The U.S. government is on track to run its first fiscal year deficit of more than $1 trillion since fiscal 2012 yet CNBC reports that politicians and investors don’t seem to really care.
Economists and politicians were once very concerned about ballooning deficits, but the shortfall has been quietly growing since 2015, and because of super low interest rates and a healthy economy, nobody seems to care, CNBC explained.
As long as the economy grows and interest rates stay low, the markets — and politicians — will likely ignore the growing deficit and continue to propose new programs that will increase government spending.
The U.S. budget deficit through the first three months of this budget year is up 11.8% from the same period a year ago, putting the country on track to record its first $1 trillion deficit in eight years, the Associated Press reported earlier this week,
In its monthly budget report, the Treasury Department said Monday that the deficit from October through December totaled $356.6 billion, up from $318.9 billion for the same period last year.
Both government spending and revenues set records for the first three months of this budget year but spending rose at a faster clip than tax collections, pushing the deficit total up.
As a result, the U.S. Treasury will start issuing 20-year bonds in the first half of 2020, expanding its roster of securities as the government seeks ways to fund a ballooning deficit, Bloomberg reported.
Institutional investors have been clamoring for more longer-dated, risk-free securities that offer some nominal yield, amid a global total of $11 trillion of debt with negative rates. Japanese officials have discussed adding a 50-year security, something the U.S. opted against in its announcement.
“The 20-year bond fits more easily into the existing market structure,” said Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP LLC in New York. “This is a way of taking advantage of long-term interest rates that are low by historical standards without introducing a wild-card such as an ultra-long bond, which would have had more growing pains.”
If interest rates “went up for a couple months, ... people would say this is getting more expensive,” Michael Schumacher, director rates strategy at Wells Fargo Securities, told CNBC.
“Right now, they’re not focused on it and that’s one of the reasons why you have none of the political candidates focused on it. ... They don’t care. The market is not penalizing them for it.”
Strategists and economists say the ballooning deficit doesn’t really matter, as much as it did when unemployment was high and the economy was weaker, CNBC explained.
“The deficits are big, but I don’t think at this point they are problematic because you’ve got this relatively high global savings rate, and even though the U.S. deficits are large, they’re still much lower than where they are in other parts of the world,” said Joseph LaVorgna, chief economist Americas at Natixis. He said the deficit normally does not grow when the unemployment rate is low.
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