I am an expert on low finance. By that, I mean my own finance. For most of my adult life I was overdrawn and owed money. I sort of understood it, enough anyway to eventually rise out of it - just! But high finance is a mystery. It is one of those subjects, like quantum physics, or knitting, which are tricky mostly because no-one can explain them to outsiders. You either 'do' them and you 'know', or you don't and therefore, er, you don't - if you take my meaning. Of course, in the case of high finance the picture is further complicated by the fact that there are a great many crooks and sous-crooks involved. By 'sous-crooks' I mean, for example, those incompetents who bungled and blundered their way into the 'Crash of '08', not quite criminal but almost! However, at the stratospheric level of high finance where bankers meet politicians, that is where the really serious and serial crooks, cheats and liars do their dirty deeds and the likes of you and me are denied any chance of understanding.
At CNS News, Mr. Terence P. Jeffrey, an excellent reporter, makes a gallant effort to explain the inexplicable which has recently taken place at the US Treasury Department. The story begins with a simple 'fact' and the use of inverted commas round that word will become clear. On May 17th the US national debt stood at $16,699,396,000,000.oo. Yes, it made me wince, too, but seventy days later the US national debt stood at, er, well, $16,699,396,000,000.oo. Not a cent more or a cent less. For seventy days. Whodathunkit? Nah, me neither!
This is the Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and you-know-who. I assume they both carefully counted their fingers after the handshake! The answer to this apparently unsolvable conundrum is simple - Congress passed a law stating that the national debt must not exceed $16,699,421,095,673.60. So you see, it's simple in the Alice in Wonderland inhabited by the top levels of the American government; if the law states that such-and-such a figure must not be exceeded then you freeze the figure for as long as you like whilst you go on borrowing money. Of course, you, like me, may not understand these subtleties of high finance conducted at government level but if you just think of it as lying and the perps as lying liars then you will probably just about be right.