Economics (page under construction - still you may find it very useful)
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Many old economics and political classics are avialble here:
Goverments (all of them) spend more money than they collect in taxes. The idea of increasing taxes is not popular with voters. So goverments go deeper into debt and simply print more money. Money sources:
US currently has more debt than any other nation on the planet. $60 trillion of total US government liabilities, which includes more than $10 trillion of official US Federal debt, and then Medicaid, Social Security, Medicare, and others. Compare this with ~$15 trillion of gross of national economy. If you divide $60 trillion by 300 million US population, you get $200,000 per person (or approx $500,000 per household).
In hard times (wars, economic downtimes) governments start "printing" more money (to pay war bills, feed unemployed, etc.) - thus causing inflation.
Today, November 2008, US government "prints" money (mostly electronic money) with increasing speed to "help" economy. The total amounts "printed" recently (2008) is probably more than $3 trillion, but it was mostly done quietly. Only small part of this dollar release (~ $0.8 trillion) was discussed on TV recently (bailout of the largest financial companies).
Printing money resolves short-time crisis - but should increase inflation.
Note - the buying power of US dollar was relatively stable from 1786 to 1945 (~160 years), but after 1945 it started to decline rapidly (decreased x10 times from 1950 to 2008):
Note: although most of dollars are elctronic, it is interesting to know the total amount of old-fashionned paper dollars available all over the world:
As you see, this amounts are much smaller that amount of "electronic" dollars.
At any moment approximately 2/3rds of all "paper" dollar pool is being held in other countries (major holder - China).
In the last 3 years (2005-2008) the printing has accelerated (from 7-8% to 10-15%).
What to expect in the future?
What to expect? Inflation, of course.
In time of inflation long-term lenders lose, and long-term borrowers win. Why? Because borrowers still have to return the specified amount - but the buying value of this amount decreases. So effectively the borrower gets upfront more than he will have to return. Of course the lenders become more cautios - they increase the rates, etc. - but their protective measures usually fell behind.
So - buy real estate. : )
Some interesting links: