Just recently, the Federal Reserve System announced that first-quarter losses from the United States Postal Service stood at 1.8 billion dollars. At this rate, the USPS is on track to cost American taxpayers over $7.2 billion by the end of the fourth quarter. To put this into perspective, this amount is equivalent to a $20 million dollar loss per day, with no hope of any profit for quite some time, if at all. At first glance this may pose a concern, but once the numbers are dissected, you will see that it fails in comparison to the bigger picture. In fact, when looking at the numbers (with respect to federal spending), one might consider it irrelevant or even a waste of time to correct. In order to fully grasp this idea, it’s important to evaluate the bigger picture.
If these sustained losses of the USPS occurred any time prior to the turn of the millennium, it could have caused a financial scare bigger than that of the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy in 2008. Looking back, and trying to comprehend the fall of the USPS, would have been practically impossible. We don’t have to worry about this however, because these aren’t the times we live in today. Today, we are in the third round of Quantitative Easement, known as QEIII. The monthly toll of QEIII comes to $35 billion per month indefinitely, or at least until the unemployment rate hits 6.5%. How long this will continue until unemployment reaches that percentage is a whole other conversation.
Our federal stimulus this year alone will be at $420 billion; an acceptable number, considering the total cost of the federal stimulus since 2008 exceeds $4 trillion. This is probably why the market shrugged off QEIII when it was announced, rather than questioning the necessity of additional stimulus.
No matter how you look at it, QEIII has quite a toll to be accountable for. This $420 billion stimulus is enough to bail out the postal service at a quarterly loss of $1.8 billion for the next 20 years. This year, the total amount of printed QEIII could cover the losses of the USPS until the year 2033. If we assume that QEIII will continue for the next four years, your great grandkids will not have to worry about issues when mailing a letter, all courtesy of the Federal Reserve (any takers on what the federal deficit might look like?).
With this bigger picture now in perspective, it’s easier to understand why the $1.8 billion loss isn’t an immediate concern to Congress, and why it probably won’t be moving forward. Could it be because the federal government only looks at the bankrupt state of the USPS as only 1.7% of the QEIII toll annually? Possibly. Think of it this way: if the fall of the USPS fails to pose a threat to the financial arena, what will? More importantly, what will the final toll be when all the dust settles?