Fiscal hawks have been sounding the alarm about rising debt levels for decades, but their nightmare scenario of runaway inflation hasn’t come to pass. How do we know if this time is different? In April, Reason’s Zach Weissmueller spoke with the Hoover Institution’s John Cochrane, an economist and self-proclaimed debt crisis “doomsayer.”
Q: At the end of World War II, the debt-to-GDP ratio was similar to today’s, the economy boomed, and we were able to slowly grow our way out of it. Is that a good analogy to the pandemic?
A: We borrowed a ton of money to save the world from fascism. Then we stopped spending money. The war was over. The U.S. after World War II ran steady primary surpluses—whereas right now we’re talking about at least 3 to 5 percent primary deficits forever, plus stimulus in every crisis, plus Social Security and Medicare.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Everything is Infrastructure Now
How spending got out of control and words lost their meaning
DEA Still Insists Marijuana Has No ‘Accepted Medical Use'
DEA still maintains that the plant belongs in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), a category supposedly reserved for especially dangerous drugs with no accepted medical use.
History – Walking the Delicate Line Between Reporter and Activist
I spent the second half of the 1990s hanging out with people who operate unlicensed radio stations. That was partly because I was covering them as a reporter, and it was partly because I was active in a movement to legalize their illicit transmissions.
Do We Really Need New Anti-Asian Hate Crime Laws?
A holistic look at the data shatters the narrative about bias-based violence.
Cynthia Lummis, Crypto Queen Of The U.S. Senate
The Wyoming Republican explains why she’s long on bitcoin.
What happens when a community bail fund stops paying bail and starts trying to abolish it?
Cubans Rose Up. America Should Step Up.
After thousands of Cubans poured into the streets in early July to protest the island nation’s Communist government, President Joe Biden said America “stands firmly” with the people of Cuba.
Economist John Cochrane Is Still Worried About the Debt
The U.S. national debt held by the public is currently almost $22 trillion, or about $67,000 per citizen, surpassing the country’s annual GDP for the first time since World War II. The Congressional Budget Office predicted in March that the U.S. debt would grow to 102 percent of GDP by the end of 2021, to 107 percent by 2031, and to 202 percent by 2051. Those estimates came before President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, which made the long-term budget outlook even worse.
How Many Union Members Does It Take To Operate A Train?
President Joe Biden’s proposed $2.25 trillion infrastructure spending bill is more than just a huge barrel of federal cash for road, bridge, and rail projects. It is also a vehicle for reauthorizing America’s surface transportation laws, providing an opportunity for special interests to write new rules and mandates into federal policy.
Jane Coaston – Meet The New York Times' Libertarian Podcaster
Jane Coaston on the polarization of everything