The cost of borrowing may increase soon, say market watchers who flagged this news:
Bill Gross, who runs the world’s biggest bond fund at Pacific Investment Management Co., eliminated government-related debt from his flagship fund last month as the U.S. projected record budget deficits.
Pimco’s $237 billion Total Return Fund last held zero government-related debt in January 2009. Gross had cut the holdings to 12 percent of assets in January, according to the Newport Beach, California-based company’s website. The fund’s net cash-and-equivalent position surged from 5 percent to 23 percent in February, the highest since May 2008. Yields on Treasuries may be too low to sustain demand for U.S. government debt as the Federal Reserve approaches the end of its second round of quantitative easing, Gross wrote in a monthly investment outlook posted on Pimco’s website on March 2. Gross mentioned that Pimco may be a buyer of Treasuries if yields rise to attractive levels.
What this means, of course, is pressure on the U.S. government to offer higher interest rates on its bonds. Gross says that the rates need to go up about 1.5 percent to reflect market realities. And market realities, ignored for the past few years, are going to start reasserting themselves as “quantitative easing” ends and the Fed stops buying U.S. debt that the markets don’t want. As things stand, interest on the debt (at about 6 percent of all federal spending) is equal to about one-third of all discretionary spending combined (about 19 percent of the budget). Current forecasts have debt-service costs alone amounting to nearly $1 trillion by 2020, consuming 20 percent of all federal tax revenues. That’s a vicious circle: Bigger deficits add to the total debt, which drives up the cost of debt service, which creates bigger deficits, shampoo, rinse, repeat, and wake up in Argentina circa 19992002...
Meaning that major reform of the entitlement programs is not optional. It is do or die.
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