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The U.S. Has Been Defaulting On Its Debt For Years And That’s Not Changing Anytime Soon

Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – If we go back to October the 11th, interview given by James Grant of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, you would have found this posted at the Washington Compost under the headline “Has The United States Ever Defaulted?”  Grant’s answer is: Yes, and it’s going to default again; it’s inevitable.  Check out today’s transcript for the rest…

 

Begin Mike Church Show Transcript

Mike:  If we go back to October the 11th, interview given by James Grant of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer, you would have found this posted at the Washington Compost under the headline “Has The United States Ever Defaulted?”  Grant’s answer is: Yes, and it’s going to default again; it’s inevitable.

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[reading]

article-v-pamphlet-adThe U.S. government defaulted after the Revolutionary War, and it defaulted at intervals thereafter. Moreover, on the authority of the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, the government means to keep right on shirking, dodging or trimming, if not legally defaulting.

Default means to not pay as promised, and politics may interrupt the timely service of the government’s debts. The consequences of such a disruption could — as everyone knows by now — set Wall Street on its ear. But after the various branches of government resume talking and investors have collected themselves, the Treasury will have no trouble finding the necessary billions with which to pay its bills. The Federal Reserve can materialize the scrip on a computer screen.

Things were very different when America owed the kind of dollars that couldn’t just be whistled into existence. By 1790, the new republic was in arrears on $11,710,000 in foreign debt. These were obligations payable in gold and silver. Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the Treasury, duly paid them. In doing so, he cured a default.

Hamilton’s dollar was defined as a little less than 1/20 of an ounce of gold. So were those of his successors, all the way up to the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. But in the whirlwind of the “first hundred days” of the New Deal, the dollar came in for redefinition. The country needed a cheaper and more abundant currency, FDR said. By and by, the dollar’s value was reduced to 1/35 of an ounce of gold. [Mike: Grant is restating what Professor McCulloch said.]

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By any fair definition, this was another default. Creditors both domestic and foreign had lent dollars weighing just what the Founders had said they should weigh. They expected to be repaid in identical money.

The “American default,” as this piece of domestic stimulus was known in foreign parts, provoked condemnation in the City of London. “One of the most egregious defaults in history,” judged the London Financial News. “For repudiation of the gold clause is nothing less than that. The plea that recent developments have created abnormal circumstances is wholly irrelevant. It was precisely against such circumstances that the gold clause was designed to safeguard bondholders.”

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