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CBO Warns Soaring Budget Deficit Raises Likelihood of Fiscal Crisis

CBO Warns Soaring Budget Deficit Raises Likelihood of Fiscal Crisis
(Eduardo Huelin/Dreamstime)

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Tuesday, 10 April 2018 07:56 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s economic speech at the Boao Forum for Asia in the Hainan province of China turned out to be a little less "key" than some had anticipated.

President Xi’s speech didn’t come up with anything dramatically new and was essentially a re-statement of the speech he gave in 2017 in Davos, Switzerland.

In one sense, this was an attempt to position China as the “grownup” in the ongoing trade debate with the U.S. that would reiterate commitments to multinational solutions, lowering tariffs and increase protection for intellectual property.

Xi told the audience, which included IMF chief Christine Lagarde, that China's door will not close (to the world) and will only open wider and wider.

In my opinion, investors could do well keeping in mind that with China, historically, there has always been a difference between what’s declared and what’s actually implemented.

However, as there has been nothing especially new in President Xi’s proposals, it is hard for this to appear on the Trump Twitter feed as a win for the United States.

Without the spin of a political victory for the United States, the substance is not perhaps relevant, so the noise around trade is likely to continue for now as Xi Jinping offered in his speech no big concessions to Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, Trump has been in a stormy frame of mind. The offices of the president’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen were raided by the FBI and documents have been seized “under warrant.” The documents identified in the warrant date back years, according to a person briefed on the search. This made the president quite upset.

The raid is not a trivial thing to arrange as lawyers are accustomed for being treated differently from normal people.

Does this matter? Not in a direct sense.

Committed Trump supporters are likely to see this as a conspiracy and committed Trump opponents are likely to see this as further evidence of wrongdoing. The president’s political capital such as it is, is not likely to change.

However, the affair does seem to have distracted the president from things like trade negotiations with China, which are not currently scheduled.

Given the president’s considerable power over trade issues, having the Head of State distracted in this manner is not necessarily helpful and may have market consequences in the future.

Besides all that, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which is Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper informed yesterday a few things that are of interest to investors.

The CBO stated that the federal budget deficit would total $804 billion this year, or 43 percent higher than it had projected last summer. The CBO also expects the federal budget deficit to exceed $1 trillion mark a year starting in 2020, or within 2 years.

The CBO expects that economic growth will jump above 3 percent this year thanks to fiscal stimulus but it also expects the acceleration will prove largely fleeting.

Larger deficits will add to the national debt: Debt held by the public will hit $28.7 trillion at the end of fiscal 2028, or 96.2 percent of GDP, which would be up from 78 percent of This year’s GDP (2018).

CBO Director Keith Hall commented: “Such high and rising debt would have serious negative consequences for the budget and the nation; in particular, the likelihood of a fiscal crisis in the United States would increase.”

In the rather more wholesome world of economic data, the United States is offering today producer price inflation numbers.

U.S. inflation data have been tending to surprise markets positively recently. Producer prices, which are a far better indicator of company pricing power than are consumer prices have been moving up for the last couple of years.

Core producer price inflation is running at about 2.50 percent on the year at the moment.

This signal of pricing power should be taken seriously as cost pressures in the United States’ economy have been creeping up and the data are suggesting that some of those costs are being passed on.

The Trump trade taxes are costs as well and this is relevant for deciding how much of the tax is likely to be borne by the consumers vs. how much is eroding producers’ profit margins.

Etienne "Hans" Parisis is a bank economist who has advised investors on financial markets and international investments.

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CBO Director Keith Hall commented: “Such high and rising debt would have serious negative consequences for the budget and the nation; in particular, the likelihood of a fiscal crisis in the United States would increase.”
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2018-56-10
Tuesday, 10 April 2018 07:56 AM
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