by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Washington Examiner deserves credit for the alliteration in this blog entry’s headline. James Langford writes for the Examiner about a growing concern among some leaders of corporate America. That concern focuses on government spending growth and federal debt.
The risk is growing that Corporate America soon will be starved of the fuel it needs because of federal government borrowing to cover deficit spending. And Washington has made those deficits bigger with recent tax and spending deals.
“The worry is that over time, the more the government borrows, the more demands the government places on a limited pool of savings, the more it will potentially crowd out some private, productive investments,” Joshua Feinman, chief economist at Deutsche Bank, told the Washington Examiner.
Already, the U.S. Treasury’s outstanding public debt of $14.2 trillion at the end of September accounted for a big portion of the $40.3 trillion bond market and dwarfed some $8.7 billion in corporate debt.
The Treasury is likely to have to increase the interest rate to attract buyers to the bonds it must issue to cover $1.5 trillion more debt created by the tax cuts Congress passed in December and a further $320 billion due to a spending agreement this month.
Economists agree that this creates a twofold challenge. Because federal securities are widely viewed as the safest form of debt, so higher rates on government paper would prompt some investors to sell their corporate bond holdings to buy Treasury instead.
To compensate, American companies would probably have to pay higher interest rates themselves. As with credit cards, those who could least afford to do so, the people with the worst credit, would have to pay the most. And all corporate borrowers would get a smaller bang for their buck.