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Weekly Commentary: Q1 2018 Z.1 Flow of Funds

Weekly Commentary: Q1 2018 Z.1 Flow of Funds

The first-quarter 2018 Z.1 “flow of funds” report can be viewed in two ways. From one perspective, key conventional data are un-extraordinary. Household debt expanded at a 3.3% rate during the quarter, down from Q4’s 4.6%. Home Mortgage borrowings slowed from 3.4% to 2.9%. Total Business debt grew at a 4.4% pace, unchanged from Q4 and down from Q1 ’17’s 6.1%. Financial sector borrowings were little changed, after expanding 1.6% during Q4. Bank lending was, as well, unremarkable.
From another perspective, extraordinary Credit growth runs unabated. Total System (non-financial, financial and foreign) Credit expanded at a (record) seasonally-adjusted and annualized rate (SAAR) of $3.513 TN during 2018’s first quarter, compared to Q4’s SAAR $1.411 TN and Q1 ’17’s SAAR $860 billion. This booming Credit expansion was fueled by an SAAR $2.519 TN increase of federal borrowings. Granted, this was partially a makeup from Q4’s slight contraction in federal debt growth.

In nominal dollars, Total U.S. System Credit expanded a blazing $962 billion during Q1 to a record $69.717 TN (349% of GDP). Non-financial Debt (NFD) expanded a record (nominal) $874 billion, with one-year growth of $2.413 TN. One must return to booming 2007 for a larger ($2.508 TN) four quarter-period of Credit expansion. NFD ended Q1 at a record $49.831 TN, matching a record 250% of GDP. NFD expanded $4.086 TN over the past two years, the strongest expansion since ’07/’08.

Outstanding Treasury Securities ended Q1 at a record $17.046 TN, increasing a nominal $615 billion during the quarter. Treasury Securities jumped $1.172 TN during the past four quarters and $1.669 TN over two years. Outstanding Treasury Securities has increased $10.995 TN, or 182%, since the end of 2007. Treasury debt-to-GDP ended Q1 at 85%, more than double 2007’s 41%. It’s worth adding that total Treasury and Agency Securities ended Q1 at a record $25.920 TN, or 130% of GDP.

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