Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Explaining the growth of private-sector debt

I've done several posts lately on the same theme and largely all showing the same graph of public and private debt.

I've tried to suggest that private debt is the big debt, and that the big debt is the big problem.

Before I get too far off that topic I want to restate my thinking on the reason private debt grew so large.

Debt is not the result of spending, nor of excessive spending. Debt is the result of credit-use, plain and simple.

All of our economic policies encourage the use of credit, because we think we need credit for growth. None of our policies encourage the repayment of debt.

So we accumulate debt, and we just let debt accumulate. It's policy.

Meanwhile, on the other hand, and at the same time we think that printing money causes inflation. So (despite what you've heard from everybody else on the planet) our economic policy has reduced the quantity of money relative to GDP.

So we have less spending-money, and we use more credit. That is my explanation of the growth of debt. Simple, right?

It's all policy. We think we need to use more credit for growth (no matter how much debt we have). And we think printing money causes inflation (and using credit doesn't). It's all just bad policy.

And apparently almost nobody realizes that the cost of all that debt is the cost that drives prices up and living standards down, and hinders economic growth besides.

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