The recent ten-to-two vote in the Virgin Islands legislature allowing for the establishment of the Disaster Recover Agency is a vote for transparent, accountable, equitable, measured and well audited governance.

The VI has taken the first step down the road towards economic growth leading to a fully developed territory after decades of non transparent and unaccountable governance. The Disaster Recovery Agency is a platform leading the territory towards great governance.

Okay. It is vital that laypersons understand the global borrowing narrative. And this is why: Borrowing inhabits a major portion of the economic universe of austerity and stimulus. Both economic cultures adopt specific postures on the matter of government borrowing, debt and public spending. The following story is a look at national debt from the perspective of austerity.

Now, the belief of economists of a supply-sided persuasion — the Disciples of Austerity — is that national debt of over 90 percent of gross domestic product is bad for the economy. However, national debt of over 100 percent of GDP is not unusual in the present world economy.


National debt

High government debt, which begins with annual deficits that grow higher and then become interminable like the United States debt model, eats up public revenues in the form of interest payments on the debt.

High national debt negatively impacts private savings by discouraging thrift and driving up personal credit. A highly leveraged economy is the result. The link between public and private debt is an established fact of economics. Thrift or ostentation are opposite cultures driven by government economic policy.

High leveraging means that internal and external debt levels, both consumer and business, are at a place of concern for lenders. The risk of mass bad debt rises.

Austerity advocates believe leveraging destroys business confidence, stifles public investment, cripples government, stops business innovation — and, eventually, national productivity declines.

The preceding leads to slower economic growth. The end result is recession or depression.


Bankruptcy risk

Ultimately — if this trend is uncontrolled — government is unable to pay interest on the debt. Government then either restructures the debt or goes bankrupt, as in the Greek model.

Banks that have lent money to the government are unable to recover the loaned cash. When this happens, global institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, or a cartel of international banks intervene to save a complete collapse of the country’s banking system.

These organisations help the government to restructure its debt by further lending. Frequently, stipulations are made that handcuff government to the policies and cultures of these international organisations.

Investors and savers may lose their money invested in the banks within the territory of the defaulting country. Banks limit withdrawals. The economy goes into depression. There is a great increase in business and personal bankruptcy. Investor and consumer confidence plunge.

Government is unable to pay its way in terms of providing essential state services and paying public servants. The economy collapses. High unemployment, business closure and deflation are the norm as consumer demand contracts heavily. There is a banking collapse. A financial meltdown can lead to civil and political unrest.


Greek situation

The preceding narrative is the central theme of the austerity culture on national debt. It is the reason Greece was left to “hang.” For austerity advocates, cutting spending and increasing taxation is the answer to deficit and debt control. Austerity is part of the creative destruction model that eventually leads to renewed economic growth.

However, stimulus advocates believe the preceding theory of unsustainable debt is deeply flawed. In a deflationary global environment where inflation is benign and the cost of borrowing low, public borrowing — even heavy borrowing — is the single way to stimulate a recessed and contracting economy.

Eventually, a recessed economy returns to growth, and government is able to reduce its debt and annual deficits from increasing national revenue.

Fiscal and economic stimulus alone leads to real GDP growth for Jack Stimulus. Government intervention and management of the economy is non negotiable. Post World War II, economic history is on Jack the Stimulus Advocate’s side. Stimulus works!


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