“You have so little room to respond during the next crisis,” MacGuineas says.
In reality, though, it’s unlikely bond investors will hesitate to finance additional U.S. spending to combat another downturn, Ashworth says. After all, he says, even if U.S. debt-to-GDP approaches 100 percent, that’s still well below 130-percent-plus ratios in countries such as Italy and Japan.
Chris Edwards, senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute, notes that while the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio is lower, its economy, and debt level, are much larger. He calls the deficit buildup “disastrous.”
Capital Economics’ Neil Shearing is more worried about political resistance in Congress to a massive stimulus if the nation’s debt burden hits nosebleed levels.
Zandi isn’t concerned. “If we get into a mess, policymakers will ignore the deficit and do what they need to do,” he says.
Yet MacGuineas says the patience of bondholders and lawmakers eventually will run thin.
“We don’t know when that is, and we don’t want to try to find out.”
Recent tax and spending legislation made our fiscal outlook worse, said Foundation CEO Michael Peterson. https://t.co/Z7r14c2fwm
— Peterson Foundation (@pgpfoundation) February 6, 2019