Is the U.S. Economy Powered by Dark Matter?

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


Karl Smith is bullish on America:

“The Great Takedown” […] is the not yet realized bombshell that the US in general and the US Federal Government in particular made out like gangbusters in the Great Recession. I am still trying to tie this all together but a full accounting of US Treasury “profits” from the Global Financial Crisis look to number in the trillions.

This is based on a theory that if you value assets correctly, based on their financial return, the apparent multi-trillion dollar increase in the U.S. current account deficit over the past few decades hasn’t actually happened. It’s been offset by exports of “Dark Matter” that aren’t included in official accounts:

The US is a net provider of knowledge, liquidity and insurance. As the world became more global financially, the increasing asset value of these services underlies the spectacular increase in dark matter over the last two decades.

As a result, foreign-owned U.S. assets are worth less than official accounts suggest and U.S.-owned foreign assets are worth more. Karl is excited because Paul Krugman kinda sorta endorsed this theory today, but it’s worth noting that Krugman leaves open the question of whether there’s really been a mis-valuation of assets, or whether this is basically a dangerous leverage play that relies on using cheap U.S. debt to buy risky foreign assets, assuming that those risky assets will pay high returns forever.

Beats me. This is way above my pay grade. But interesting!

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you'll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Or at least we hope. It’s fall fundraising time, and we’re trying to raise $250,000 to help fund Mother Jones’ journalism during a shorter than normal three-week push.

If you’re reading this, a fundraising pitch at the bottom of an article, you must find our team’s reporting valuable and we hope you’ll consider supporting it with a donation of any amount right now if you can.

It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate