Economists have long used 1920s Germany as the classic example of what can happen to a nation when monetary inflation gets out of control. So rapid was the inflation of the money supply that the exchange rate went from 60 marks per U.S. dollar during the first half of 1921 to 8,000 marks per dollar by December 1922.
H. Ross Perot used to talk about a “giant sucking sound” in the economy more than a decade ago. Back then, he talked about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) taking American jobs away. But now the “giant sucking sound” is the sound of federal debt issuances draining money out of the private sector, where it's needed to finance the recovery.
With the passage of the $787 billion Obama-Democratic Congress stimulus bill, the die has been cast for America's economic future. This, the largest appropriations bill ever passed by Congress, is being variously criticized and applauded from all sides.
Newsweek magazine published the following headline on the cover of its February 16 issue: “We Are All Socialists Now: The Perils and Promise of the New Era of Big Government.” Of course, it’s hard to imagine that we have only now entered the era of “big government” — weren’t we there already? But there is no doubt that both money creation by the Fed and spending by the federal government are accelerating to finance the proliferating bailout and stimulus programs.
The credit rating of the U.S. government is falling fast. Treasury debt mechanisms have crashed in bond markets this year, forcing Treasury officials to offer a spiral of steeper discounts at auction. Investors are becoming increasingly reluctant to purchase the notes in the face of a rising flood of debt that will be floated by the Treasury Department this year.