“During the decade ending in 2021, the United States Treasury received about $32.3 trillion in taxes while it spent $43.9 trillion. Though economists, politicians and many of the public have opinions about the consequences of that huge imbalance, Charlie and I plead ignorance and firmly believe that near-term economic and market forecasts are worse than useless…..Berkshire offers some modest protection from runaway inflation, but this attribute is far from perfect. Huge and entrenched fiscal deficits have consequences.”
There are three potential sources of funding for fiscal deficits of which two are inflationary:
- The private sector. Deficits funded by the private sector have no impact on inflation. The rise in public spending is offset by a decline in private spending/increase in savings.
- Commercial banks. Inflationary. The bank simply swaps one asset on their balance sheet for another: bank reserves at the Fed are exchanged for Treasury securities. Public spending rises but is not offset elsewhere.
- Foreign investors (including banks). Inflationary. Public spending rises but there is no offset. The inflow on capital account is matched by an outflow on current account.