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The Long-Term Debt Cycle The long-term debt cycle comes around approximately once every 50-75 years and happens because several short-term cycles add up to steadily higher debt and debt-service burdens, which the central banks try to more than neutralize by lowering interest rates and, when they cant do that anymore, they try to do so by printing money and buying debt. Because most everyone wants to get markets and economies to go up and because the best way to do that is to lower interest rates and make credit readily available, there is a bias among policy makers to do what is stimulative until they cant do that anymore. When the risk-free interest rate that they control hits 0% in a big debt crisis, central banks lowering interest rates doesnt work. That drives them to print money and buy financial assets. That happened in 1929-33 and 2008-09. That causes financial asset prices and economic activity to pick up as they did in 1933-37 and 2009-now. In both the 1930s case and our most recent case, that led to a short-term debt cycle rebound, which eventually led to a tightening (in 1937 and over the last couple of years) for the reasons I previously described in explaining the short-term debt cycle. This time around, the tightening is coming via both interest rate increases and the Federal Reserve reducing its holdings of the debt it had acquired.

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