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CBO Says USA Will Have 20 Trillion Dollar Debt in 2020

Guest greenzen

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The gross domestic product (GDP) or gross domestic income (GDI) is a basic measure of a country's overall economic output. It is the market value of all final goods and services made within the borders of a country in a year. It is often positively correlated with the standard of living, though its use as a stand-in for measuring the standard of living has come under increasing criticism and many countries are actively exploring alternative measures to GDP for that purpose. GDP can be determined in three ways, all of which should in principle give the same result. They are the product (or output) approach, the income approach, and the expenditure approach. The most direct of the three is the product approach, which sums the outputs of every class of enterprise to arrive at the total. The expenditure approach works on the principle that all of the product must be bought by somebody, therefore the value of the total product must be equal to people's total expenditures in buying things. The income approach works on the principle that the incomes of the productive factors ("producers," colloquially) must be equal to the value of their product, and determines GDP by finding the sum of all producers' incomes.


Example: the expenditure method:


GDP = private consumption + gross investment + government spending + (exports − imports)

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The Congressional Budget Office projects that if current laws and policies remained unchanged, the federal budget would show a deficit of $1.3 trillion for fiscal year 2010. That amount would be slightly smaller than the 2009 deficit but, as a share of the economy as a whole (measured by gross domestic product, or GDP), it would still be the second largest since World War II. The budget picture remains daunting beyond this year, with deficits averaging about $600 billion annually from 2011 through 2020.


Those estimates are not intended to be a prediction of actual budget outcomes; rather, they indicate what CBO estimates would occur if current laws and policies remained in place. Toward that end, CBO’s projections presume no changes in current tax laws or spending programs. Any new legislation that reduced revenues (such as indexing the alternative minimum tax for inflation) or boosted spending (such as providing supplemental funding for military operations in Afghanistan) would increase projected deficits. For example, if all tax provisions that are scheduled to expire in the coming decade were extended and the AMT were indexed for inflation, deficits over the 2011–2020 period would be more than $7 trillion higher. (See the above chart for details on the budgetary impact of some alternative policy actions and see the sidebar for more information on CBO’s baseline.)


Accumulating deficits are pushing federal debt to significantly higher levels. CBO projects that total debt will reach $8.8 trillion by the end of 2010. At 60 percent of GDP, that would be the highest level since 1952. Under current laws and policies, CBO’s projections show that level climbing to 67 percent by 2020. As a result, interest payments on the debt are poised to skyrocket; the government’s spending on net interest will triple between 2010 and 2020, increasing from $207 billion to $723 billion.


Economic growth will probably remain muted for the next few years. The deep recession that began in 2007 appears to have ended in the middle of 2009. The economy grew during the third quarter, and early signs suggest that the labor market strengthened slightly late in 2009. CBO expects that the economy will continue to grow, although at a slower pace than in past recoveries. Hiring rates remain very low, and CBO projects that the unemployment rate will average more than 10 percent during the first half of 2010, before beginning a gradual decline. That pattern is typical of recent recessions, where hiring continues to fall for 6 to 12 months after the economy begins to grow.


Beyond the 10-year projection period, growth of spending for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will speed up from its already rapid rate. To keep federal deficits and debt from reaching levels that would substantially harm the economy, lawmakers would have to significantly increase revenues, decrease projected spending, or enact some combination of the two.

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The large 2009 and 2010 deficits reflect a combination of factors: an imbalance between revenues and spending that predates the recession and turmoil in financial markets, sharply lower revenues and elevated spending associated with those economic conditions, and the costs of various federal policies implemented in response to those conditions.


The deep recession that began two years ago appears to have ended in mid-2009. Economic activity picked up during the second half of last year, with inflation-adjusted GDP and industrial production both showing gains. Still, GDP remains roughly 6½ percent below CBO’s estimate of the output that could be produced if all labor and capital were fully employed (that difference is called the output gap), and the unemployment rate, at 10 percent, is twice what it was two years ago.


Economic growth in the next few years will probably be muted in the aftermath of the financial and economic turmoil. Experience in the United States and in other countries suggests that recovery from recessions triggered by financial crises and large declines in asset prices tends to be protracted. Also, although aggressive action on the part of the Federal Reserve and the fiscal stimulus package enacted in early 2009 helped moderate the severity of the recession and shorten its duration, the support coming from those sources is expected to wane. Furthermore, spending by households is likely to be constrained by slow growth of income, lost wealth, and limits on their ability to borrow, and investment spending will be slowed by the large number of vacant homes and offices.


Under current law, the federal fiscal outlook beyond this year is daunting: Projected deficits average about $600 billion per year over the 2011–2020 period. As a share of GDP, deficits drop markedly in the next few years but remain high—at 6.5 percent of GDP in 2011 and 4.1 percent in 2012, the first full fiscal year after certain tax provisions originally enacted in 2001, 2003, and 2009 are scheduled to expire. Thereafter, deficits are ­projected to range between 2.6 percent and 3.2 percent of GDP through 2020.

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Guest Bringback The Greenback

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The new 100 dollar bill retains the traditional look, with the portrait of Benjamin Franklin, but contains a security tape alternating three-dimensional images of bells and the number 100 is tilted to change the viewing angle.


It also has the image of a bell in the front that changes from copper color to green when tilted.


“Like the previous redesigns of U.S. currency, this bill incorporates the best technology available to ensure that we stay ahead of counterfeiters,” he said in a statement Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.


The new $100 bill is the most counterfeited outside the United States because of its wide circulation.



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