We often hear the meme “the U.S. is the next Greece.” “The government is insolvent.” Complete nonsense.
We tend to focus too much on the right side of the government’s balance sheet and not the left side — the federal government’s assets. This is not to downplay the seriousness of the debt issues – current, future, and off-balance sheet obligations – and the need for a long-term viable debt solution.
Just take a look at the chart and tables below, however, which we snagged from the Big Think, of how much land the federal government owns, especially in the west. Almost half of the land in California and more than 80 percent of Nevada. Stunning.
Oil and gas resources on and offshore worth $128 trillion
That is several multiples of the current national debt.
President Trump has even mentioned selling off the government assets to reduce debt. Marketwatch recently reported,
Which brings us to one of the president’s more intriguing ideas: why not sell off some of those rights and pay down part of the debt?
Candidate Trump sold this in his usual simplistic terms: I’m a real estate guy, I know how to make the deals. We pay down the debt while putting Americans back to work in the oil and gas industry. We become energy independent and screw the Middle East. What’s not to like? – Marketwatch
We did get some pushback on the feasibility of selling federal land and real assets as it is a very difficult political proposition. But that is not the point of this post. The markets implicitly understand the strength of U.S. G’s balance sheet, say, relative to Greece, for example.
What a great Ph.D. dissertation topic — measuring the U.S. government’s net worth by calculating the market value of all its assets.