Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The big and easy solution to debt crisis

My personal financial situation, along with millions of my fellow Americans, mirrors the debt ceiling “negotiations” in Washington. We have few prospects for new income and there’s only so far we can go in cutting expenses. Credit lines are maxed. There’s been months of haggling back and forth with a new plan with virtually every news cycle. They’ve all missed the one big, easy solution.

It’s time to sell something. Americans are pawning and selling to make ends meet. (Ever seen Pawn Stars?!?) Why not the U.S.? What to sell? Following the fairness doctrine of last in first out – we’d have to spin off Hawaii. Maybe just one of the islands would fetch a trillion or two? By unloading only one of the islands we wouldn’t have to change the flag, though it’d be a huge economic boon to have to re-do everything for 49 states again. If we’re hedging then perhaps a lease-back --- I’m sure the Chinese would see it as fair collateral to their $1.152 trillion.

There’s always Alaska. It’s the 49th state (second to last) and it is huge. Only grizzlies live up there from what I heard. Maybe we sell parts of the state to the oil companies? That’d help with national security and the worries of foreign ownership. Gas prices are sure to go down as a result. That may take some time.  It’s probably easiest to slice off bits of the state and sell some to Canada. I understand Russia’s very close – they might want part of the state too if the price was right.

Another option would be splitting off the bottom part of Texas and selling it. Governor Perry suggested the possibility of secession. Knock off the boot --- how many people would really notice?

Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone proposed a few weeks ago to create South California. It is the 251st attempt to split the state. If it works then we could auction the North to the highest bidder. Maybe if San Diego county was lobbed off and sold to the Mexican drug cartels that would be more incentive?

In addition to pawning or selling land – there’s always a landmark or two that wouldn’t be missed. The Brooklyn Bridge has been sold a few times before, so we could always try to sell it again. Or the Hollywood Sign (like the con artists did in an episode of Hustle).

A more serious solution: refinance. Turns out that $3.2 trillion is held by private investors.  Foreign investors own $4.4 trillion – just about the same amount as is owed by intra-government agencies ($4.6). The Federal Reserve own $1.4 trillion.

The potential damage that a default would do to the global economy would be significant. A forbearance by Ben Bernake of the $1.4 trillion might help while the politicians figure things out.

The debt ceiling has been raised 10 times in the past 10 years.  The big and easy solution is that when Congress approves a budget that is out of balance, there must be a provision to borrow the shortfall and raise the borrowing limit. It only makes sense, which is why it’ll never happen.

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