Today’s Flash Back Friday comes from Episode 265, originally published in June 2012.
Jason Hartman hosts Professor Laurence Kotlikoff, author of The Clash of Generations: Saving Ourselves, Our Kids, Our Economy, regarding the problems with the economy and the effect that the astronomical national debt and government spending will have on generations to come.
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Professor Kotlikoff paints a picture of the magnitude of these issues very clearly, explaining that the fiscal gap is $211 trillion. He explains that we would have to raise every federal tax immediately and permanently by 64 percent or cut all non-interest spending by the government (Medicare, Social Security, defense spending, etc) by 40 percent. “The country is broke, totally broke,” says Professor Kotlikoff. He emphasizes that this applies to today, not 75 years down the road.
Jason and Professor Kotlikoff also discuss why the 2007 quadrupled money base through money printing hasn’t hit the streets yet in the form of hyperinflation. Essentially, banks are being bribed to hold money reserves by the Fed.
In simplistic terms, the Federal Reserve prints the money, lends it out at very low interest rates to the banks, and then the banks deposit it back with the Federal Reserve and get a higher interest rate. This makes banks more solvent over time without the public ever knowing what is going on. Professor Kotlikoff also talks about a proposal to fix the financial system, which he refers to as a fragile system, presently a “trust me” banking system where the public is unaware of what the banks are doing with their money.
Laurence J. Kotlikoff is a William Fairfield Warren Professor at Boston University, a Professor of Economics at Boston University, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the Econometric Society, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, President of Economic Security Planning, Inc., a company specializing in financial planning software, a frequent columnist for Bloomberg and Forbes, and a blogger for The Economist and The Huffington Post.
Professor Kotlikoff received his B.A. in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1973 and his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University in 1977. From 1977 through 1983 he served on the faculties of economics of the University of California, Los Angeles and Yale University. In 1981-82 Professor Kotlikoff was a Senior Economist with the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.
Professor Kotlikoff is author or co-author of 15 books and hundreds of professional journal articles. His most recent books are The Clash of Generations (co-authored with Scott Burns, MIT Press), Jimmy Stewart Is Dead (John Wiley & Sons), Spend ‘Til the End, (co-authored with Scott Burns, Simon & Schuster), The Healthcare Fix (MIT Press), and The Coming Generational Storm (co-authored with Scott Burns, MIT Press).
Professor Kotlikoff publishes extensively in newspapers, and magazines on issues of financial reform, personal finance, taxes, Social Security, healthcare, deficits, generational accounting, pensions, saving, and insurance. Professor Kotlikoff has served as a consultant to the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Harvard Institute for International Development, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Swedish Ministry of Finance, the Norwegian Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Italy, the Bank of Japan, the Bank of England, the Government of Russia, the Government of Ukraine, the Government of Bolivia, the Government of Bulgaria, the Treasury of New Zealand, the Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Joint Committee on Taxation, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, The American Council of Life Insurance, Merrill Lynch, Fidelity Investments, AT&T, AON Corp., and other major U.S. corporations.