In a recent Financial Times editorial, Gillian Tett, who rose to prominence for her coverage of the 2008 financial crisis, raised the question of financing the U.S. debt. Headlined America faces a battle to find buyers for its bonds, her article begins by referencing a letter to Secretary Mnuchin from Beth Hammack, a Goldman Sachs banker who also chairs the Treasury Bond Advisory Committee. The letter, she says, contains a bombshell:

“According to TBAC calculations, America will need to sell an eye-popping $12 trillion of bonds in the coming decade, sharply more than it did in the past 10 years. This will ‘post a unique challenge for the Treasury, Ms. Hammack warned, even ‘without the possibility of a recession’. In plain English, the Wall Street luminaries on the committee were asking who on earth – or in global finance – will buy this looming mountain of Treasuries.”

When Jerome Powell and the president sat down for dinner at the White House in early February one wonders what was on the agenda. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who also attended the dinner along with Fed vice-chair Richard Clarida, joked that having the Fed chairman over to dinner was “somewhat of a covert operation … so it didn’t create speculation.” The Fed press statement that followed went to great lengths to assure Wall Street and the rest of the world that nothing of consequence happened. Individuals at this level of government, though, do not have hastily-called, high-profile meetings at the White House simply to socialize and attend to their friendship.

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