Monday, October 22, 2012 10:05:40 PM
wibble4321 I have spent much of my working life dealing with corporate and quasi-public debt.
I would look at liability service coverage ratio based on the ability to pay service obligations of debt and all liabilities including social liabilities and committed subsidies from the maximum effective revenue that can be derived from taxing recurring sources of government revenue and disposal of publicly held assets. In considering this equation, you must consider the ability of the people and corporations to bear the raising of taxes and the strength of the government's grip on power. It`s not a simple consideration capable of being measured with one simple metric.
Monday, October 22, 2012 4:43:08 PM
@RobSwindol, You are right but not in any sense that anyone cares about. The absolute level of debt is largely irrelevant. It has no economic interest in isolation. What matters in economics is the ability to service debt, which is measured by debt to earnings ratio - which in sovereign debt is GDP. No-one cares if the US has more borrowing than Greece, they do care if it has better prospects to pay down that debt than Greece does.
I guess a simple analogy might be with cars. Yes, which car has more horsepower is an interesting fact, but without knowing how much the car weighs you have a pretty hard time deciding which is going to be faster. A lorry/truck has far more horsepower than a Ferrari but that is a rather meaningless statistic in isolation...
Monday, October 22, 2012 3:52:04 PM
Social security and medicare are unusual cases because they are NOT funded directly out of the federal budget. The money for them comes ultimately from the money that workers pay into the system via dedicated payroll taxes--it's basically a retirement savings annuity that you`re required to buy into and can`t lose money on when the stock market crashes. Financially, the only problem with the system is that it`s losing money because people are living too long and spending too much on vain attempts to live even longer once they start dying of cancer or the like. Those issues need to be addressed, but they have nothing to do with the national debt.