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The Les Miserables State and the Trillion Dollar Treasury Coin: Stop the Presses!!


Welcome to Capital Account. Economist Nouriel Roubini, also known as Dr. Doom, predicted another crisis in the US in his Financial Times op-ed, he warned readers “given the dysfunctional nature of the American political system, it won’t be long before there is another crisis. Two months, in fact.” This prediction should be no major revelation, since in two months Congress must deal with the debt ceiling and sequestration spending cuts. The lawmakers on Capitol Hill may be babies, as depicted on the most recent Bloomberg BusinessWeek cover, but we want to know if we are going to be the ones left crying. We talk to Edward Harrison about the likely fallout from what he dubs the “fiscal cliff-let.” Also, alternative ideas to address the US’s current debt woes, including minting trillion dollar platinum coins, are gaining traction. Joseph Gagnon, a Senior Fellow of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, recently told the Washington Post that he likes the idea of the Treasury minting trillion dollar coins to pay down the national debt, saying “There’s nothing that’s obviously economically problematic about it.” We talk to Edward Harrison, founder of Credit Writedowns, about the plausibility of exploiting this Treasury loophole.

And could the Hollywood blockbuster, Les Miserables, be a valuable lesson in the repercussions of economic statism? The movie, based on the novel by Victor Hugo in 1862, is a thoughtful commentary on the politics and society of early 19th century France. The story describes a revolution, reportedly based on the 1832 student led anti-monarchy insurrection in Paris. We talk to Jeffrey Tucker, executive editor of Laissez Faire Books, about Les Miserables’ economic relevance today.

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