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IMF Calls on US to Get Its Gargantuan Debt Under Control

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Known for many decades after the Second World War as a key tool for putting economic pressure on developing nations and competitors of the US-led liberal rules-based order, the International Monetary Fund took a major step toward greater autonomy after successfully squashing a surprise plot by the Biden administration to oust its director in 2021.IMF deputy managing director Gita Gopinath has given Washington an unusually blunt warning about its debt and spending levels, demanding that the United States and other developed economies take steps to get debt under control.“For the US, we see ample ground for them to reduce the size of their fiscal deficits, also given the strength of the US economy,” Gopinath said in an interview with the Financial Times published Saturday.“The temptation to finance all spending through borrowing really is something that countries should avoid,” the official urged, emphasizing that Western economies have “no way of getting around” “fundamental reforms,” including to their social sectors and in the realm of taxation.Gopinath’s comments follow on the heels of an IMF forecast in April warning that America’s ballooning debt and deficit were “out of line with what is needed for long-term fiscal stability,” and that the projected US federal deficit of 7.1 percent for 2025 was more than three times the 2 percent average showing by other advanced economies, with US public debt expected to more than double by 2053.AmericasUS Heading to Fiscal ‘Train Wreck’ in 2025 Due to Large Debt, Spending Surges – Ex-World Bank Head13 May, 15:52 GMT“Loose fiscal policy in the United States exerts upward pressure on global interest rates and the dollar,” IMF Fiscal Affairs Department director Vitor Gaspar told reporters back in April. “It pushes up funding costs in the rest of the world, thereby exacerbating existing fragilities and risks.”

US debt and spending “raises short-term risks to the disinflation process, as well as longer-term fiscal and financial stability risks for the global economy,” IMF chief economist Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas added, warning that eventually, “something will have to give.”

The IMF is expected to publish its annual review of the state of the US economy later this month.Until relatively recently, the UN-affiliated international financial agency, which has its headquarters in Washington, DC, has avoided biting policy advice to the US, with its attention instead focused on pressuring developing countries to gut their social and welfare systems along neoliberal economic principles.Something apparently happened to shift that trajectory in 2021, when the Biden administration attempted what veteran Keynesian economist Joseph E. Stiglitz described as a “coup attempt” against IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva. The attempt to oust the Bulgarian-born economist failed.EconomyUS Senator Criticizes Uniparty for Borrowing Money to Finance War in Ukraine6 May, 03:07 GMTGeorgieva has gone on to express serious concerns with US debt and spending, calling the US’s $34 trillion in obligations out of control.“It cannot go like this forever, because the…burden on the US is going to cripple spending that is necessary to make for servicing the debt. To pay 17-plus percent in debt service is just mind-boggling,” she said in an interview in May. “There is opportunity cost to this money…it doesn’t go to emerging markets where it can finance jobs and business opportunities for American companies.”The US and its European, Canadian and Asian allies are just shy of a majority of votes in the IMF’s decision-making bodies, where voting rights are allotted based on funding for the institution. However, China, India, Brazil and other developing nations have recently grown their funding commitments, resulting in increasingly loud calls for quota reforms to give them and other rising economies voting powers in line with their economic clout. (The BRICS bloc of nations, for example, surpassed the G7 in gross domestic product in purchasing power parity terms in 2023, collectively accounting for 35.6 percent of the world’s GDP, compared to 30.3 percent for the G7.)IMF officials aren’t the only ones to sound the alarm about US debt levels. Representative Thomas Massie, one of the few members of Congress to consistently speak out about the issue, warned in an interview with Tucker Carlson this week that the US’s debt load is clocking in at $100,000 per second, and that Washington’s imperious policy around the world is only making things worse.“Right now, we’re able to finance it because we’re the world’s reserve currency. When we print more money, which we’re doing all the time, the Fed is doing that, we’re actually taxing the world. Everybody in the world who holds dollars gets a 3 percent ‘transaction fee.’…We can do that as long as they use our currency. But I think it’s going to end at some point,” Massie said.“They’ll tolerate 3 percent because we’re not backed by dollars. We’re backed by aircraft carriers right now. They’ll tolerate that 3 percent, but one of the things we recently did in Congress is, we passed something called the REPO Act, where we said ‘we’re just going to seize all of Russia’s sovereign assets in the United States’. Well, it turns out a lot of that is Treasury debt that they’d agreed to buy so that they can hold dollars. Here’s the problem with that. When people see that we’ve seized their money that they gave us in exchange for these Treasury notes, then other countries won’t want to buy our debt. It’s already happening. The price of a long-term bond that the Treasury puts out [has] already gone above 4 percent, it’s like over 4.5 percent, and they don’t want to buy them anymore because [while] we probably wouldn’t seize Great Britain’s assets…I could see a seizing of China’s assets,” Massie added.AnalysisUS Confiscation of Russian Assets Will ‘Supercharge’ De-Dollarization21 April, 02:02 GMTSpeaking at an economic forum in St. Petersburg on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin echoed the Kentucky congressman’s sentiments about why the US has been able to stay afloat despite its massive debt problems.“They have a current account deficit of a trillion dollars. What is this? I think, everyone will understand what I’m talking about. This is neocolonialism in its modern iteration. Using the monopoly position of the dollar, the United States consumes a trillion dollars a year more than it produces. They seem to be pumping out these resources from other countries,” Putin said. The Russian president added that the tens of trillions of dollars in US debt are “not backed by anything but confidence in the American economy.”

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