Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Regular readers may recall that despite residing in Europe (and, briefly,
What he’s come up with is a modest proposal that should restore the fiscal health of the
The first port of call is to take profit on a number of 18th century transactions conducted by the US Government. Top of the list is the
Next up on the auction block is the Gadsden Purchase, which would sell
The final bit of profit-taking would involve selling
(Two asides on this one. The national security implications of giving Russia a foothold on the North American continent can be dismissed, as Canada represents a large-and soon to be growing, as you’ll see below- buffer between the US and Russian Alaska. It’s also worth noting that under Macro Man’s calculations, the CAGR on the Alaska Purchase (6.7%) is superior to that of the
Having done the easy work in selling back some assets to their “original” owners (sadly, the Native Americans can’t afford the price tag so are out of the running), the US Government will have to find buyers for some of the United States’ other saleable holdings. Naturally, they’ll need to enlist the help of investment bankers, who are blessed with a unique ability to match buyer and seller for hard-to-value assets. Ordinarily, Macro Man would suggest that the banks waive their fees for helping the government- call it a long-overdue payment of the premium for the Greenspan/Bernanke put. Given the current fragile state of the financial system, however, hefty investment banking fees are just the thing to restore institutions like Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers back to health.
To expedite the healing process, Macro Man has come up with a roadmap for more US Government capital raising. The first port of call should be
At this juncture, Macro Man's scenario analysis suggests that Texas, seeing the fire sale elsewhere in the country, would not want to be messed with, and thus secede from the Union, reverting to an independent republic. Frankly, Macro Man isn't sure that the Texans will be missed...after all, each of the Texan presidents (Eisenhower, LBJ, Bush I and II) have seen the US embroiled in some sort of military conflict. Good riddance!
Anyhow, another potentially rich source of funds are the world's oil producers, who have a surfeit of dollars that they'd like to get rid of- a match made in heaven! Canada should be a willing buyer for Michigan (if only to acquire a successful hockey team), Washington state (Seattle would fit in nicely with B.C. culture), Maine (you could argue that it used to be part of what is now Canada), and Vermont (appease Quebeckers by acquiring another territory with a French name.) These states should raise an additional $1.1 trillion. Selling all of these Northern states would also increase the buffer between the remaining United States and Russian Alaska.
Illinois could be sold to the cash-rich Abu Dhabi Investment Authority in a deal that can only be described as win/win. The US would raise $877 billion, and Abu Dhabi would get access to a cooler climate, loads of fresh water (in Lake Michigan), and immediately catch up to Dubai in the cool skyscraper sweepstakes.
Utah, meanwhile, could be sold to the Saudis. Similar to the deal above, the state's cool climate would be a welcome change from the searing heat of the Arabian peninsula. Moreover, Utah's reputation for clean living and penchant for polygamy would represent familiar territory to the House of Saud. At $152 billion, the price would be a snip.
Idaho could be sold for $73 billion to Norway, for whom the cold weather and mountainous terrain would be just like home. Although the UK budget is stretched to the breaking point, the recent suggestion that the rules could be bent might allow room for Gordon Brown to buy Nevada for $183 billion, and thus render moot the debate about supercasinos in Britain.
Oregon could be sold to the peace- and nature-loving Swiss for $227 billion; perhaps the IRS could agree to look past UBS as a quid pro quo to smooth the deal. The Germans would no doubt be more than happy to spend some of their euros ($334 billion worth, to be precise) on Wisconsin, well known for its sausages, beer, and large-framed residents. Finally, Florida could be sold to GIC for $1.05 trillion. The heat, humidity, tourists, and nasty insects would be familiar to the Singaporeans, but the 151,000 sq. km would represent a welcome increase in the space available to the city-state's residents.After these sales, fourteen states would remain: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. By a stunning coincidence, these fourteen states comprise the territory of the original thirteen colonies represented by the stripes on the US flag, so there'd be no need to change that (other than knocking off the odd star or two.)
According to Macro man's calculations, the asset sales would raise a total of $11.55 trillion (less investment banking fees, of course)....easily more than enough to retire the publicly held debt of the Federal, state, and local governments. The excess cash (comprising some $4 trillion or so) could be used to directly back most Fannie and Freddie mortgages on a dollar for dollar basis, thus getting rid of that nasty problem.
Looking ahead, the Macro Man Plan will make life a lot easier for the remaining United States. The worst housing markets (Florida, California, Las Vegas) will now be someone else's problem. Ditching Florida and Arizona will significantly reduce the Social Security burden in years to come, while the secession of Texas should bring about a welcome reduction in future military spending. The environmental costs of California smog will now be borne by China, while Canada can pay for the benefits of Detroit autoworkers.
Sure, the Macro Man Plan will entail a modest loss of American international prestige, but that's a small price to pay for restoring the nation to economic health. Wall Street will still be part of the USA, so the investment banking billions will stay within American hands. And hey, in ten years' time when the next "once in a lifetime" financial crisis rears its head, the US will still be able to sell Washington, DC...that is, if a willing buyer can be found.