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Marketplace Morning Report

Letters: Foreign aid, U.S.’s future liabilities

Marketplace Staff Jul 27, 2011
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Kai Ryssdal: It’s Wednesday, so what the heck — letters.

Yeah, so there’s the debt crisis stories we’ve been doing this week.

Countdown beep

I should say, first of all, not many of you cared for that. But moving on.

I talked to Bill Gross on Monday, uber bond investor down at PIMCO, about why the markets haven’t really been responding yet to the debt dilemma. Bill said — among other things — that the U.S. Triple A credit rating is already as good as gone, in part because of the big problems this country already has. That includes, he said — and he got a bit wonky here — a present value of future liabilities that comes to $60 trillion.

Economist Alain Thery lives in Silver Spring, Md. He got wonky right back.

Alain Thery: Not everyone understands what Present Discounted Value is. When you talk about Present Discounted Value, you need to know what is the stream of payment over what period of time, and the discount rate used. Otherwise, you could come up with any figure that you want.

Stephen Beard had a story yesterday on the impact of Britain’s foreign aid, and he mentioned this fact: “Over the past three decades, Africa received 16 times more aid per head than China. And yet the African economy shrank, while China took off.” This being the letters segment where listeners take issue with our math, Josh Miner of La Crosse, Wis., wrote to say this.

Josh Miner: Talk about comparing apples to oranges! A continent made up of dozens of countries, most ravaged by long history of slavery, colonialism and world wars compared with a country which, until recently, had been unified and not ruled by a foreign power.

That’s one point of view — we know there are a whole bunch more out there. Share ’em if you got ’em.

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