Deficits, Debt, And Why $32 Trillion Matters

While Washington continues a seemingly unbridled spending spree under the assumption “more spending” is better, debts and deficits matter. To better understand the impact of debt and deficits on economic growth, we must know where we came from. The chart shows the 10-year annualized growth rate of the economy over time.

deficits gdp inflation

What should immediately jump out at you is that the 10-year average economic growth rate was around 8%, except for the Great Depression era, from 1900 through 1990. However, there has been a marked decline in economic growth since then.

The question is, why? Of course, that question has been a contentious debate over the last several years as debt and deficit levels in the U.S. have soared higher.

Causation? Or Correlation?

As I will explain, the case can be made the surge in debt is the culprit of slowing rates of economic growth. However, we must start our discussion with the Keynesian theory, which has been the main driver of fiscal and monetary policies over the last 30 years.

Keynes contended that ‘a general glut would occur when aggregate demand for goods was insufficient, leading to an economic downturn resulting in losses of potential output due to unnecessarily high unemployment, which results from the defensive (or reactive) decisions of the producers.’

In such a situation, Keynesian economics states that government policies could be used to increase aggregate demand, thus increasing economic activity and reducing unemployment and deflation. Investment by government injects income, which results in more spending in the general economy, which in turn stimulates more production and investment involving still more income and spending. The initial stimulation starts a cascade of events, whose total increase in economic activity is a multiple of the original investment.”