Massive stimulus deployed in Q2 2020 has lifted substantially aggregate household incomes. Meanwhile, lower interest rates have boosted debt affordability, while new demand for credit collapsed. All of which means that, at least through 2Q 2020, U.S. households enjoyed some really dramatic reduction in the burden of debt:
Tuesday, November 17, 2020
17/11/20: U.S. households: Debt Hostages to the Washington
Income boost from Government transfers in 2Q 2020 was so large, it took household debt to income ratio down by a whooping 3 years in just one quarter, with the ratio currently at the levels last seen in the second half of 1998, moving exactly 3 years from Q3 2001 levels where they stood at the end of Q1 2020. meanwhile, actual debt levels, in US$ terms were down just $52 billion in 2Q 2020 compared to Q1 2020, a decline of only 0.26%.
Of course, 2Q 2020 boost to incomes was a temporary measure, not related to any real economic growth and not sustainable in the longer run. A return to the pre-COVID19 levels of total debt burden relative to disposable income will shave off 1.455-1.626 percentage points off the households' disposable income net of debt servicing costs, washing out USD295-329 billion from households' budgets. Worse, following normalization of the credit markets, built up debt insolvencies delayed by the pandemic emergency measures will likely push debt to much higher levels as accumulated loans arrears get refinanced and rolled up. Assuming 5% of the loans in forbearance today, this would lead to the household income hit of USD310-346 billion.
The twin effects of exhausted income supports and rising debt burden can see U.S. household debt burden rising to 135-136 percent of disposable income within the next 12 months.
All of which simply goes to show that the U.S. economy is now a complete and total hostage to monetary policy accommodation that is sustaining massive debt subsidies to the households, plus the one-off and non-sustainable income supplements.