Social Security and conversation
(Dan here…Social Security is an issue that seems to generate a lot of firm beliefs and passion, as witness recent threads. It is rare that people refer to actuary material. On the other sides of the issue are people like Andrew Biggs, who is knowledgeable and smart in his arguments. I am posting this as a reminder to readers that contributors do usually go the extra mile…in this case even recently, and since 2008 with Dale, Bruce Webb, and Arne Larson. Below is a copy of a response to Dale from the Deputy Chief Actuary 2017)
Dear Mr. Coberly,
We have looked at your thoughtful and detailed proposal for increasing the scheduled payroll tax rates for Social Security. As I’m sure you are aware, we have scored numerous comprehensive solvency proposals and other individual options for making changes to Social Security. These analyses are available on our website at https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/solvency/index.html and
Your proposal would increase the payroll tax rate gradually, by 0.2 percentage point per year beginning in 2018 (a 0.1-percent increase for employees and employers, each). Based on the tables you provided, it appears you would propose an “automatic adjustment” to the rate in the future, allowing the tax rate increases to stop and then resume, applying a 0.2 percentage point increase whenever the 10th year subsequent would otherwise have a trust fund ratio (TFR) less than 100 percent of annual cost. The intent appears to be that TFR would not fall below 100 percent. If we are understanding your proposal correctly, this type of adjustment would very likely maintain trust fund solvency for the foreseeable future, based on the Trustees’ intermediate assumptions.
Also, based on our rough estimates, a 0.2 percentage point increase in the payroll tax rate each year from 2018 to 2035, reaching an ultimate rate of 16.0 percent in 2035 and later, would eliminate the actuarial deficit and keep the TFR above 100 for each year thereafter. An increase to 15.8 percent in 2034 would fall just short of both goals. Note that these rough estimates do not include any additional “automatic adjustments” such as the one you propose.
We hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if you have further questions. We are also copying Rina Wulfing from Rep. DeFazio’s office on this email.
Karen P. Glenn
Deputy Chief Actuary
Office of the Chief Actuary
Social Security Administration
NASI in recent years has taken the get it from the rich approach. I have counted about thirty possible partial plans ‘to fix’ SS based on current structure, and many made up rhetorical arguments from politicos.
The coberly analysis/plan is conveniently incomplete, and therefore totally misleading. He states small (in his mind) tax increases will keep SS from cutting benefits as the program will dip into the “Trust Fund” to cover any shortfalls.
This would be fine if the Trust Fund assets were cash or marketable securities, as in a normal pension plan, but they are NOT. The entire $3T is made up of “Special Treasuries” or government “IOU’s” They are not marketable, so when SS goes to redeem them the government must either 1) raise taxes or 2) cut spending in other programs to raise the amount forced by the redemption.
Since so much of the budget is on auto pilot, guess what has to happen? You got it, tax hikes. And to give you an idea of the size of the liability the $3T Trust Fund represents, it is about the amount of the total taxes collected by the Federal Government in 2015.
The tax hikes required to keep up the current level of SS spending are much, much greater than coberly submits. So coberly is guilty of what he accuses so many of on here…..lying.
So, Sammy, we can ignore everything everyone says, including the Chief Actuary for Social Security and simply take your word for it. Thanks. I suppose then that we will look to Trump for the fake news fake facts. And we can all rest easy that you have analyzed this for us with invective and hand wavings, which make us feel much more comfortable about letting the Pete Petersons, Simpson-Bowles, George Bush and Cheney, etc deal with Social Security in such a way as to line the pockets of the rich and assure the rest of us that no, there is no money for you suckers,
The Chief actuary makes the same omission coberly does – it assumes the Special Treasuries are like cash. Well they’re not, but it is not the Actuary’s job to contemplate how they will be paid for.
This is why Angry Bear is the lone, and ignored voice, saying there is no problem with Social Security. It’s US that pays for the Special Treasuries, and to ignore or hide this is misleading.
It’s not Social Security’s fault that the federal government prefers borrowing from its available funds to levying the necessary taxes to fund government programs and pretend that taxation is at appropriate levels.
Look at the total income column in
Since the TF is never less than total annual income, per the OP, you can see that the TF is actually increasing. Your scenario does not happen.
Why the conflicting data from the same source?
” Chart 1 shows trust fund total income exceeding trust fund expenditures from 1984 through 2019, generating annual surpluses. Beginning in 2020, total income is projected to be less than expenditures, generating annual deficits ”
“Well they’re not, but it is not the Actuary’s job to contemplate how they will be paid for.”
Presumably, they’ll be paid for by more borrowing. And of course, the explosive growth in employment and wages caused by the GOP “tax reform” give-away to corporations and the 1%.
Your article comes to the same conclusion mine does:
” The combined OASI and DI Trust Funds become depleted in 2034 under the intermediate assumptions and in 2029 under the high-cost assumptions” How can the Trust funds become depleted if the receipts are surplus?
Sammy: “This would be fine if the Trust Fund assets were cash or marketable securities, as in a normal pension plan, but they are NOT. The entire $3T is made up of “Special Treasuries” or government “IOU’s” They are not marketable, so when SS goes to redeem them the government must either 1) raise taxes or 2) cut spending in other programs to raise the amount forced by the redemption.”
No they don’t. What do you think happens when any treasury bond matures. The treasury just rolls it over into a new treasury bond. These bonds are no different.
Do you hold any government bonds in your retirement portfolio? When you cash them in, do you expect government to raise taxes or cut spending?
I guess I tried to make it too short. If you raise taxes by .1 percent each year (for the employer and employee both), the costs don’t change, but the income does. Higher income, same cost means the Trust fund goes down more slowly. Only the cost column I referred you to is valid, so the conclusion is no longer valid. The trust fund never becomes depleted.
it would “keep the TFR above 100 for each year thereafter”. Keeping the TF above 100 means it is higher than the costs. As you can see from the reference I gave you, that means that not only is the TF not depleted, it is growing.
If the TF is growing, there is no need to raise taxes to “redeem” the special securities. Your scenario never happens and the plan is complete because it does not need to figure out how to plug a hole that does not exist.
(Bruce Webb has written about this many times).
The gutting of Social Security almost happened under Obama, aka the Grand Bargain, but they hated Obama so much, even that was off limits. Now is a different story. Paul Ryan been itching to throw granny off the cliff.
nothing stops the Republicans from gutting “entitlements” now. and their glee is just unabashedly giddy from cutting Social Security now to pay for that bad “deficit” welfare state for the Wars on Everybody.
of course they could simply lift the cap on FICA Taxes! but then someone has to be made an example of expecting Government to work. such a bad idea, making Government a functioning concept. lol, so much easier to continue Austerity for the Working Class. as Leona Helmsley said, “only the little people pay taxes.”
why would they want to change a “winning” con? SS’s time has come.
and we will get to watch the Democrats help sell out FDRs legacy to the highest bidder.
You may be partially correct. The TF will drop by about $500B over the course of a decade as it goes from 3x to 1x.
If you want to believe that raising taxes by about 1/3 of the amount Trump just cut them needs to be part of the plan for SS, then believe away. I believe the opposite. How the general fund pays back a portion of what it borrowed is not a necessary part of a plan for SS.
yes. part of the beauty of raising the FICA contribution one dollar per week per year per employee is that the Trust Fund falls from about 300% of one year’s benefits to the prudent target of 100% of one year’s benefits. Part of this comes from the government paying BACK the money it borrowed FROM Social Security (a concept that Sammy does not understand… paying back what you borrowed) but most of it comes from the fact that as benefits rise, the size of the target trust fund (one year’s benefits) rises also, so the Trust Fund stabilizes at 100% of a year’s benefits at the higher tax (FICA) level without the need for any further government repayment of the money it borrowed.
This does mean the FICA goes up over time, but during the same time incomes are going up about ten times as fast, so the worker always has more money AFTER the tax than he has today. AND he will have paid for his own, higher, benefits, which he will need both because he is going to be living longer, and because he will want to keep up with the growing general standard of living. Actually, he will NEED to keep up with the growing standard… just as today’s retirees could not live without a car or a refrigeration, even though plenty of people in 1936 did… it’s not only “inflation” that determines the cost of a decent level of benefits.
There is no hope Sammy will ever understand this, but he’ll keep taking as if he knows more than the Deputy Chief Actuary
I know your heart is in the right place. But lifting the FICA cap to “make the rich pay” is not going to happen. And “demanding” it will just make the rich fight that much harder to kill Social Security entirely.
Is it worth that risk to save yourself a dollar a week?
The heart of Social Security is that the worker pays for it himself. FDR “put that tax in… so no damn politician can take it (SS) away from them (the workers.)
“The treasury just rolls it over into a new treasury bond. These bonds are no different.”
No these are different. When a normal treasury bond matures, the government can sell a new bond to investors outside the system (foreign government, pension fund, etc.) using the proceeds to pay off the first bondholder. This is the “rolling over.”
The Special Treasuries, however, have to be turned into cash to send to beneficiaries. They can’t sell a bond to another investor, they must get the cash from the General Fund. While it is true the government can borrow more, rather than raise taxes or cut other spending, the debt held by the public for the US is around 100% of GDP, the traditional “flashing red light.” Adding another $3T to about 120% of GDP? Maybe it’s possible.
My point is not that the problem is intractable, it’s that it is more difficult to solve than coberly leads us to believe, over and over. So when coberly says “it’s only $1 per week, increasing by 2% forever, ya young whippersnappers won’t even feel it……” he is solving the Trust Fund problem, not the Social Security problem, which is larger.
To leave such a large string loose shows he is not an analyst, but a flack.
The term “unfunded liability” is most often used in relation to trust funds and trust fund balances. That linkage may create the impression that, because those funds report positive balances, future federal commitments are already “paid for,” or funded. And certain taxes–especially payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, which are credited to those trust funds–may lead taxpayers to believe that they have paid for future benefits. Trust funds can be useful mechanisms for monitoring the balance between earmarked receipts and a program’s spending, but they are basically an accounting device, and their balances, even if “invested” in Treasury securities, provide no resources to the government for meeting future funding commitments. When those payments come due, the government must finance them in the same way that it finances other commitments–through taxes or borrowing from the public. Thus, assessing the state of the federal government’s future finances requires measuring such commitments independently of their trust fund status or the balance recorded in the funds.
Welcome to Angry Bear. All first comments go to moderation to weed out spammers and advertising.
With the welcome being said and done, I will comment on the SS TF.
“When those payments come due, the government must finance them in the same way that it finances other commitments–through taxes or borrowing from the public. Thus, assessing the state of the federal government’s future finances requires measuring such commitments independently of their trust fund status or the balance recorded in the funds.”
The people who have “loaned” to the government through special treasury securities the funding to do whatever needed to be done including lowering taxes on corporations and doing such things which are not concrete in nature specified as assets expect to be paid back including the interest accumulated. If not paid back through SS payments, I am sure there are gold assets which can be sold off to fund those assets or such other liabilities as Congressional and senatorial retirement funds.
I think most of us here have heard the facts you are reciting. Most of us are doctorates or masters in education. We all know where the funding is coming from if not paygo. The solution is to get more people back to work.
Like coberly I don’t think I can get you to agree that my ideas are meritorious, but you keep coming back, so I hope that we can each understand what the other is saying.
You say, “The tax hikes required to keep up the current level of SS spending are much, much greater than coberly submits.” The current “plan” calls for the TF to go from $3T in 2021 to 0 in 2034. So, the tax hikes you are concerned about amount to $3T in general fund income taxes under current law.
The NW Plan has the TF dropping only to $2.4T by 2034. So, even though the tax hikes you are concerned about are reduced by $2.4T, there is still $600B of income tax increases left that the NW Plan does not resolve.
Have I represented your concern correctly?
don’t play that game. you begin “trying to understand” what a psychopath is saying, and you end up saying what he is saying.
Yes. Every projection, CBO etc. I can find shows Social Security going or gone cash flow negative, with the difference being made up by drawing down on the “Trust Fund” until 2034 or so when it is exhausted. So that’s $3T over the next 16 years.
The FICA tax does not “increase by 2% forever and ever.” It increases by 2% over about twenty years… one tenth of one percent a year.. and then it stops increasing. meanwhile your wages have increased about one full percent per year.. and do keep increasing after the tax increase has stopped because with that 2% it is high enough to pay for SS benefits forever… as far as we can see from here.
Sammy seems to think the federal government should not have to repay the money it borrowed FROM Social Security.
As it happens, by raising the FICA tax now, most of the money in the Trust Fund would not have to be repaid. because the required Trust Fund is 100% of a year’s benefits, the money already in the trust fund (that has been borrowed by the government) would remain just a paper debt on the books with no actual cash having to be raised to repay it. This is a more or less accidental feature of raising the tax gradually. It would not matter a great deal if the government had to repay the entire amount it borrowed FROM Social Security.
“when a normal treasury bond matures, the government can sell a new bond to investors outside the system…” and when a special treasury matures the government can get the cash it needs to repay the money it borrowed (the bond) by selling a new bond to investors outside the system…
This of course may not be the best way to deal with government debt (or it may. has worked pretty well since the British invented the idea of a national debt about 300 years ago) but the point is it has NOTHING to do with letting people continue to pay for their OWN retirement by virtue of the protection (not payment) of the federal government overseeing a pay as you go savings and insurance plan.
by paying back the Trust Fund, the government would be REDUCING its debt, not increasing it, as Sammy seems to think. if you can call that thinking.
I heartily disagree with you on that point, Dale. The first step in getting someone to agree with you is to understand him.
It is so obvious to me that repaying the loan from the TF is a general fund issue that I have a hard time understanding why Sammy thinks it is a SS issue.
If I represented your income tax concern correctly, can you see that the NW plan solves over 80 percent of it without even needing to raise income taxes?
i looked it up:
by raising the payroll tax one tenth of percent per year each for the worker and the employer, the money the government owes TO Social Security NEVER has to be repaid. It just sits on the books as a “prudent reserve”.
By NOT raising the payroll tax, the money the government owes TO Social Security (it borrowed it) does have to be repaid as SS tax income falls short of promised benefits.
So Sammy has it exactly backwards.
But again, this is NOT a very important aspect of the Social Security problem. The important aspect is that by raising your own “tax” (retirement contribution) one tenth of one percent per year for a few years, you can insure that you will have at least enough to retire on “if all else fails.” Cheap at twice the price.
up to you, but you have to tell the Congress. right now all they hear is the Big LIe from their Big Contributors who tell them the SS “debt” (there isn’t any) is too big to fix and we (they) have to “reform” Social Security until it doesn’t exist except it name only, and they, the Big Contributors, can make Big Money “managing” your retirement savings… which will not be insured
except by the remote (“we have the will but not the wallet”) possibility of government welfare… which you will have to pay for even if you don’t get any of the welfare checks.
“Yes. Every projection, CBO etc. I can find shows Social Security going or gone cash flow negative, with the difference being made up by drawing down on the “Trust Fund” until 2034 or so when it is exhausted. So that’s $3T over the next 16 years.”
That’s true UNLESS you raise the tax by one tenth of one percent per year. then the “negative cash flow” (calling in the loans made TO the government) stops. replace by a positive cash flow from the new tax revenue.
hard for Sammy to understand this, but it’s how things work.
” the TF is a general fund issue that I have a hard time understanding why Sammy thinks it is a SS issue.”
Because it is. The General Fund has to come up with the money for the Special Treasuries being redeemed to pay retirees some way – by taxing, cutting spending elsewhere, or borrowing.
ordinarily i would agree with you. it is the way of a Martin Luther Kind or a Gandhi or a Carl Rogers. And it works with reasonably honest or intelligent people.
It does not work with psychopaths or liars.
that would be true.. it was always the plan that the government would repay the money it BORROWED FROM Social Security when the tax rate was no longer enough to pay the promised benefits.
you seem to think that paying back the money it borrowed FROM Social Security is an intolerable burden on the government.
but since the alternative is to keep the tax rate too low to pay for promised benefits or to scrap Social Security entirely, it does seem that allowing the people to increase their tax payment by a dollar per week per year to cover the cost of their expected longer life in retirement, might be a more sensible way to insure we don’t have a lot of old people starving on the streets when “the trust fund runs out.”
Sammy: “The Special Treasuries, however, have to be turned into cash to send to beneficiaries. They can’t sell a bond to another investor, they must get the cash from the General Fund.”
So where do you think the government gets the cash it needs to buy more bombs and jet fighters while running deficits? It turns bonds into cash by issuing more bonds. Why do you think Social Security bonds are some special case that defies the laws of finance.
I do want to understand what you are saying. Yes, the general fund does have to come up with funds to retire any bonds it has issued – whether Special Treasuries or other treasuries. Current law already requires the general fund to repay the Special Treasuries.
Why does a plan for the lender need to address how the borrower comes up with those funds?
Special Treasuries are only created when SS receipts are greater than expenditures. Since this is not currently the case, no new Special Treasuries are being created. Even if it were possible, “rolling over” bonds creates no cash, it just maintains current indebtedness. The current system requires Special Treasuries to be turned into cash. I doubt SS security recipients would be thrilled to receive a Special Treasury in lieu of a check.
The General Fund cannot shit $3T over the next 15 or so years to repay the Special Treasuries. OK, maybe it can…. but it will be hard :). This is equivalent to maybe 75% of the annual expenditures for all categories for the entire Federal Government for a year.
It is possible. So, as I said before, taxes raised, spending cut, debt increased…choose your poison. But to say “It’s only $1 per week”, or whatever reducio absurdum coberly conjures up (plus add in multiple insults) is misleading.
Meanwhile 47,000 millionaires are receiving Social Security checks.
Brett @ 10:28
you sound so knowledgeable. too bad you are talking complete nonsense. where did you get it?
no new special treasuries need to be created. if you need to cash a special and you don’t want to get the cash from general taxes, you just issue a regular type bond.
you are working too hard to confuse yourself.
but as we have tried to tell you, RAISING THE FICA ONE TENTH PERCENT WOULD ELIMINATE THE NEED TO CASH ANY MORE SPECIALS.
that seems to be something else you can’t admit, even to yourself.
“no new special treasuries need to be created. if you need to cash a special and you don’t want to get the cash from general taxes, you just issue a regular type bond.”
So you have come around to reality. You have added $3T to the debt held by the public (to around $17T). Why don’t we just borrow another $3T and send everyone a check for $10,000? Better yet, just borrow another $6T and send $40,000.
You don’t care…. you are old, you won’t have to pay anything back. I doubt any 25 year old would post this.
Coberly, that’s really selfish.
“RAISING THE FICA ONE TENTH PERCENT WOULD ELIMINATE THE NEED TO CASH ANY MORE SPECIALS.”
Can we all agree that there is no free lunch?
you are so stupid it staggers the imagination.
after having it explained to you maybe a hundred times over the past ten years you still don’t understand that the Trust Fund is money the government has borrowed FROM Social Security.
when the government pays back that money it DECREASES the debt.
if the government doesn’t want to get the money from taxes it can borrow the money the normal way it borrows money from the public.
this makes the debt a wash. it does not add to the money the government owes.
moreover you can’t seem to understand that by raising the payroll tax to pay for the needed SS benefits, you eliminate the “cash flow deficit” so the money owed TO SS never has to be paid back.
as for “numbers please” maybe you should have been a telephone operator. I have provided the numbers…. maybe a hundred times… over the past ten years. I am not here to feed you numbers you cannot understand and then lie about me.
I may have been too quick to condemn. Reading what you said again, you may know what you are talking about. But it is not clear why you are saying it. Yes, we know the money to pay future SS is not “in the bank.”
That’s the magic of pay as you go. By not trying to collect the money that will be needed in the future now, we don’t have to worry about huge stashes of cash earning interest over time. The “interest” that a worker earns from his FICA payment comes from the larger economy paying (arguably) the same tax rate years in the future as the future beneficiary paid today.
The “problem” for SS today is that future costs will be higher than past costs, and future revenues will be lower (less high) than past revenues. This will require a one time, but gradual, increase in the tax rate of about 2% for the worker and 2% for the employer. This is not a huge burden, though the Big LIars have tried to make it sound like one, and all the politicians and pundits have bought the lie.
For the worker it’s just a question of paying for what you need with what you’ve got.
And it really has nothing to do with the government budget at all.
I think it was Brett who pointed out above that you cant just define overall cash flow by accounting ledgers set up for the SS’s fund-accounting purposes. I made the same points before.
So if you need for some reason to fill up the accounts payable ledgers with real cash now, Let offer the same solution I have before. I offer this as a way to shock people into thinking more clearly about the purposes of the SS system, and its purpose is absolutely not to be used as a rationale to raises taxes on the incidence of current work in order to cover the lawful cash outlay requirements of paying earning to retirees (while ignoring that the prior over taxation of labor incidence was used to grant windfalls to the wealthy via tax grants/cuts).
So once we have a democratic Congress legislation will require the Fed to key enter amounts into the SS accounts payable ledgers in trade for the Special Trust fund securities, valued by this new law to ensure that the fund will never run out of cash (remember the Fed did this very same thing during the financial system crisis, key stroking new monies into the reserve accounts of the financial system, so we know this can be done quite simply). This new law would value the debt so purchased by the Fed as having no interest due and no maturity date and no legal permissin to sell it again. Sure, an accounting ledger artifice, but it would allay concerns about SS not having the cash to pay the lawful claims.
And this solution, crazy as it may seem to some, means that we are not continuing to shift taxation burdens onto work and workers. That, indeed, may be one of the goals of some advocates; that is, shift more tax burdens on to labor incidence in the US (ugh). That ahould be opposed.
Why would we do that just to make some accounting ledgers feel good??
Note, the net wealth of the US is probably above $90 Trillion. Retirees are still helping to sustain the economy that they helped build, imprive, grow, and maintain.
The SS system is not paying amounts high enough to retirees, who have clearly earned the return on such a successful economy.
Just in case, you might think that I dont support the SS system. I do, just want it understood differently. Do not want it defined by accounting ledgers.
I see your point on Treasury bonds and while I don’t dismiss your point I will share this story with you and it is factual as this event happened. I owned a little over $1 million in Treasury bonds of various types at the time. I was at a Town hall meeting which had GA Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson and this happened in 2011. Both of them want to cut SS and raise the retirement age to 70 and Chambliss called the SS Trust fund bonds worthless IOU’s. I asked the question what made the $1 million in bonds I owned and many of the banks in GA have assets invested in and was he saying we could and maybe would default on the SS Trust fund bonds and if so should I be concerned about the gov’t defaulting on the bonds I own. He responded that absolutely no way the gov’t would default on my bonds and they might default on SS trust fund bonds. I call BULLSHIT on that and while I don’t dispute what you say about how they redeem the bonds may be true I call BS on the gov’t defaulting on the SS Trust fund bonds and could care less how they are redeemed. They are no less important than banks and rich folks who own bonds as both are back by the full faith and credit of the US gov’t which is exactly the words Chambliss used in reference to my personal bonds.
Coberly — “this makes the debt a wash. it does not add to the money the government owes.”
Very true. It does not add to the debt! It only changes to whom the government OWES the money! It is not that complicated.
and your heart is in the right place. but your economics won’t work. nor would the politics.
there are people on the bad side who want to “save social security” as a ledger while destroying it as a meaningful way for people to insure they will be able to retire at a reasonable age with at least enough to live on.
but you can’t just create the money that will take by ledger. and you can’t get it by taxing the rich (they won’t let you, and it would be bad for you if they did).
it may be true that the workers are being cheated, but you can’t solve the cheating problem by demanding that “the rich” pay for everyone’s retirement. they won’t do it. and not all of the rich have been cheating the poor, so it’s not even the case that your solution would achieve justice. just demanding it would cause even the sane rich to fight against social security… they have their own ideas about what is fair.
meanwhile you can save your own social security pension by simply raising your own tax one dollar per week per year. why go to some politically risky rube goldberg accounting fiction to save yourself a dollar per week?
we can and should fix the injustice in this country, but that’s another much longer fight. meanwhile we can save Social Security simply by paying for what we need. the price is cheap. the peace of mind is priceless.
but you.. and about a hundred million other people have to do it… tell congress you are willing to pay that dollar… they won’t do it on their own. they won’t even think about it.
Thank you for the correction.. but I must point out that it is not me, nor me knowing what I’m talking about. It’s a direct Quote from the CBO (linked PDF).
I shared it to underline that the TF is not a “fund”. It, the interest earned, and all its records could disappear tomorrow, and would not change how SS obligations greater than receipts, are met, today.
sorry that communication is so hard sometimes. i think you are saying exactly what i have been trying to tell people for years.
the trust fund could be stolen by martians tomorrow and it would not change Social Security materially. the tax increase would have to happen sooner, but the people paying the tax will get their money back in the form of a longer and richer retirement. and the people who paid the “excess” (over then current needs) tax that created the trust fund (mostly the baby boomers) would still get what they paid for.
but i think it’s confusing if not a little dangerous to imply that it’s all a matter of making up numbers in a ledger. in the end money is how we keep track of the value we put on the things we buy and sell and get. there is room to “create” money but only up to a point and only if you expect the created money to generate real value in the near future.