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The Downward Spiral: US Government Debt Crisis with Peter St. Onge

Apr 3, 2024

The Downward Spiral: US Government Debt Crisis with Peter St. Onge

The Downward Spiral: US Government Debt Crisis with Peter St. Onge

Key Takeaways

The Stephan Livera podcast episode featuring Peter St. Onge delves into the precarious state of US government debt and its broader implications. The conversation is a deep dive into the transformation of economies under government control, the ratcheting effect of crises on government power, and the potential outcomes of continued fiscal irresponsibility.

St. Onge portrays a grim picture of Western economies, describing a transition from productive systems to ones resembling the Soviet Union. He highlights the shift from entrepreneurial growth to economies burdened by bureaucrats and activists, funded by debt. This transition is marked by key events such as the end of the gold standard in the 1970s, the 2008 financial crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which have accelerated government spending and debt accumulation.

Government spending, St. Onge explains, absorbs a significant portion of GDP, morphing productive economic activity into government projects and hiring. This spending is sustained by debt rather than taxation, as the latter faces more resistance. The current situation sees governments worldwide, including the US, Japan, and Europe, spending more than they collect in taxes, leading to an explosion of debt.

St. Onge also touches on the incentives created by crises, suggesting that governments benefit from them, gaining power and budget increases. This dynamic may encourage the seeking out or exaggeration of crises to justify spending, as seen with climate change narratives.

Looking at the future, St. Onge expresses concerns about the sustainability of this trajectory, pointing to the potential for declining living standards and social unrest, as seen in a recent RCMP report from Canada.

The discussion also covers the implications of Japan's economic strategies, the rise of AI and its impact on jobs, and the future of bitcoin as a potential replacement for fiat currency. St. Onge's outlook on bitcoin is fundamentally optimistic, considering the low probability priced into the current market that bitcoin will replace fiat currencies.

Best Quotes

  1. "We are progressively shifting from an economy where the government is a parasite, but the economy more or less grows because entrepreneurs come up with new stuff...into a world where it starts to look more and more like the Soviet Union." – Peter St. Onge
  2. "Every crisis is an opportunity... In COVID, they just went to the races. If you look at government spending all over the world, there's just this level shift during COVID where it absolutely soars." – Peter St. Onge
  3. "The only reason that COVID lockdowns because they had central banks." – Peter St. Onge
  4. "Governments, what they wake up in the morning and try to do is prevent crises. But there's this funny incentive system where actually every crisis...turns out really good for them." – Peter St. Onge
  5. "The accumulated wealth of humanity is on the order of 300 trillion...and the US government, if you add up the unfunded liabilities and the national debt, it's about 80% of that." – Peter St. Onge
  6. "An AI is not coming for your job. A human who knows how to use AI is coming for your job." – Peter St. Onge
  7. "If you're 100% certain that bitcoin is going to win, then you'd be willing to pay 4 million for it... If you are, say, 10% sure that bitcoin is going to win, then you would pay 400,000 for it." – Peter St. Onge


The podcast episode with Peter St. Onge offers a contemplative look at the current economic environment shaped by excessive government spending and debt. It raises critical questions about the sustainability of such fiscal policies and the potential consequences that may ensue, including the decline in living standards and social unrest.

The conversation also considers the transformative role of AI in the job market and the prospects of bitcoin as an alternative to traditional fiat currencies. St. Onge's analysis provides a sobering reminder of the historical patterns of economic growth and decline, calling for a reevaluation of government roles in economy and the importance of maintaining a competitive, growth-oriented market environment.

Ultimately, St. Onge's insights serve as a cautionary tale about the perils of unchecked government expansion and the importance of innovation and productivity in securing a prosperous future..


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