Sunday, January 18, 2009

Countries in default--a blueprint for the US?

Countries which have defaulted on their bond obligations: first Russia in 1998, then Argentina in 2001, Iceland last November, Ecuador last December, and Ukraine on the brink.

More emerging countries are at risk. What's important to note is that in each case, the local currency was debased due to exorbitant printing of said currency. This was done in response to governments looking to print their way out of a huge deficit problem. This monetary and fiscal easing caused hyperinflation, which then caused interest rates to soar. This further exacerbated the ballooning debt, and eventually, the countries could not meet their debt covenants. This caused the country to shut down, as the government IOU's were now worthless, and credit disappeared.

The US Treasury and Federal Reserve Bank are essentially implementing these same policies of easy money and quantitative easing--only on a much grander scale. Exactly how they expect a different outcome for the US is beyond me.

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