The Fiscal Cliff Compromise

Well at least you can watch the bowl games without worry today. We have a grand bargain to avert the fiscal cliff, or at least we have what passes for a grand bargain in these meager times. Ezra Klein has the tiny details.

Greg Mankiw puts the current thrust of fiscal reform in perspective.

The fiscal deal struck last night makes one thing clear: President Obama must have really hated the recommendations of the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson commission that he appointed. The commission said that we needed to reform entitlement programs to rein in spending and that increased tax revenue should come in the form of base broadening and lower marginal tax rates. The deal appears to offer no entitlement reforms, no tax reform, and higher marginal tax rates. After all the public discussion over the past couple years of what a good fiscal reform would like like, it is hard to imagine a deal that would be.

Arnold Kling suggests the most likely final solution.

To put this another way, I think that long-term government bonds are fake wealth these days. There has to be some kind of default on future government commitments. There is an off chance that the future commitments that get cut will be entitlements. There is an even more remote chance that the government will find tax revenue to cover all of its commitments. We can inflate away some of our past debt, but since our projected future deficits are even higher, inflation does not make the problem go away. So I think that it is likely that we will get some sort of default. The fake wealth will be marked down at some point in the future, either through inflation or default.

No sentient being assumed that anything meaningful was going to come of these negotiations. The question today is if it’s sane to assume that any solution can be arrived at short of Kling’s default event.

About Tom Lindmark 401 Articles

I’m not sure that credentials mean much when it comes to writing about things but people seem to want to see them, so briefly here are mine. I have an undergraduate degree in economics from an undistinguished Midwestern university and masters in international business from an equally undistinguished Southwestern University. I spent a number of years working for large banks lending to lots of different industries. For the past few years, I’ve been engaged in real estate finance – primarily for commercial projects. Like a lot of other finance guys, I’m looking for a job at this point in time.

Given all of that, I suggest that you take what I write with the appropriate grain of salt. I try and figure out what’s behind the news but suspect that I’m often delusional. Nevertheless, I keep throwing things out there and occasionally it sticks. I do read the comments that readers leave and to the extent I can reply to them. I also reply to all emails so feel free to contact me if you want to discuss something at more length. Oh, I also have a very thick skin, so if you disagree feel free to say so.

Enjoy what I write and let me know when I’m off base – I probably won’t agree with you but don’t be shy.

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