A Run on the US Government Is Coming

Tuesday, July 12, 2011
By Paul Martin

A Run on the United States Government

by Michael S. Rozeff
LewRockwell.com

A run is a mass withdrawal of cash funds from a borrower. We are in the midst of a continuing worldwide credit crisis, punctuated by “runs” of varying prominence and publicity.

These runs are rational, not panics and not due to quirks of psychology. They occur when investors realize that their funds are endangered in an institution. They try to get them out before they lose them.

The danger comes when the institution no longer is getting cash inflows in sufficient amounts to pay off all its obligations. In businesses, this comes about through sour investments. In governments, it comes about through wasteful spending that fails to be recovered in tax revenues.

In the year 2008, we saw runs on major Wall Street investment banks, money market mutual funds, domestic banks and foreign banks. Now we are seeing runs on governments in Europe such as Greece and Portugal. Sovereign debts are being sold down hard as investors flee from them, converting their bonds into currency.

Three years from the 2008 credit crisis, the Federal Reserve is still providing massive credit to U.S. banks. This props them up against bank runs. Every so often, the FED extends credit to foreign central banks to prop them up so that they can prop up their financial institutions. These are stopgaps. All of this propping up depends on faith in one currency: the U.S. dollar.

Runs on various institutions often show up as a flight into short-term U.S. treasuries, i.e, the dollar. This is because the treasury market is deep.

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