But despite it all, Mr. Shultz is confident that if we get the policies right again, America can regain its footing: “When Ronald Reagan took office, inflation was in the teens, the prime rate was in the 20s, and the economy was going nowhere. We still had the remnants of wage and price controls, particularly in oil and gas. And Jimmy Carter said we were in ‘malaise.’ It was a bad time. I’m convinced the economy can be turned around because I watched Ronald Reagan do it.” …

Mr. Shultz dwells at length on the national debt, and on the Fed’s role in enabling it: “It’s startling that in the last year, three-quarters of the debt that’s been issued has been bought by the Fed and the balance has been bought by other countries, so U.S. citizens and institutions are not on net buying U.S. debt. . . . The Fed doesn’t have an unlimited capacity because when it buys the debt what it’s doing is monetizing the debt. Sooner or later that has got to get out into the economy. Can’t be held forever. And when it does in that kind of volume—as Milton Friedman taught us, inflation is a monetary phenomenon—it’s gonna be hard to control.” …

As we turn to foreign policy, the national debt again looms large: “Now remember something. Alexander Hamilton, our first secretary of the Treasury, and a very good one, redeemed all of the Revolutionary War debt at par value, and he said the ‘full faith and credit’ of the United States must be inviolate, among other reasons because it will be necessary in a crisis to be able to borrow. And we saw ourselves through the Civil War because we were able to borrow. We saw ourselves able to defeat the Nazis and the Japanese because we were able to borrow. We’ve got ourselves now to the point where if we suddenly had to finance another very big event of some kind, it would be hard to do it. We are exhausting our borrowing capacity.”