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A Tale of Two Economies: U.S. versus China

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A Tale of Two Economies: U.S. versus China
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There can be no doubt that there are two, dominant economies in the world today: China and the United States. However, while China dominates as the new growth “engine” of the world economy, the U.S. dominates as the largest dead-beat the world has ever seen – trying its best to borrow the surpluses of all the world's productive economies.


This is not the first time I've directly compared the two economies (see “China: last economy to slow, first to recover”), however this time I will focus the comparison almost exclusively on debt versus savings – which makes the future paths for these two economies abundantly clear.


The current strength of China's economy is clear for all to see. It's manufacturing sector not only continues its impressive growth, but is steadily marching toward “high-end” manufacturing – where it has already surpassed the U.S. in automobile production.


Meanwhile, China's domestic economy, and consumer demand have demonstrated an even more spectacular performance – with China already becoming the largest automobile consumer in the world (“China's consumer confidence demonstrates robust economy”).


What makes this economic performance much more spectacular is that the explosion of China's domestic economy has occurred while individual Chinese citizens maintained an almost unimaginable savings rate of between 30% and 40%! It was this phenomenal pool of savings which immediately convinced me that China would decouple from the rest of the world when the global economy “crashed” last fall.


Sure enough, while most of the rest of the world plunged into recession, China suffered nothing more than a short “hiccup” in its growth.


On the other side of China's “balance sheet”, the national debt of China is a totally insignificant number, roughly equal to the national debt of Canada – at less than $1/2 trillion. Of course, China has roughly forty times as large a population, a much larger economy, and a much higher rate of both current and long-term growth.


Thus, China looks to the future with the following fundamentals in support. It has the world's largest manufacturing base, the world's largest population (meaning an essentially infinite supply of “cheap labour”), the fastest-growing domestic economy, virtually no national debt, and the world's largest pool of savings to fund (on a sustainable basis) rapidly increasing consumption and rapidly increasing investment in building China's economy much larger.


These facts are in direct contrast with the drivel which has been emanating from the U.S. propaganda machine. The talking-heads continue to pretend that China's economy is dependent on U.S. imports for its vitality.


China's ability to shrug-off the collapse of the U.S. economy refutes this completely. Instead, it is U.S. consumers who are dependent on a continued stream of imported Chinese goods – in order to prevent their rapidly waning purchasing-power from leading to an even larger drop in the national standard of living.


Similarly, the propagandists continue to spout the insanity that China is somehow “forced” to continue to lend the U.S. vast sums of money. Try walking into the office of your banker, and telling him that due to the global economic downturn, he is “forced” to lend you money. Don't let the door hit you on the way out (see “China now in firm control of U.S. debt markets”)!



The only thing more surprising than the infantile level of “reasoning” from the propagandists is that there are still legions of market-lemmings who take this seriously!


Just as the extremely positive future for China is assured, based on its current parameters, so too is the certainty that the U.S. will continue its economic devolution toward national bankruptcy and individual poverty. Once again, the numbers refute the propaganda coming out of the mouths of people like “Helicopter” Ben and Tim-the-tax-cheat.


The United States has had one of the world's lowest savings rates for decades. If that is not bad enough, at the peak of the U.S. housing “bubble”, when the perceived wealth of Americans was at its highest level in history, Americans had a negative savings rate!


At a time when Americans came into temporary possession of $10's of trillions in illusory wealth, they were spending this “wealth” faster than they were accumulating it. The “wealth” is gone, but the debts (in the TRILLIONS) remain.


I will now defer to the superb work of Michael Hodges in compiling data on the U.S.'s debt horror-story. The following graphs come from “America's Total Debt Report”, just one of his detailed essays on this subject. For those who have difficulty grappling with numbers, these graphs will clear up any doubts.


Hodges begins by comparing current, total U.S. debt (more than $57 TRILLION)with the existing debt level from fifty years ago.

 


As if this massive debt-growth isn't bad enough, Hodges adds that over 80% of this debt has been accumulated in less than twenty years. Keep in mind that today the Obama regime is increasing that massive, mountain of debt much faster than even the previous rate of debt-explosion.


This is followed by a graph comparing the explosive rate of growth in U.S. debt with the weak rate of growth in national income. What the graph obviously shows is that the U.S., as a whole, is leveraged with debt to nearly the same insane level as the Wall Street fraud-factories.

 


However, what is perhaps most illuminating is the graph showing the dramatic plunge in the amount of income produced by each additional dollar of debt. The reason this factor is so crucial is that the Obama regime (and their trusty, media-parrots) continue to pretend that the U.S. can borrow-and-spend its way out of its current difficulties. As Hodges points out, there has been a 63% drop in the amount of income produced by each additional dollar of debt – and this graph is declining sharply, meaning that the debt-utility of the trillions being spent today will be significantly lower still.


It shouldn't even be necessary to show people such a graph, since this should be patently obvious to anyone with a grasp of simple arithmetic. Perhaps this point will be still clearer when we compare this mountain of debt to the grossly inadequate Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”) of the U.S.


As pointed out by Chris Martenson, in his own fantastic presentation, “The Crash Course”, roughly $2 TRILLION per year of supposed U.S. GDP is statistical “padding”. It is “deemed GDP”, where there are no dollars changing hands and no visible wealth being generated.


Strip away that padding from the dramatic reduction in GDP caused by the Greater Depression, and we are left with a measly, $11 trillion/year in GDP. Please note that GDP is not the profits of an economy, merely an indication of economic activity.


Given that most U.S. debt is held by individuals and cooperations, and with long-term interest rates rapidly rising, just to service this insane mountain of debt will require something in excess of $3 TRILLION/year. This is more than 25% of annual GDP!


Obviously when more than ¼ of all economic activity is dedicated to simply paying interest on debt, then it is equally obvious that borrowing additional vast sums of money will simply make this ratio much worse. If this were not true, then no one would ever need to declare bankruptcy, they could just keep borrowing more and more and more – until eventually they “solved” their problem.


Is there anyone who still believes the Wall Street Liars, their servants in government, or the media-parrots, when they repeatedly assure one and all that increasing this debt far faster than at any time in history will “solve” the U.S.'s current economic nightmare?


The arithmetic cannot be contradicted. The “plan” of the Obama regime (and the Bush regime before that) is simply a guarantee of bankruptcy for the U.S. - with most likely a destructive episode of hyperinflation before the final, debt-implosion.


What must be pointed out here is that the U.S. is currently so leveraged with debt that it is most likely already too late to try to rescue the U.S. economy through reducing debt. Former U.S. Comptroller, David Walker has already outlined the horrific changes to U.S. spending and taxation which would be required (over many decades) just to eliminate the deficit (with the total debt still growing all this time).


The problem with even Walker's grim projections is that he uses the phony, “statistics” of the U.S. government in making those projections. Plug in real numbers, and the situation is unequivocal: the U.S. is 100% certain to default on its national debt, in a debt-implosion which will be very similar to that of the Soviet Union.


All that remains to be decided is how much worse the U.S. government will make that implosion – by piling countless trillions of additional debt on top of this unsustainable mountain.

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