to understand history and the rise and fall of various empires through currency debasement to the point of worthless and not worth less.

Citations please. I don't recall reading that anywhere in the founding documents. Prior to the Revolution the colonies issued fiat to offset the scarcity of the British currency. When His Majesty prohibited that, the colonies went into depression and that is largely what resulted in the revolution.

While it is true that the Continental Congress did issue currency to finance the Revolution and it depreciated, that is entirely accountable based on the political situation. Wars very often result in inflations. Nothing to see here.

The founders don't seem to have been scared off by this experience. The founding documents say nothing about convertibility or about banking, either. They support direct issuance of currency by the Treasury, as President Lincoln realize when it instituted the greenback to finance the Civil War. Hyperinflation did not result in the Union, only in the Confederacy, and that was due to the political situation.

There was a controversy about banking at the outset as institutions were being developed. Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton won and instituted a central bank and largely European banking practice so that the US would conform to international practice in trade and have the confidence of trading partners.

So I don't see where you are coming from on this.

Matt Franko said...


Taleb doesnt know what is going on.

He seems to at one point fled the country he was so frustrated.

I read his first book on random outcomes and thought it was good.

I did not read his other books.

Look, you get the part right where you say the guy got screwed by the Treasury; this is a big issue with MMT right now ie WE ARE TREMENDOUSLY OVERTAXED...

You get the part wrong though where you say the Treasury "borrowed the money", they do no such thing. They issue it via fiat just like you say. There is nothing wrong with this.

Unless they overtax the balances away from the nongovt sector...