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Why There Will Be No 11th Hour Debt Ceiling Deal

Why There Will Be No 11th Hour Debt Ceiling Deal

A new milestone on the American populaces’ collective pursuit of insolvency was reached this week.  According to a reportpublished on Tuesday by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, total U.S. household debt jumped to a new record high of $12.84 trillion during the second quarter.  This included an increase of $552 billion from a year ago.

Moreover, this marked the second consecutive record high on a quarterly reported basis for U.S. household debt.  Indeed, this is a momentous achievement.  From our vantage point, it is significant for several reasons.

One, it shows U.S. household debt has returned to its upward trend which had previously gone uninterrupted from the close of World War II until the onset of the Financial Crisis in late 2008.  Second, it demonstrates that, like the S&P 500, new all-time highs are being attained with the seeming precision of a quartz clock.  Is this just a coincidence?

More than likely, it’s no coincidence at all.  More than likely, the mass quantities of central bank liquidity that have been injected into the financial system over the last decade have provided the plentiful gushers of cheap credit that have pushed up both stock prices and household debt levels.  But remember, the easy stock market gains can quickly recede while the increased debt must first drown the borrowers before it can be expunged.

To understand where the liquidity has come from, look no further than the total combined assets of the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, and the Bank of Japan.  They were around $4 trillion a decade ago.  Today, they’re over $13.8 trillion.  And if you include the People’s Bank of China’s assets, combined major central bank assets jump to nearly $19 trillion.

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