STREAMING LIVE: America’s Debt Overhang

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Schwartz_Symposium_Reinhart_&_Schwenninger.JPG
Big conference on America’s debt mess today. I’m moderating a big chunk.
Here is the rundown of a very interesting symposium thinking through the challenges of private debt overhang and the public debt debate.

The bursting of the housing and credit bubbles has left the United States with a huge debt overhang. Can we grow our way out of debt without setting off inflation? How can households reduce their debt levels without killing off demand? Does the debt pose a threat to the dollar?

Dealing with America’s Debt Overhang
Growth or Austerity, and Other Policy Choices

Introductory Remarks
9:00-9:15 am
Bernard L. Schwartz
CEO, BLS Investments, LLC
Steve Coll
President, New America Foundation
Staff Writer, New Yorker
Steve Clemons
Director, American Strategy Program, New America Foundation
Session 1: How serious is the debt overhang, what does it mean, and can we grow our way out of it?
9:15-10:15 a.m.
James K. Galbraithgalbraith2.JPG
Lloyd M. Bentsen Junior Chair in Government-Business Relations
Professor of Government, University of Texas
Thomas Palley
Schwartz Economic Growth Fellow, New America Foundation
Former Chief Economist, China Economic and Security Review Commission
Carmen Reinhart
Professor of Economics at the School of Public Policy and the Department of Economics, University of Maryland
Sherle R. Schwenninger
Director, Economic Growth Program, New America Foundation
moderator
Steve Clemons
Director, American Strategy Program, New America Foundation
Session 2: Alternatives to Austerity: Growth, Debt Relief or Reflation
10:15-11:30 am
Liaquat Ahamed
Author, Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World
Jim Jubak
Columnist, MSN Money
Christopher Hayes
Washington, DC Editor, The Nation
Fellow, New America Foundation
Rob Johnson
Director of the Economic Policy Initiative, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute
Former Managing Director, Soros Fund Management
Michael Lind
Policy Director, Economic Growth Program, New America Foundation
moderator
Sherle R. Schwenninger
Director, Economic Growth Program, New America Foundation
Session 3: America’s Debt, the Dollar, and the Global Economy
11:30 am-12:45 pm
Joerg Bibow
Professor of Economics, Skidmore College, and Research Scholar, Levy Institute
Zachary Karabell
President, River Twice Research
CNBC Contributor
Douglas Rediker
Director, Global Strategic Finance Initiative, New America Foundation
Arvind Subramanian
Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute and Center for Global Development
Senior Research Professor, Johns Hopkins University
moderator
Steve Clemons
Director, American Strategy Program, New America Foundation
— Steve Clemons

Comments

30 comments on “STREAMING LIVE: America’s Debt Overhang

  1. pauline says:

    How about the “Cash for Clunkers” program in its affect on America’s debt overhang?
    You know that program. . .the mountains of taxpayer cash for Bear Stearns, Fannie, Freddie, Citigroup, AIG. . .clunkers one and all.
    As written in yesterday’s Wash Post, “Bernanke said Tuesday that the recession is “very likely over,” offering his most explicit endorsement so far of the view, increasingly widespread among economists, that a recovery is underway. . .”
    Who really believes that? Want to buy some swamp land in Florida?
    So many families I visit in my area need true financial help in terms of better-paying jobs, lower costs for transportation, lower costs for education and health care. Ah, yes. . .health care.
    Now who in their right mind thinks the Senate will come with a truly reformed health care bill good for citizens like John and Jane Doe? And what does the rising costs of health care mean to the personal debt for the tens of millions of uninsured?
    The Big Clunkers have already got their handouts. Big Pharma and Big Insurance players’ immediate and future plans virtually guarantee no true reforms are coming, only more incentives for the bottom lines of Big Pharma and the State Farms of this country!
    I contend only a truly reformed health care bill with a public section (which then becomes law) will be the only basis for a longterm rebound in the US economy.
    Foreign wars based on lies have misspent the billions for true health care reform, while increasing personal and government debt soars.
    Houston, we’ve got a problem.

    Reply

  2. Dan Kervick says:

    I would also appreciate transcripts. I generally don’t have the time to listen to such a long exchange.

    Reply

  3. ... says:

    “Of course, as she was about to turn nine, I was extremely relieved that she had finally put her lazy, improper, and barely coherent writing habits to rest.”
    sounds like the daughter outgrew the father, lol…

    Reply

  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “makes sense poa… that explains why your posts are often gibberish…”
    Give it up, Pimples.
    We are far more adept at interpreting your semi-literate squeaks than it is reasonable of you to expect, so don’t rock the boat. And you will never be as proficient as I am in the art of insult.
    But don’t change a thing. Every time you post, it reminds me about the importance of a sound education. My daughter used to express herself with the same lazy indifference to proper composition and writing habits. But, fortunately, she grew out of it, with the assistance of a diminished allowance. Of course, as she was about to turn nine, I was extremely relieved that she had finally put her lazy, improper, and barely coherent writing habits to rest.

    Reply

  5. ... says:

    “the last thing I’m going to worry about is whether or not my gibberish is missing a word or two.”
    makes sense poa… that explains why your posts are often gibberish…

    Reply

  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “you might want to try spell check too, lol…”
    No I don’t think so. Unlike you, I am not concerned with typos, mispellings, and the like. I’ll be content with what my fifty years removed from kindergarten has taught me. Its enough for me that I try to get it right the first time. If I don’t, maybe I’ll get through my next post error free. Or not. Who really cares?
    But I can assure you, if I make a conscious decision to butcher the written English language, like you have done, the last thing I’m going to worry about is whether or not my gibberish is missing a word or two.

    Reply

  7. ... says:

    poa 611pm – “Did I say that, you dissingenuous jackass? Funny, I don’t remember saying that.”
    you might want to try spell check too, lol…

    Reply

  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “for one who likes calling others jackass regularly, you sure know how to be a regular one yourself”
    I’ve never called anyone “jackass regularly”. And the frequency with which I deposit spore is none of your business.

    Reply

  9. ... says:

    poa, for one who likes calling others jackass regularly, you sure know how to be a regular one yourself… keep it up… i admire questions for wasting as much time with you as he does… hey, what happens when one jackass talks to another? see poa and questions discussion on a few of the previous threads for examples….

    Reply

  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “If Steve says he doesn’t have time to follow through on a story to get the facts straight, corroborate details and the like, why is that prima facie evidence that Israel leans on Steve and says, “Don’t you go there.””
    Did I say that, you dissingenuous jackass? Funny, I don’t remember saying that.
    I suppose pointing out a fallacy posted at the AIPAC website is a “conspiracy theory” too, eh?
    And yes, for a foreign policy blog to ignore the unfolding events, in regards to our diplomacy with Israel, IS suspicious. But there are any number of possible reasons for the silence, and “Israel leaning on Steve” is probably not very high on the list. I made no accusations as to motive or driving factors, but did note my distrusful feelings about this inexplicable silence on an area of foreign policy that Steve professes is of particular interest to him. But you sure as shit are quick at the gun with your new found “conspiracy theory” schtick. And you will note, my comment was directed towards TWN, not specifically towards Steve. I guarantee there are any number of foreign policy “experts” out there that would LOVE an opportunity to guest post here about the ongoing developments between Obama, Israel, and the pro-Israel faction of the Democratic Party. So Steve’s extremely busy schedule does no quite cut it as an excuse for TWN to ignore the issue. Its ironic, in a commentary succeeding this one, Steve brings up the fractured Democratic concensus in regards to Afghanistan, yet has seen no reason to mention the open rebellion of Reid and Hoyer in regards to Obama’s position on Israel and the settlements.
    And, uh, hey questions, is AIPAC engaged in using a “conspiracy theory” to claim that Gibbs said “The Iranians have responsibilities to the international community to walk away from their BALLISTIC nuclear weapons program”??? Or am I advancing the “conspiracy theory” by pointing out that they’re lying through their teeth?
    ………….
    Pimples, have you thought about simply using spell check, or does your kindergarten manner of expression simply make the process too cumbersome??
    Kind of you to note Steve’s harried schedule. Now, if he’ll just devote his free moments to rearranging the format of this blog to accomodate your and Zathras’ literary vanity, all will be well in Pimplesville.

    Reply

  11. ... says:

    poa – i usually enjoy your contrary nature.. it reminds me of my own… i don’t really care whether the word their, is there or not.. as you ‘correctly’ point out, certain grammatical issues are not a high priority to me, but the issue of ‘content’ – broken sentences that one thought were complete that aren’t is a different story.. now i realize you like being contrary, so go ahead… a few of us here like the idea that zathras raised.. fill your boots with your contrariness on it all you want..
    steve – thanks for the update on that… i thought you were probably busy and it is as i thought… i like how the picture got changed to show an actual WOMEN speaking at the seminar… i wonder if that was just a coincidence, lol….

    Reply

  12. questions says:

    Questioning isn’t conspiracy theory. Assuming that all roads lead to Israel might have some traits not dissimilar to those that occasionally might be used when one is discussing the possibility of overinterpreting events in one way or another.
    If Steve says he doesn’t have time to follow through on a story to get the facts straight, corroborate details and the like, why is that prima facie evidence that Israel leans on Steve and says, “Don’t you go there.”
    Maybe it’s just that he wants to get his facts straight.

    Reply

  13. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    POA..IAEA and more forgeries…from yellowcake to green salt…http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=48435
    And then there’s this from the UN on Israel…
    http://rawstory.com/news/afp/Israel_violated_international_law_d_09152009.html

    Reply

  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    AIPAC….
    “The Iranians have responsibilities to the international community to walk away from their ballistic nuclear weapons program”
    AP…..
    “The Iranians have a responsibility to the international community to walk away from their illicit nuclear weapons program”
    So what the hell, eh? Whats a misquote among friends??? I mean hey, he’s only the spokesman for the White House, its not as though they’re misquoting the President,…uh…, is it?
    If AIPAC is true to form, the misquote will be removed fairly soon. Its happened on two other occassions when I have pointed out AIPAC bullshit on the TWN blog.

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gee, questions is on a roll. Now its a “conspiracy theory” to question why a foreign policy blog has had no comment, for weeks, on epic and historical developments and rifts in the Israel/United States alliance, to say nothing about an obvious and serious rift between Obama and his own party as it applies to our policies towards Israel.
    Yeah, questions, keep going. If there was any doubt you think through someone else’s thoughts, you are surely removing them. Whats the script this week, questions, “illicit” or “ballistic”?

    Reply

  16. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Heres an interesting tidbit, as long as I’ve managed to run us off course.
    A couple of days ago, on another thread, I made note of and AP article that quotes White House spokesman Gibbs talking about an “illicit nuclear weapons program” as if there is proof of such a program. In short, he is framing the issue in the exact manner that the Bush spokesman framed Iraq’s possession of WMD’s. With inaccurate statements, (lies). The AP article is headlined “White House wants talks to focus on Iran’s nukes” (What nukes????)
    http://www.aipac.org/130.asp#29054
    But the interesting thing is, while doing my daily perusal of the propaganda site that AIPAC runs, I noted the quote they attribute to Gibbs….
    “The Iranians have responsibilities to the international community to walk away from their ballistic nuclear weapons program”
    http://www.aipac.org/130.asp#29054
    Hmmm, so who is lying? We KNOW Gibbs is lying, or at the very least, distorting. (In Washington excusalogue, its known as “mispeaking”). There IS NO EVIDENCE of an Iranian “illicit nuclear weapons program”. But what of AIPAC’s misquote? In the past, as some of you may recall, I have caught the AIPAC website in blatant lies about Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Is AP misquoting Gibbs, or is AIPAC misquoting Gibbs? Both versions of Gibbs’ statements are alarming onto themselves, because they BOTH misrepresent the known truth. But is AIPAC trying to exagerate a threat that is already exagerated? Is this AIPAC’s attempt, in bringing in the word “ballistic”, to migrate the fear factor into the homes of America?
    Its time we stopped allowing Israel to frame the narrative. Gibbs use of the term “illicit” is the EXACT language that has been used on the AIPAC website for over two years now, to say nothing of his misleading reference to an Iranian “nuclear weapons program”. When will we see an end to Washington’s recital of the Israeli drafted script? And its interesting that Gibbs distortion was IMMEDIATELY posted on the AIPAC website, so it could be capitalized upon for its propaganda value. Doesn’t Israel and AIPAC lie to us enough without the able assistance of the White House spokesman Gibbs? But, hey, I guess in the endlessly prefaricating minds at AIPAC , Gibbs’ lie just wasn’t dishonest enough, so they had to tweak it a bit.
    And, on Steve’s comment. Palestinians are “displaced” almost daily by Israel. This is nothing new. What IS new, and DEMANDS attention, is high ranking members of the President’s own party traveling to Israel and publically stating direct dissent against their President’s own statements and policy advocations. THAT is the “foreign policy issue” inexplicably being ignored by this “foreign policy blog”. One more post about those naughty Israeli’s being “unhelpful” to those poor deprived Palestinians isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered. We KNOW the Palestinians are ill treated. We KNOW that thousands of them have been “displaced”. What we DON’t KNOW is how our President can conduct constructive foreign policy when his own party works earnestly to undermine his efforts.

    Reply

  17. questions says:

    Zathras,
    Thanks for the rejoinder! You saved me the effort! It’s such an automatic response to go right for the conspiracy/paranoia thing around here.

    Reply

  18. JamesL says:

    It’s ‘hangover” rather than overhang, isn’t it? The long lasting cheap red wine kind.

    Reply

  19. JamesL says:

    Steve, your post hit the tubes before mine. Thanks for the response.

    Reply

  20. JamesL says:

    I would welcome an edit feature and am unaware of the abuses one might pose. I have a 100% perfect typo score. I always include oNe.
    Some may see POA as the canary yelling about Israel, but I too am beginning to be concerned at the absence of this subject in Steve’s posts. Being busy is no excuse for avoiding conversation about the destabilizing force of Israel, its constant barrage of threats, its tendency to shoot first and figure out how to dress up the resulting carnage later, and the centrality of the Israel-Palestinian issue to the great majority of mid eastern tensions, not to mention the power Israel’s pugnacious stance continually contributes to Al Qaeda.

    Reply

  21. Steve Clemons says:

    I owe you folks a story on the displaced Palestinians. Will get some discussion up. I met an interesting long term Palestinian dweller/business owner living in East Jerusalem who has been fighting for many, many years with the Israeli government in the courts — and wanted to write more about his story as a portal into the subject. unfortunately, I have been overwhelmed by other issues and have been unable to build out that dimension of land abuse policies….so will try and get that out later, when i actually have something more concrete to report. In the mean time, I will get something up — no one is intimidating me not to. I have just been busy and also stuck on this Palestinian hotel story of someone in a bit of a fight with Moskowitz….so that will have to wait until I am either able to repiece together the full narrative or get over to East Jerusalem to meet this chap again.
    So, acknowledge the lapse — all best, steve

    Reply

  22. PissedOfffAmerican says:

    “some feature of editing up to 10- 15minutes after the fact, but no more would appeal to me as i am constantly making typos or missing a word here and their (sic)”
    Okay, so do you think, when you used the wrong spelling for “there”, I did not know what you meant?
    Actually, its kinda funny, really. Here you have a guy that musta missed his second grade lessons on punctuation and capitalization worrying about whether or not he is “making typos or missing a word here and their”.
    Gads, his very technique and style is FOUNDED in purposely “missing” elements of the written English language. Really, thats GOTTA bring a chuckle up from your gut, or you have no sense of irony.

    Reply

  23. ... says:

    i agree with poa… the fact steve mentioned he would do an article on the residents of jerusalem that were displaced and didn’t is only a partial reflection on any number of possibilities, but does underline the fact steve has not said anything about this since he paid lip service to it some time back… i know steve is busy… however acknowledging some of this would be helpful, although he doesn’t seem to want to..
    as for the edit feature, i agree with zathras.. some feature of editing up to 10- 15minutes after the fact, but no more would appeal to me as i am constantly making typos or missing a word here and their.. to rectify that would be helpful..

    Reply

  24. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Also, just in case it isn’t obvious: TWN’s silence about Israel is not inexplicable. It is the product of a conspiracy, to which I am party. Nothing can stop us, and soon we will rule the world. Unless, of course, those who object pay me immediately the sum of — one MILLION dollars”
    The fact that you were not able to respond with anything other than sarcasm only underscores my point. Considering Iran, there is no allied relationship more capable of aversely affecting the lives of ALL americans than our relationship with Israel. Israel’s open arrogance in regards to the settlement issue does not bode well for any optimism that Israel will exercise restraint in its dealing with Iran, as we have requested they do. The actions of Reid and Hoyer have abbetted the Israeli mindset that Obama’s own party will not stand with Obama in asking for concessions from Israel.
    For TWN to ignore this epic passing of unprecedented and historical interaction between Israel, the President of the United States, and his own party, is not only inexplicable, but suspicious as to motive. Walking down the mainstream media’s path is not exactly the best way to sow credibility.

    Reply

  25. Zathras says:

    To the direct question asked of me upthread, the answer is, I care. That’s enough.
    The point made that an editing feature is subject to abuse is a fair one. Software used by Dan Drezner in the months before he joined the FP stable permitted editing within 15 minutes of posting, a feature ideal for my purposes. On the FP site now, editing is evidently possible for an indefinite period, which might tempt some posters to take liberties.
    Also, just in case it isn’t obvious: TWN’s silence about Israel is not inexplicable. It is the product of a conspiracy, to which I am party. Nothing can stop us, and soon we will rule the world. Unless, of course, those who object pay me immediately the sum of — one MILLION dollars.

    Reply

  26. ... says:

    i concur with zathras over the idea of a transcript and an edit comment feature if possible here at twn..
    no holds barred expansion of debt is what makes america america! without the expansion of debt, there would be no expansion of many of the things that define the usa and the world today… everyone knows how large corporations loves expansion! it relies on debt.. perhaps the quality of debt is a concern.. ie – can any of it be paid back? remember the gov’t can always bail out the banks.. that is what happened in the past year and will certainly happen again in order that the ”expansion” can continue… the trick is for economists and central bankers to say how their is never any inflation at the same time as this expansion is always going on!! they always like to say they are ”keeping an eye” on inflation… readily available credit with no concern for the money ever being paid back defines modern day banking.. actually it is even better… ”’money”’ is all relative… it is a ”’confidence”’ thing… remain confident!! the us$ is worth the value of the military machine… stop the military machine for getting bigger and badder and watch the us$ drop.. this could be worse then something else dropping…
    i think questions is a male…he might be wearing a pink tie, but that would be about it…my reasoning is this: notice how it is only ”old” males on video’s like this.. it seems it’s a male trait to talk endlessly while going around in circles at the same time… i am guilty of it as well..

    Reply

  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Ron Paul: Federal government ‘one giant toxic asset’
    The US economy has not really recovered from last year’s financial crisis, and the policies of the Federal Reserve, the US’s central bank, are ensuring that the suffering will continue much longer than necessary, US House Rep. Ron Paul told CNN on Monday.
    “They claim there’s a recovery but the recovery ought to be measured by the people working. True unemployment is now 16 percent, and the people who lost money have not regained the money. The people who lost houses have not gotten their houses back. There is no recovery,” said Paul.
    continues…….
    http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/09/14/ron-paul-no-recovery/
    Interesting that the rare politician that actually speaks truth to power is always excluded from the debate, isn’t it?
    You see anyone on Steve’s list that has EVER had to worry about a power bill or suffered weeks of an abcessed tooth for lack of money? So these talking heads will get together and wax eloquent to each other in a competition to see who can sound the smartest while making sure they don’t step on any toes that fund their think tanks, media employers, or academic institutions.
    Even the high end is drying up to an extent not seen in my lifetime. And the middle range is history. Our plasterer just laid off eighty men. Our electrician, who employed twenty, is down to three. The mechanical outfit that does our plumbing may have to be cast aside, because the skill level of his plumbers, to set finish, has dropped proportionately with the wages they can afford to pay in this market.
    But have no fear, think tanks all over America, are talking…..and talking….and talking. After all, its what they do.
    Zathras, who really gives a shit about typos and grammatical errors? Are you posting here to express your opinion, or to impress people with your literary talents? Its obvious you’re literate, isn’t that enough?
    And the “editing feature” of which you speak is an albatross, that results in disjointed threads and inexplicable postings as people edit their original comments in order to clarify what they “really meant to say”. If you want an example, cruise over to Nina’s blog, where, smack dab in the middle of a thread, you will see “Post Removed By Author”. Irritating, to say the least.
    And, in addition, I suppose you don’t find TWN’s silence on the Israel/Obama/settlement issue inexplicable??? Here we have an open effort by members of the President’s own party to derail his foreign policy advocations, and TWN says nothing? Further, Israel flaunts its arrogance and power over United States foreign policy, with the COMPLICITY of the key members of the Democratic party, and TWN says nothing?
    Funny, I thought this was a foreign policy blog. Silly me, I musta missed if when Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank were beamed off the planet.

    Reply

  28. Paul Norheim says:

    A brilliant idea. To be able to correct typos etc for, say 15. minutes after
    submission would be great – and not only for Norwegians…

    Reply

  29. Zathras says:

    This sounds like an extremely interesting symposium. Will a transcript be available, or just the streaming video?
    Excuse the technical question, which is partly my contribution to Steve Clemons’s clever plot to divert attention from Israel and partly a function of how I absorb information. It takes an hour to listen to an hour, as the saying goes; transcripts are just easier for me to get through quickly.
    Since I’m off-topic anyway, let me add another technical question: the FP website now uses software that permits posters to edit their submissions for a period after they go up. It’s a welcome feature for people like me who normally write quickly under time pressure and are prone to make mortifying mistakes — substituting “that” for “than,” omitting question marks at the end of questions, that kind of thing. Could an editing feature be added easily to TWN, or would it require an overhaul of the site’s software?

    Reply

  30. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Apparently, someone broke into the offices at TWN and vandalized the office copy of the World Atlas. I have it on good authority that all the maps of Israel and its surrounds were torn out and absconded with.
    Perhaps, if we all pooled our resources, we could donate an Atlas to the TWN people, and they could once again comment on the epic events unfolding in regards to the Isr/Pal/USA dynamic, and the unprecedented efforts of the President’s own party to undermine his efforts towards a renewed and fair peace process.
    Or does TWN’s silence imply a support for Reid and Hoyer’s efforts, over and above Obama’s? If so, why?

    Reply

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