Terrified About Our Fiscal Situation Yet?

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on June 18, 2010

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If not, you should be:

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said the U.S. may soon face higher borrowing costs on its swelling debt and called for a “tectonic shift” in fiscal policy to contain borrowing.

“Perceptions of a large U.S. borrowing capacity are misleading,” and current long-term bond yields are masking America’s debt challenge, Greenspan wrote in an opinion piece posted on the Wall Street Journal’s website. “Long-term rate increases can emerge with unexpected suddenness,” such as the 4 percentage point surge over four months in 1979-80, he said.

Greenspan rebutted “misplaced” concern that reducing the deficit would put the economic recovery in danger, entering a debate among global policy makers about how quickly to exit from stimulus measures adopted during the financial crisis. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said this month that while fiscal tightening is needed over the “medium term,” governments must reinforce the recovery in private demand.

“The United States, and most of the rest of the developed world, is in need of a tectonic shift in fiscal policy,” said Greenspan, 84, who served at the Fed’s helm from 1987 to 2006. “Incremental change will not be adequate.”

The problem, of course, is that the American political system seems to be incapable of producing the “tectonic shift” necessary to respond to the burgeoning fiscal crisis. This is especially the case, given the makeup of the current Administration.

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