An interesting spat unfolded Saturday on financial Twitter. It started with a tweet from Nobel Prize winner / NY Times columnist Paul Krugman, essentially arguing that national debt doesn't matter. Another financial heavyweight, Nassim Taleb (author of The Black Swan and Anti-Fragile books), responded with a series of tweets ripping that assertion apart. You can see the original tweet and the main point of Taleb's response below.
Dangerous sophistry.— Nassim Nicholas Taleb (@nntaleb) October 5, 2019
Debt has destroyed societies.
By his reasoning crime is an injury WE inflict to ourselves.
Debt is money SOME groups or individuals owe to OTHER groups and individuals, who may be not born yet.
The bundling of all agents as "WE" is a naive fallacy. https://t.co/IcnpS4gjrD
Taleb's point is well taken. But the striking thing to me was the contrast between Krugman's take on national debt and what God says about it in Deuteronomy 28.
First the blessings of obedience:
1 If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:
...12 The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none. 13 The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.
And the curses of disobedience:
43 The foreigners who reside among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower. 44 They will lend to you, but you will not lend to them. They will be the head, but you will be the tail.
There are reasonable arguments regarding the differences between a nation's debt and a personal household's debt. But we tread on shaky ground when we downplay the risk of things — such as debt — that God repeatedly warns are dangerous. That's true for nations as well as for individuals.