Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Quick Look At U.S. Economy

Banks are vital entities for every economy. If banks do not lend there can be no real growth. When we look at the balance sheeet of the American commercial banks we can spot that since the last financial crisis banks have been behaving very prudently.

source: FRED, Simple Digressions

As you can see, between October 2007 (just before the last financial crisis began) and October 2014, loans granted by the American banks were growing 2.4% per year; in the previous cycle, beteween Oct, 2000 and Oct, 2007 the c.a.g.r. was much higher: 9.5%. So in the current business cycle the banks are very reluctant to grant loans (or, it is better to say, the businesses are reluctant to raise loans). And remember that interest rates are standing at  nearly zero!

But look at the cash assets. In this business cycle the cash assets were going up 38.4% per year. These cash assets of the American banks ($2.9 trillion) are nothing more than deposits held at the FED. Simply, banks have sold U.S. treasuries, which they held before, to the FED and the cash obtained from those sales was deposited at...the FED.

For many years the talking heads were telling the public that the American economy is healthy. No, it is not. Businesses do not want to borrow money, which has a negative effect on investments.
What is more, the money artificially created by the FED through many stages of quantitative easing just went back to the FED, not to the economy.
On the other hand, it is a very positive phenomenon. The businesses, seeing artificially low interest rates, did not subscribed to it. They are just standing aside.

By the way, I recommend the economic insight offered by two American economists: Van R. Hoisington and Lacy H. Hunt. Each quarter, these guys publish excellent analysis on American economy. Here is a link to the last piece.

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