Is the U.S. Economy Powered by Dark Matter?

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Karl Smith is bullish on America:

“The Great Takedown” […] is the not yet realized bombshell that the US in general and the US Federal Government in particular made out like gangbusters in the Great Recession. I am still trying to tie this all together but a full accounting of US Treasury “profits” from the Global Financial Crisis look to number in the trillions.

This is based on a theory that if you value assets correctly, based on their financial return, the apparent multi-trillion dollar increase in the U.S. current account deficit over the past few decades hasn’t actually happened. It’s been offset by exports of “Dark Matter” that aren’t included in official accounts:

The US is a net provider of knowledge, liquidity and insurance. As the world became more global financially, the increasing asset value of these services underlies the spectacular increase in dark matter over the last two decades.

As a result, foreign-owned U.S. assets are worth less than official accounts suggest and U.S.-owned foreign assets are worth more. Karl is excited because Paul Krugman kinda sorta endorsed this theory today, but it’s worth noting that Krugman leaves open the question of whether there’s really been a mis-valuation of assets, or whether this is basically a dangerous leverage play that relies on using cheap U.S. debt to buy risky foreign assets, assuming that those risky assets will pay high returns forever.

Beats me. This is way above my pay grade. But interesting!


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