Toxic assets has become a popular term for certain types financial assets whose value has fallen significantly and for which there is no longer a functioning market, so that such assets cannot be sold at a price satisfactory to the possessor of those assets which leaves those possessors in a very bad position since they’re holding assets that often cannot be sold except at a significant loss.
To-date this term has mostly been used to describe a subset of securities that were based upon mortgage-based derivatives. I wonder though if people should start thinking of America’s debt in similar terms, at least in the longer term.
The US government, especially the bloated federal government, is and has been living well beyond its means. Expenditures consistently outpace revenues and it’s reached the point where the government and the pundits are all claiming that, if we don’t borrow more money we’ll default on the debt that we already have. Hence, the brouhaha over the current debt ceiling argument in Congress.
In the near-term it would be ridiculously hyperbolic to describe the American government’s debt as a toxic asset but that doesn’t mean that it should objectively be considered a sinecure for investment either. Moody’s, Standard & Poor, and the International Monetary Fund would be right to downgrade US Treasury Bonds and all US Denomination backed debt. A continued AAA credit rating is unwarranted given the ongoing fiscal irresponsibility of America’s government.
However, if the American government doesn’t rediscover fiscal responsibility it’s debt may well in the years to come be classed as a toxic asset. That’s happened to plenty of other nations through the course of even recent history.