Category Archives: debt bubble

16/5/19: Identifying Debt Bubble 4.0


Having just posted on the debt supercycle-related comments from Gundlach (https://trueeconomics.blogspot.com/2019/05/16519-gundlach-on-us-economy-and-debt.html), here is a chart identifying these super-cycles in the U.S. economy:


The periods of significant leverage in the U.S. economy have been identified as follows:

  • First, I took nominal GDP growth rates (q/q) snd nominal total non-financial debt growth rates (also q/q) for the entire period of data coverage for which all data points are available (since 1Q 1966). 
  • Second, I adjusted nominal non-financial debt growth rates to reflect the evolving ratio of debt to U.S. GDP.
  • Third, I subtracted adjusted debt growth rates from nominal GDP growth rates to arrive at change in leverage risk direction. This is the difference figure shown in the chart below. Positive numbers reflect quarters when GDP growth rate exceeded growth in GDP-ratio-adjusted debt and are periods of deleveraging in the economy, and negative periods correspond to the situation where GDP growth rate was exceeded by GDP-ratio-adjusted growth rate in debt.
  • Fourth, I calculated 99% confidence interval for historical average difference (shown in the chart below).
  • Fifth, I identified three regimes of debt evolution: Regime 1 = "Deleveraging" corresponds to the Difference variable being non-negative (periods where the gap between growth rate in GDP and growth rate in debt is non-negative); Regime 2 = "Non-significant leveraging up" corresponds to periods where the gap (difference) between GDP growth rate and debt growth rate is between zero and the lower bound of the confidence interval for historical average difference; and Regime 3 = "Significant Leveraging up" corresponds to the periods where statistically-speaking, the negative gap between growth in GDP and growth in debt is statistically significantly below the historical average.
I highlighted in the above chart four periods of significant, persistent leveraging up, identified as Debt Bubbles 1-4. There is absolutely zero (statistical) doubt that the current period of economic recovery is yet another manifestation of a Debt Bubble. And, given the composition of the debt increases since the end of the Global Financial Crisis, this latest Bubble is evident across all three components of non-financial debt: the households, corporates and the U.S. Federal Government. 


9/1/19: Student Debt Bubble Adjusted for Wages and Employment Costs Growth


Student loans debt has been steadily rising in recent years, at rates far in excess of the rates of growth in overall credit to the U.S. households. However, the data shows conclusively, that the degree of leverage risk implied by growing student debt is now out of control. Here are two charts, referencing the levels of student debt to earnings and employment costs since 1Q 2005:
Source: Bloomberg

Source: my own calculations based on data from Fred database

In very simple terms, adjusting for labor compensation to college graduates, student debt growth rates since 1Q 2005 have exceeded the growth rates in returns to college degrees. The rate of this excess, cumulated from 2005-2006 period is around 2.5 times. In other words, student debt has grown 2.5 times more than the growth rate in college degree-holder's labour compensation.

9/1/19: Student Debt Bubble Adjusted for Wages and Employment Costs Growth


Student loans debt has been steadily rising in recent years, at rates far in excess of the rates of growth in overall credit to the U.S. households. However, the data shows conclusively, that the degree of leverage risk implied by growing student debt is now out of control. Here are two charts, referencing the levels of student debt to earnings and employment costs since 1Q 2005:
Source: Bloomberg

Source: my own calculations based on data from Fred database

In very simple terms, adjusting for labor compensation to college graduates, student debt growth rates since 1Q 2005 have exceeded the growth rates in returns to college degrees. The rate of this excess, cumulated from 2005-2006 period is around 2.5 times. In other words, student debt has grown 2.5 times more than the growth rate in college degree-holder's labour compensation.

27/12/18: Mr. Draghi’s Santa: Ending QE, Frankfurt Style


It's Christmas time, and - Merry / Happy Christmas to all reading the blog - Mr. Draghi is intent on delivering a handful of new presents for the kids. Ho-Ho-Ho... folks:


The ECB balancesheet has just hit a new high of 42% of Eurozone GDP, up from 39.7% at the end of 3Q 2018. Although the ECB has announced its termination of new purchases of assets under the QE, starting in January 2019, the bank has continued buying assets in December, and it will continue replacing maturing debt it holds into some years to come.

Despite the decline in the Euro value, expressed in dollar terms, ECB's balancesheet is the largest of the G3 Central Banks, ahead of both the Fed and the BOJ.

Ho-Ho-Ho... folks. The party is still going on, although the guests are too drunk to walk. Meanwhile, global liquidity has been stagnant on-trend since the start of 2015.


And now the white powder of debt is no longer sufficient to prop up the punters off the dance floor:


Ho-Ho-Ho... folks.