Category Archives: US deleveraging

11/5/16: U.S. Economy: Three Charts Debt, One Chart Growth

In his recent presentation, aptly titled "The Endgame",  Stan Druckenmiller put some very interesting charts summarising the state of the global economy.

One chart jumps out: the U.S. credit outstanding as % of GDP

In basic terms, U.S. debt deleveraging post-GFC currently puts U.S. economy's leverage ratio to GDP at the levels comparable with 2006-2007. Which simply means there is not a hell of a lot room for growing the debt pile. And, absent credit creation by households and corporates, this means there is not a hell of a lot of room for economic growth, excluding organic (trend) growth.

As Druckernmiller notes in another slide, the leveraging of the U.S. economy is being sustained by monetary policy that created unprecedented in modern history supports for debt:

And as evidence elsewhere suggests, the U.S. credit creation cycle is now running on credit cards:
Source: Bloomberg

And the problem with this is that current growth rates are approximately close to the average rate of the bubble years 1995-2007. Which suggests that in addition to being close to exhaustion, household credit cycle is also less effective in supporting actual growth.

Which is why (despite a cheerful headline given to it by Bloomberg), the next chart actually clearly shows that the U.S. growth momentum is structurally very similar to pre-recession dynamics of the 1990 and 2000:
Source: Bloomberg

Back to Druckenmiller's presentation title... the end game...

30/12/15: US Junk Bonds: Heading into a New Defaults Wave?..

U.S. Junk Bonds markets have been a canary in the proverbial mine of the global economy since 2014, when we first felt some tremors in the markets. But so far, default rates for the junk bonds remained relatively subdued, albeit rising.

However, as recent Fitch forecasts suggest, things are about to get 1999-2000 styled. Fitch latest projection (mid-December) for U.S. Junk Bonds default rate for 2016 is at 4.5%, with energy sector at 11%. Now, for sectoral comparatives, here are the historical average default rates for the periods outside official recessions:

 The average in the historical series ex-recessions is close to 2.2%, which would make 2016 forecast for 4.5%... err... touchy, to say the least. It is also worth noting that in three pre-Global Financial Crisis recessions, build up in default rates was gradual, over two-four years. We are now two years into such a build up.

Obviously, this does not look like a good time to go into heavily leveraged assets... unless you've never been through a credit cycle meat grinder before...