Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End is an eminently useful book. Contrary to the implication of his title, Gawande’s subject isn’t death—the dying aren’t dead, after all, they are living. Rather, his purpose is to help readers navigate the treacherous shoals of medical and caregiving choices that we or loved ones face as we grow Read More ›
Raw, vegan, gluten-free, paleo. In Seattle, where elimination diets abound, I’m a convinced and happy omnivore. I gladly eat fresh melons from Mexico (it helps the Mexican economy and consoles me on a rainy day) and I also shop at the farmer’s market for anything local they have on offer — maybe somebody’s artisanal chèvre cheese or heritage tomatoes. Our Read More ›
Niall Ferguson correctly states that "The Shutdown Is a Sideshow—Debt Is the Threat" (op-ed, Oct. 5). Financial markets teach us that over time there is a reversion to the mean or average for interest rates. As the U.S. government debt clock strikes $17 trillion, the current financing cost of the $12.6 trillion portion of interest-bearing debt is about 1.98%, or $246 billion annually. The long-term average yield on two-year and five-year Treasurys is about 5.98% and 6.25% respectively. So a simple reversion to that average would more than triple U.S. debt service costs to $750 billion annually. Since Washington seems unable to cut spending in any significant way, the additional half-trillion-dollar debt-service costs from interest rate normalization likely would be financed by borrowing.
But when markets digest that the U.S. borrows not only to offset deficits but also to cover a large portion of its outstanding debt-service costs, there could be a rude awakening and a breach in confidence in the creditworthiness of the U.S. Such a crisis would likely cause federal debt-service costs to skyrocket well above historic norms—triggering a downward-spiraling liquidity crisis ending with the U.S. government unable to finance its obligations.
Scott S. Powell
Author and philosopher Jay Richards says that well-meaning but vastly harmful government housing policies helped cause the financial crisis and now, five years later, the government is even more deeply involved in the housing market.
“In Defense of Irreligious Bioethics” (Murphy 2012) was one of the most perplexing articles I have ever read in a bioethics journal. Mostly, the author complains bitterly about the unjust and unpredictable manner in which the nonexistent deity answers or ignores prayer. Indeed, the article struck me as the written equivalent of a man standing on a box in Hyde Read More ›