U.S. Garage Sale

Corporations that file for bankruptcy typically have their debt discharged — zeroing out their shareholders — and their new equity issued to erstwhile creditors.

What’s the equivalent for sovereign nations?

Put it this way: what would Alaska fetch on the open market?

Seward’s Folly

When Secretary of State William Seward orchestrated Alaska’s purchase from a financially crippled Russia in 1867 — pundits of the day derided it as “Seward’s Folly” — the price was a measly $7.2 million.

Today, who knows?

One trillion? Five trillion?

We sell it to the Chinese for the upper end of that range, and — poof! — we retire what we owe them and even get a little extra to pay down what we owe Japan, South Korea, and the Gulf States.

Sell High, Buy Low

True, Alaska isn’t exactly close to China — I doubt even Sarah Palin can see it from her front yard.

But then, the Falklands Islands weren’t exactly near Great Britain. For that matter, neither was India.

And both of those were colonized when “cutting edge technology” consisted of quill pens and carrier pigeons.

Who knows, if we play our cards right, a couple years down the road, maybe we can buy it back cheap — just like we bought Rockefeller Center back from the Japanese a couple years after they purchased it at the peak.

P.S.: wait till you hear my idea for keeping Social Security solvent (it rhymes with “schmwaii”).

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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