Inflation Permits Government Spending

I have been doing several posts on the topic of monetary inflation.  Among other things, I have pointed out that inflation is bad for the economy because it misallocates resources, and I have also pointed out that inflation redistributes wealth.

Today, I want to focus on government spending.  Without the existence of a central bank (in this case, the Fed) and without a monopoly on money, the federal government would not be able to spend anywhere close to the amount that it currently does.

Since 2008, the government has been averaging deficits of about $1 trillion per year.  This would have been unheard of prior to 2008.  We were at a point where government debt was paying for about a third of the total budget, or more.  While not all of this debt is bought by the Fed, a sizable portion is.  Plus, the Fed is what has enabled the low interest rates on government bonds and the assurance that there will be no default, at least in nominal terms.

If the government and the Fed did not control the money supply, then the only way the government would be able to issue debt is by actually finding investors.  This could include foreign central banks as it does now.  But without the ability to create new money out of thin air, the issuance of debt would be limited to a large degree.  If the debt got too high, then investors (including foreign central banks and governments) would stop lending, worried that the U.S. government would not be able to meet its obligations.  At the very least, interest rates would rise to compensate for the risk.  So the debt would be self limiting.

This is the way it is for state governments and city governments.  They can issue debt, but they are very limited.  They cannot kick the can down the road as far.  The necessity of a balanced budget (or default) comes up much quicker.

If there were no monopoly on money and no Fed to create it out of thin air, then the U.S. government would look something like Detroit right now.  Actually, it never would have gotten to this point.  There is no way that the government would have been able to accumulate over $16 trillion in debt from private investors.  We would have seen a balanced budget, or something very close to it, a long time ago.  The government would have to fund itself on the current tax collections.

Of course, if the government couldn't spend so much money, then a lot of problems would be solved.  Perhaps there never would have been a war in Iraq, along with many of the other wars.  Perhaps we wouldn't see disastrous monstrosities like Obamacare and Bushcare (prescription drugs).  Perhaps we wouldn't see billions of dollars being handed away to dictators in foreign countries.  The list could go on and on.

If the government were forced to spend, let's say, $1 trillion less per year than it is spending now, then that would be $1 trillion less in misallocated resources.  It would be money that could be saved, invested, and put into consumer products and services that are actually in demand in the marketplace.

Monetary inflation is disastrous in so many ways.  It works hand in hand with big government.  The two feed off of each other.  If there were no Fed to print digital money and if money were left to the marketplace, then the government would at least be forced to balance its budget.  This would mean much lower spending and it would mean an overall higher standard of living for the American people.