So Irish Central Bank monthly data – out last Friday – provides some more fodder for thought about what is going on with credit flows in the country most dependent on ECB repo window (see here).
First consider the aggregates on money supply side:
This clearly shows that whilst M1 money supply has expanded by just under €3bn (or 3.4%) between August and September 2009, M2 money supply has contracted by over €4.1bn or 2.11%. The contraction is primarily driven by the decline in deposits with set maturity of up to 2 years which have fallen by a whooping €7.43bn or 7.9%. Part of this was probably used to deleverage shorter-term debt securities (up to 2 years in maturity) – which have declined by €2.66bn or just under 5.5%. But whatever happened with the rest of deposits is hard to explain out of the CB data. Deposits with medium term maturity constitute the most stable measure of future lending capacity in the credit sector and this decline does not signal much needed stabilization in future lending conditions.
Now to more detailed data on consolidated balance sheet. First, liabilities side:
The above chart clearly shows that all liabilities, save for Non-Government Deposits and Government Deposits with the Central Bank, are still trending up. Net external liabilities are certainly in reversion after June local trough and are now dangerously reaching for February 2009 crisis levels. Bad news?
Well, aggregates are showing something very similar:
Total liabilities are now in excess of the non-Government credit volumes once again for the second time this year. First this condition was observed in January-February 2009. Next, we have crossed once again to the situation of private sector credit falling below total liabilities in August 2009. September 2009 re-affirmed the trend as the gap between two time series widened to the second highest level in 2009 so far with January gap of €27.7bn and September gap of €22.0bn. So non-Government credit flows are no longer covering total liabilities… Bad stuff? Wait…
On the assets side, the above shows that save for Government debt which is converted through accountancy double-entry into Government Credit (up 77.9% year to date in September), not much else is rising, with fixed assets down 14% year to date, interest earnings on non-government credit down 49.6%, official external reserves up 11.35%.
On private sector credit decomposition:
Total private sector credit (PSC) has declined from the peak achieved back in November last year to current €378.1bn or 6.4%. This is dire and the decline is actually accelerating since beginning of September. Table summarizes:
The same is true for non-mortgage credit and mortgage credit. Importantly, the data on mortgage credit and non-mortgage borrowing shows that there is no deleveraging in sight for Irish households. Residential mortgage lending today continues to remain at well above the peak markets level for house prices. In 2007, average monthly level of mortgage debt in Ireland stood at €131.1bn. In September 2007, the level was €136bn or 8.83% below the latest level recorded in September 2009. Thus, as negative equity pressures continue to increase due to falling house prices and as rents continue to destroy yields on property, Irish mortgage holders are simply prevented from deleveraging in the credit cycle by falling incomes and rising taxes.
This does not bode well for the short-term prognosis for the Irish financial system (reliant heavily on low default on mortgages assumptions amidst a full blown meltdown of the development loans) and for the Irish construction sector and property markets (reliant on some sort of a return of the buyers to the collapsed market for properties). It also does not support any hope of the stabilization in the property-related tax revenues.
Hence, although credit contraction has set in firmly back in June (with credit to private sector posting negative growth in yoy terms since then), mortgages credit is lagging (implying that we are yet to witness true crunch on mortgages – something that is likely to happen once the banks set out in earnest to rebuild their margins by hiking mortgages rates post-Nama) and non-mortgage credit is back on the rise (potentially reflecting accumulation of credit arrears by financially stretched households).
The same picture, of building pressure on the arrears side can be glimpsed from the changes in trends for credit cards spending. New purchasing using credit cards has lagged repayments in January-August 2009. In September, more charges were incurred than paid down. The same (albeit on a vastly smaller scale) took place in business cards. Hence, balances are now rising across all credit card debts, as shown in the chart below.
Net result of all of this: outstanding indebtedness of Irish private sectors is no longer declining. The rate of growth in overall debt levels has hit 0 in May 2009, bounced back to positive territory in June-July 2009 and failed to hit negative (deleveraging territory) since then.