If anyone is tired of the daily European soap opera with surrealistic tragicomic overtones, they can simply shift their gaze to the 8th largest economy in the world: the insolvent state of California, whose controller just told legislators has just over a month worth of cash left. From the Sacramento Bee: “California will run out of cash by early March if the state does not take swift action to find $3.3 billion through payment delays and borrowing, according to a letter state Controller John Chiang sent to state lawmakers today. The announcement is surprising since lawmakers previously believed the state had enough cash to last through the fiscal year that ends in June.” ….uh, oops? But sure, fix the problem of excess debt by more “borrowing” why not. As for the math: “But Chiang said additional cash management solutions are needed because state tax revenues are $2.6 billion less than what Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers assumed in their optimistic budget last year. Meanwhile, Chiang said, the state is spending $2.6 billion more than state leaders planned on.” Quick, someone come up with a plan that involves subsidies and tariffs on China, or something else that deflects from what the source of the problem really is. Because the last thing that anyone in America would want to bring up is this thing called “responsibility” for their actions, or, as in now becoming the default case, the lack thereof. And why do that, when time spent so much more productively scapegoating this, and blaming that for one’s own massive errors of judgment.
From the Bee:
The Assembly budget committee is considering a bill today that would enable $865 million of borrowing from existing state accounts, Senate Bill 95. Chiang, after consultation with the Department of Finance and state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, is also seeking about $2.4 billion in delayed payments to universities, counties and Medi-Cal, as well as additional borrowing from outside investors.
Absent these actions, the state would fall below its prudent $2.5 billion cash cushion on Feb. 29, Chiang estimated. On March 8, the state would actually end up $730 million in the red. The state would be below the safe cash cushion for several weeks ending April 13, save for several days at the end of March.
With such actions, Chiang believes the state would not have to use IOUs or delay tax refunds, maneuvers that have been relied upon in previous years. But Chiang also said that “more cash solutions may be required if our revenues continue to erode or if disbursements significantly exceed estimates.”
So 3 years after Lehman filed for bankruptcy, everyone in the world continues to be terminally insolvent, but because everyone is in the same boat, everyone pretends not to notice and the best thing is just to blame Meredith Whitney for telling it like it is, if not getting the timing quite right? But at least the Fed isn’t about to print up a tsunami of dollar-equivalent ones and zeros.