This article is excerpted from my new book Banking on the People: Democratizing Money in the Digital Age, available in paperback.—EB
The U.S. federal debt has more than doubled since the 2008 financial crisis, shooting up from $9.4 trillion in mid-2008 to over $22 trillion in April 2019. The debt is never paid off. The government just keeps paying the interest on it, and interest rates are rising.
In 2018, the Fed announced plans to raise rates by 2020 to “normal” levels—a fed funds target of 3.375 percent—and to sell about $1.5 trillion in federal securities at the rate of $50 billion monthly, further growing the mountain of federal debt on the market. When the Fed holds government securities, it returns the interest to the government after deducting its costs; but the private buyers of these securities will be pocketing the interest, adding to the taxpayers’ bill.