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Disaster, By the Numbers

Disaster, By the Numbers

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at Financial Armageddon 

Bomb with a Lit Fuse

I’ve leveled many criticisms at the so-called experts in the financial community. Apart from being blatantly conflicted, many wouldn’t know how to analyze their way out of a paper bag even if their lives depended on it. Generally speaking, they are good communicators but lousy thinkers.

But as with most generalizations, there are exceptions to the rule. Some eloquent experts do know what they are talking about, including David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff, Albert Edwards and Dylan Grice of Societe General, Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust, and John Hussman of Hussman Funds.

Based on what he has to say, another person who should probably be added to that very short list is the individual interviewed in the following Yahoo! Finance Tech Ticker report, "America’s Ticking Debt Bomb: Like Greece, ‘Only Worse,’ Pento Says":

America’s debt bomb is ticking and is likely to detonate in five years or less, says Michael Pento, senior market strategist at Delta Global Advisors.

"It could be much sooner when we hit the debt wall," Pento says. "My opinion doesn’t matter: Math tells me we’re in a serious problem."

The math Pento refers to is the Treasury Department’s recent estimate that total U.S. debt will top $13.6 trillion this year and rise to 102% of GDP by 2015. Moreover, the publicly traded debt (debt excluding intra-governmental obligations) will rise to $14 trillion by 2015, up from "just" $7.5 trillion in 2009.

At $14 trillion, the interest payments on the public debt will total about $1 trillion in 2015, he continues; even assuming solid growth and low inflation, that would equal about 30% of total government revenue. "What do you think that does to our bond market?," Pento wonders. "It leads to a dollar crisis and a bond market crisis. That’s why gold refuses to go down. "

Demand for U.S. Treasuries and the dollar currently remain high, especially in the wake of the euro’s slow-motion implosion. Pento admits timing this debt crisis is difficult but predicts we’ll be "like Greece, but worse," in four years or less, unless we make a sudden turn toward austerity.


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