Should interest rates shoot up, the United States would be in serious trouble, Jeffrey Rosensweig, a professor at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, told a breakfast meeting at the Atlanta law firm of Alston & Bird.
Speaking to members of the Atlanta Bar Association’s International Transactions Section Aug. 4, Dr. Rosensweig said that the U.S. is currently in a vicious circle because the government must incur new foreign debt to service existing investments and debt held by foreigners.
The bottom line is it’s still better to get the investment than not to get the investment, he said. But what I’m worried about is that the gap is opening up and a lot more interest in dividends is flowing overseas, and these overseas investors can turn around and take that money and buy more U.S. bonds.
We’re very lucky right now that we don’t see immediate trouble because interest rates are low, he said, but remember that our federal government has $5.5 trillion of debt, more than $1 trillion of which is owed to foreigners.
The government currently pays out to foreigners $70 billion of interest per year, he added, so if interest rates go up we’d be in serious trouble.
Dr. Rosensweig attributed the low interest rates to the low inflation rate, which he sees stemming largely from the strong U.S. dollar and the low price of oil. However, he cited political tensions as well as the growth of the world’s population as risk factors.
Trade, foreign investments and global demographics are major themes in Dr. Rosensweig’s recently published book, Winning the Global Game: A Strategy for Linking People and Profits.
Cost of the book is $30. For bulk discounts, call (212) 632-4994.