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By Jeff Nielson (Reporter)
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Is Debt Jubilee Already A Done-Deal?

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Debt Jubilee is coming. That is to say, Debt Jubilee is coming to the Western world. This is not a prediction, and thus no crystal balls, or other fancy, forecasting techniques are needed. Rather, all that one requires is a rudimentary grasp of the current level of Western insolvency, and the capacity to operate a calculator.

This has been the general subject matter of many previous commentaries. In specific terms, one of these pieces itemized the West’s Deadbeat Debtors club, as measured in those nation’s overall debt-to-GDP ratios:

Germany  188%

Canada  221%

Austria  225%

U.S.  233%

Finland  238%

Norway  244%

UK  252%

Italy  259%

France  280%

Sweden  290%

Denmark  302%

Spain  313%

Greece  317%

Netherlands  325%

Belgium  327%

Portugal  358%

Ireland  390%

Laughably, with a national debt-to-GDP level of ‘only’ 188%; Germany is now the West’s poster child for “fiscal responsibility”. That mantle used to be firmly attached to Canada, the only major economy of the West’s Deadbeat Debtors to record a series of budget surpluses in the last quarter century. But then Canada elected Stephen Harper and the economy-killing Conservatives. It should further be noted that the “official” number for the U.S. is a laughable understatement of the actual level of U.S. indebtedness — which is well over 300%.

Back when we had some degree of sanity and honesty in the reporting of the mainstream media, it was acknowledged that any debt-to-GDP measure above 100% represented “a debt crisis” – a nation whose entire economic output, for one whole year, could not retire all of its debts. Here readers with a less-sophisticated understanding of economics need to understand that GDP (i.e. “Gross Domestic Profit”) is not a measure of the profitability of our economies, but rather simply a measurement of their gross, annual economic activity.

The closest analogy would be a retailer which carried a debt load greater than 100% of annual revenues. The actual profits of the retailer are only some tiny fraction of its revenues. Thus having a debt load greater than 100% of total revenues implies a company which is past the “point of no return.”

It would have to devote many years (or even decades) of profits to ever pay off those debts. However, the Catch-22 is that by the time that any retailer ever accumulated such a mountain of debt, the interest payments on that debt, alone, would make profitability impossible. The retailer debtor just sinks further and further into debt, until forced into bankruptcy.


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