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Ignore All Debt Ceiling News

Ignore All Debt Ceiling News

James Altucher

Posted May 22, 2023

James Altucher

There's a certain flair to the endless game of chicken that the U.S. government plays with its debt ceiling.

Picture it: Uncle Sam’s sitting at a poker table, eyeballing his creditors, every chip on the table representing the country's debt.

And just when you think he's about to fold, as the debt ceiling looms, he flashes that age-old grin, reassuring us, "Hey, I've got this! Never defaulted on my debt, not once!"

Something akin to this myth has been echoed, regurgitated, and passed down from one Treasury Department to another, regardless of party lines.

Red, blue, elephant, donkey, it's all the same tune.

They'd have you believe Uncle Sam's credit rating is as pristine as the freshly fallen snow, an undisturbed expanse of trustworthiness.

But here's the hitch:

It's simply not true.

As this article in The Hill, written by Alex J. Pollock, points out…

The US has technically defaulted FOUR times in its history.

First time was 1862, when the Civil War was gulping down dollars like a starved dog at a sausage factory, leaving the Treasury grasping at straws.

As a result, the government was forced to default on its demand notes and the U.S. government started spewing greenbacks like a geyser in Yellowstone.

Then, there was 1933.

Before then, the government solemnly promised to repay their gold bonds in actual gold.

But alas, when the time came, they handed over a fistful of depreciated paper money instead.

The Supreme Court declared that the government, like a stingy diner, could refuse to pay the bill.

So much for faith and credit!

Fast forward to 1968…

"Sure, you can exchange this for one silver dollar," the government promised, doling out their silver certificate paper dollars. But when the masses came calling for their silver, Uncle Sam decided he had more urgent errands to run. They refused to honor it.

Finally, 1971…

That was when Uncle Sam decided he was no longer in the mood to exchange dollars for gold under the Bretton Woods Agreement.

"It's only temporary," said President Nixon, with a wink.

But the "temporary" suspension became permanent, giving the Federal Reserve a limitless canvas to print dollars.

That said…

Sure, they’re lying, but…

Should you worry?

As James reveals in his featured article below: the answer is NO.

Don’t lose sleep.

James explains why below.

Read on.

Why I’m Ignoring All Debt Ceiling News

James Altucher

There are few certainties in life.

Once upon a time, people thought the earth was flat and that lightning came from the gods.

Growing up, we were all told that Pluto was a planet… then in 2006 some scientists got together and decided it wasn’t.

It’s harder than ever to know what to believe.

Ben Franklin once said that the only certainties in life were death and taxes.

I’d like to add a third certainty - the media will take advantage of every possible opportunity to scare viewers.

It’s a sad truth. Humans are wired to be on alert for danger. The media capitalizes on this by manipulating the public with fear to capture their attention.

Unfortunately, most people don’t know better.

So when I see reports in the news about the US potentially defaulting on its debt, I can’t help but roll my eyes.

The craziest part is that the media recycles this story every 12-24 months.

And it always plays out exactly the same. Politicians shout about never giving in and how the other side is to blame. The news gets more frequent and louder in the days before the deadline. Ultimately, a deal is reached in the final hours.

Everyone breathes a big sigh of relief, talks about how it was a close call, life goes on and (usually) the market goes up.

Sadly, because most people don’t know better, it's all the financial media will be talking about for the next two weeks until the deadline is reached on June 1.

Historically speaking, the US has raised its debt ceiling 77 times. On a historical basis, there is a zero percent chance the US will default on its debt.

Unfortunately, as long as the news keeps pushing the story, the market is going to bounce up and down in response.

However, despite the news, I’m bullish on the long-term outcome of the economy.

With bank failures seemingly behind us, I believe that stocks are cheap compared to their long-term potential. Long-term investors can capitalize on these swings by focusing on quality stocks currently trading at a discount.

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