QUESTION: If governments have been borrowing without limit since world war 2, are you saying that there is some line that is cross in debt to GDP that results in default?
ANSWER: No. The debt to GDP ratio is interesting. The USA is at about 103% and China is at 250%. The ratio is at 180% for Greece and France is at 96.5%. If we used exclusively these numbers, China should be worse than Greece. If France’s debt is less than the USA, then why is the French economy doing so badly? So what is the real issue that causes defaults?
To answer that question we need to introduce currency. France and Germany were less impacted by converting to the Euro than Greece, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Why? Currency Inflation! Southern Europe had always issued debt and over time you were paying back with cheaper currency. The USA is insulated in that manner. $1 million in 1930 could buy 1,666 Cadillacs. Today, financed for 39 months, the cost of a Cadillac is $26,700, which means that $1 million will only buy 37.4 cars. The debt issued in 1940 has been devalued over time. This is how debts have escaped the theory that a national debt has some limit.
Then countries like Germany worry about the debt so they raise taxes to keep the ratio down below 70%. In taking that approach, they lower the standard of living of their population to support the government. The government spending as a percent of GDP in Germany has run on average about 46.5% of GDP compared to the USA average at 36.57%. The higher that ratio the lower the standard of living. It also...