Kotlikoff's Annual Warning: Greece Is More Solvent Than the Federal Government

Professor Lawrence Kotlikoff of Boston University testified before the Senate Budget Committee. As usual, his testimony is shocking

The U.S. has a $210 trillion “fiscal gap” and “may well be in worse fiscal shape than any developed country, including Greece,” Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff told members of the Senate Budget Committee in written and oral testimony on Feb. 25.”The first point I want to get across is that our nation is broke,” Kotlikoff testified. “Our nation’s broke, and it’s not broke in 75 years or 50 years or 25 years or 10 years. It’s broke today.

Fascism versus Capitalism Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. Best Price: $3.39 Buy New $7.45 (as of 05:45 EST - Details) ”Indeed, it may well be in worse fiscal shape than any developed country, including Greece,” he said.

Kotlikoff has become skilled at producing sound bites. The media are always after sound bites.

He is always focusing on the key statistic, which is not the on-budget annual deficit. He focuses on the unfunded liabilities of the federal government. What Has Government Do... Rothbard, Murray N. Best Price: null Buy New $2.99 (as of 11:35 EST - Details)

“This declaration of national insolvency will, no doubt, shock those of you who use the officially reported federal debt as the measuring stick for what our country owes,” Kotlikoff told committee members who are considering President Obama’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2016.”After all, federal debt in the hands of the public is only 74 percent of GDP. Yes, this is double the debt-to-GDP ratio recorded a decade ago. But it’s still a far cry from Italy’s 135 debt-to-GDP ratio or Greece’s 175 percent ratio.”

The Creature from Jeky... G. Edward Griffin Best Price: $10.58 Buy New $19.49 (as of 05:45 EST - Details) However, using the Congressional Budget Office’s July 2014 75-year Alternate Fiscal Scenario projection, Kotlikoff calculated that the U.S.’ “fiscal gap” –which he defines as “the difference between our government’s projected financial obligations and the present value of all projected future tax and other receipts” – is actually much higher than those of either Italy or Greece.

“We have a $210 trillion fiscal gap at this point,” Kotlikoff told the senators, which amounts to 211 percent of the U.S.’ $18.2 trillion GDP, making it higher than Greece’s 175 percent debt-to-GDP ratio.

The fiscal gap is “16 times larger than official U.S. debt, which indicates precisely how useless official debt is for understanding our nation’s true fiscal position,” said Kotlikoff, a former senior economist on President Ronald Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers.

This number is astronomical. It should be obvious that there is no way, politically speaking, that this deficit is ever going to be dealt with, other than by default. We need to be reminded of this every year, because the media only talk about it once a year, and that is just after Kotlikoff testifies. He reminds us, and then the media go back to sleep. It happens every year.

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