Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Economics 27/10/2009: What credit flows data tells us...

There is a superb blog post by Ronan Lyons exposing the economic nonsense spun by Nama supporting 'economists' - read HERE. In case you still wonder who that 'mysterious' uber-adviser from Indecon was - well, might it have been Time Magazine-famous (see here) Pat 'Never-Heard-of-Before' McCloughan?..

An interesting data from the ECB: The annual rate of growth of M3 money supply has decreased to 1.8% in September 2009, from 2.6% in August 2009. This marks new deterioration in money growth. The 3mo average of the annual growth rates of M3 over the period July 2009 - September 2009 decreased to 2.5%, from 3.1% in the period of June 2009 - August 2009. Table below summarises:
The annual rate of change of short-term deposits other than overnight deposits decreased to -5.3% in September, from -4.1% in the previous month. This implies that banks are bleeding cash at an increasing rate. In the mean time, the annual rate of change of marketable instruments increased to -8.8% in September, from -9.3% in August. Hmmm - has this anything to do with more aggressive repo operations? Or with more aggressive re-labeling of what constitutes 'marketable' instruments? Or both?

On the asset side of the MFI sector, "the annual growth rate of total credit granted to euro area residents increased to 3.1% in September 2009, from 2.8% in August. The annual rate of growth of credit extended to general government increased to 13.6% in September, from 11.5% in August, while the annual growth rate of credit extended to the private sector was 1.1% in September, unchanged from August." So here we have it - the credit pyramid in full swing. Banks borrow against bonds issued by the state (increasing supply of 'marketable' paper to the ECB). The states promptly issue more bonds that are then bought up by the banks, increasing supply of credit to the governments.

In the mean time the real economy is taking more water: "...the annual rate of change of loans to the private sector decreased to -0.3% in September, from 0.1% in the previous month (adjusted for loan sales and securitisation the annual growth rate of loans to the private sector decreased to 0.9%, from 1.3% in the previous month)." [The latter number means that barring accounting shenanigans with re-classifying and restructuring loans, credit to private sector was falling even faster].

"The annual rate of change of loans to non-financial corporations decreased to -0.1% in September, from 0.7% in August. The annual rate of change of loans to households stood at -0.3% in September, after -0.2% in the previous month. The annual rate of change of lending for house purchase was -0.6% in September, after -0.4% in August. The annual rate of change of consumer credit stood at -1.1% in September, after -1.0% in August, while the annual growth rate of other lending to households was 1.5% in September, after 1.3% in the previous month." Again, the last sentence reflects increases in credit due to arrears (short-term lending to households).

So to summarise, economy is still tanking, while the governments are still monetizing new debt through the banks. Expect a bumper crop of profits from Eurozone financial institutions in months to come as they reap the gains of the government-financing pyramid.

Let me show you some illustrations based on ECB data:

First we have Government borrowing:
followed by non-MFIs
...and non-financial corporations
and finally by the households:

As commented in the charts, this data shows conclusively that the private sectors (non-financial corporations and households) have been:
  • accumulating liabilities in the years before crisis in a transfer of the debt off the public sector shoulders onto private economy shoulders; and
  • were unable to deleverage in the last 24 months since the onset of the financial crisis.
This implies that in years to come, weakened consumers and corporates will be exerting downward pressure on European growth, with interest rates hikes potentially inducing a destabilizing pressure on already over-stretched households and corporates. In this environment:
  • any talk about ECB and Governments' 'exit strategies' is premature, unless one is to completely disregard the credit bubble still weighing on non-financial private economy; and
  • continued public sector spending stimuli and ECB discount window-reliant monetary policy cannot be a workable solution to the crisis. Instead, there is an acute need for orderly deleveraging in the private economy.
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