President Jackson Demoted

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Here’s what they *should* say why President Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, was bumped to the backside of the $20 bill:

He was moved to the back of the Twenty because he paid off the national debt…(Yes, you read that right).

As counter-intuitive as it sounds, paying off the national debt, running federal gov’t budget surpluses, a spending sequester, are all glaring examples of why that federal-gov’t-is-the-same-as-a-household groupthink has it all backwards. To pay off the national debt, President Jackson’s administration ran sustained budget surpluses for 7 straight years (meaning sustained public sector deficits was replaced with sustained private sector deficits)…

Two years later, the Panic of 1837, the U.S. economy went into a depression, banks became insolvent, business failures rose, cotton prices dropped, and unemployment dramatically increased…

That depression lasted for four years until 1841 when, the national debt went back to increasing again (meaning private sector deficits switched back to private sector surpluses), and the economy began to rebound…

Not convinced? Take a look at these dates:

1817-1821

1829-1836

1852-1857

1867-1873

1880-1893

1920-1930

These dates above were the 6 periods in American history when the US federal gov’t had substantial yearly budget surpluses meaning, at the very same time, and by accounting identity, the non-federal-gov’t (everybody else) was being subjected to ‘savings deficits’. Next look at these dates:

1819

1837

1857

1873

1893

1929

These dates above were the starting years of all six economic depressions in U.S. history. Now let’s put all the dates together:

1817-1821 federal gov’t surpluses and the 1819 Depression

1829-1836 federal gov’t surpluses and then the 1837 Depression

1852-1857 federal gov’t surpluses and then the 1857 Depression

1867-1873 federal gov’t surpluses and then the 1873 Depression

1880-1893 federal gov’t surpluses and then the 1893 Depression

1920-1930 federal gov’t surpluses and then the 1929 Great Depression

Coincidence?

Here’s another example of federal gov’t surpluses having its fingerprints on economic downturns: The 2001 recession was also preceded by federal gov’t budget surpluses. The ‘Bush recession’ was triggered by the ‘Clinton surpluses’. In my opinion however, the economy was very strong during Clinton’s second term, not to mention that dot com internet stock hysteria was reaching full ‘silly-crazy’ stage, so in that particular case, those short-lived surpluses were justified, because they were analogous to tapping the brakes. Masterfully, that 2001 recession was a mild one because Clinton’s successor, incoming President George W. Bush, with both the Congress and the Fed Chair Alan Greenspan’s blessings, quickly resumed federal budget deficits with tax cuts passed on June 7, 2001 (a rare example of both monetary and fiscal policymakers being in sync and turning their launch keys at the same time)…

Alexander Hamilton, the first United States Secretary of the Treasury, who, it was also announced today, will remain on the front of the $10 bill, said in 1790, “A national debt, if it is not excessive, will be to us a national blessing.” (No mention of paying it off, in fact, he argued for the usefulness of safe, easily traded federal debt, that would provide a store of value, as collateral for deals, as a lubricant for business activity, making the economy more productive, which he predicted would help our new nation someday surpass England as a world power)…

Unless you truly need to slam the brakes on growth, and you actually want to slow down the velocity of those twenty dollar bills, sustained and prolonged federal gov’t surpluses throughout American history are a fiscal policymaking case study of What Not To Do.

 

 

Eddie D  <eddiedelz@gmail.com>

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