Debt­watch goes blog

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A sub­scriber to my Debt­watch newslet­ter sug­gested that I estab­lish a blog. I plan to pub­lish my monthly Debt­watch report here, as well as send­ing it out to sub­scribers.

Next month I will also start a USA ver­sion of Debt­watch. The recent panic on Wall Street can be seen as yet another “cor­rec­tion”, but it might also be the begin­ning of the unwind­ing of America’s long-run­ning hous­ing bub­ble, which has dri­ven pri­vate debt lev­els there to over 160 per cent of GDP–higher even than Australia’s. While we def­i­nitely have enough debt “home brew” of our own to trig­ger a cri­sis, we are as always just min­nows next to the USA; the old say­ing that “if the USA sneezes, Aus­tralia catches a cold” may come home very pow­er­fully soon if the world’s largest econ­omy actu­ally comes down with the pneu­mo­nia of a debt defla­tion.

ABC PM has an item on the US sub-prime melt­down tonight; I am inter­viewed for it, as is Ian Rogers from The Sheet and David Ten­nant from Care Inc Finan­cial Coun­selling Ser­vice and the Con­sumer Law Cen­tre of the ACT.

About Steve Keen

I am Professor of Economics and Head of Economics, History and Politics at Kingston University London, and a long time critic of conventional economic thought. As well as attacking mainstream thought in Debunking Economics, I am also developing an alternative dynamic approach to economic modelling. The key issue I am tackling here is the prospect for a debt-deflation on the back of the enormous private debts accumulated globally, and our very low rate of inflation.
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  • Con­grats Steve on your new Blog, I’ve been fol­low­ing your arti­cles for many months now. Finally some­one has put the fig­ures to what I and many oth­ers have known as a really bad gut feel.
    I am inter­ested to see how quickly Chi­nas demand for resources will pull back as the US slips into reces­sion. Look­out Perth!
    The biggest issue I think is the depth of the lever­age involved in finan­cial mar­kets today.…
    Bor­rowed money is a good thing…if the basis of lend­ing is sound. Sadly global over­con­sump­tion has dis­torted the idea of “sound lend­ing” beyond recog­ni­tion, bring­ing with it soar­ing asset val­ues and wreak­ing havoc on fam­i­lies. It would appear that most West­ern nations have sub­scribed to the ideals of over con­sump­tion… bor­row­ing from tom­mor­row to live today, push­ing mar­kets up to unsus­tain­able lev­els. Given the level of lever­age involved I dont believe any par­tic­u­lar nation will be safe from the reper­cus­sions of a US led debt defla­tion.
    Only time will tell… the best we can do is man­age what we are in con­troll of well.

    Allan

  • Thanks Allan,

    The wild­card in all this is how China will in fact respond. I believe that a fair pro­por­tion of the activ­ity in China is “endogenous”–driven by its own inter­nal growth dynamic–but a lot of it is a debt-carry trade with the USA as well. When–not if–the USA slips into a deep reces­sion due to their hous­ing mar­ket col­lapse, that aspect of China’s growth will slow. And orders for WA min­er­als will slow with it.

    The ques­tion is, how much? I really don’t have the data to haz­ard a guess. But I do expect it will be suf­fi­cient to turn out terms of trade down­ward, and that alone will cause prob­lems.

  • Hi Steve, good to see the blog work­ing!

    Here’s a link to the ABC PM tran­script of the show men­tioned above:
    http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2007/s1864656.htm

  • Thanks foun­da­tion; link added. From now on I’ll main­tain a page called “Cov­er­age”. Whether I’ll get every item in there remains to be seen, but I’ll do my best.

  • cray

    Steve,
    regard­ing the level of repay­ments vs house­hold income.
    Many point the fin­ger at non-bank lenders and low-doc loans. Has any­one checked the amount banks lend these days?

    Sun­corp Loan Qual­i­fier

    http://www.suncorpmetway.com.au/suncorp/tools/home_loans/qualifier.html

    Exam­ple is a sin­gle income fam­ily
    Gross Income $50,000
    Sin­gle Income $38,300pa (net, after tax)
    No other income
    No other loans
    $3000 credit card
    2 kids
    25 year term

    Loan Capac­ity $195,000

    Repay­ments @8%, monthly $1505
    Total annual repay­ments $18,060
    % of net income 47%
    % of gross income 36%

    Annual inter­est bur­den $15,600
    % of net income 40%
    % of gross income 31%

    Ques­tions
    1. Has this ratio changed over time, ie. are banks lend­ing more money to allow for higher prop­erty prices?
    2. In an aver­age fam­ily is 47% of net income sus­tain­able? — it would reduce over time with wage increases
    3. What % of fam­i­lies are suf­fer­ing this level of debt?

  • Hi Cray,

    1. Yes the ratio has changed over time, and dras­ti­cally. In the 50s and early 60s, total repay­ments could be no more than 30% of the net income of the “male bread­win­ner”. Now… as your exam­ple shows, it’s well beyond that. The ceil­ing these days, I believe, is 40% of the income of both bor­row­ers in a cou­ple, and even in some cases, some of the income of par­ents.

    2. I can’t answer, but it would be sub­stan­tial now since so many of the bor­row­ers dur­ing the last boom were “investors” whose expec­ta­tion was to sell a pur­chased prop­erty at an inflated price some years after the pur­chase. Since many have been forced to hold on to avoid book­ing a cap­i­tal loss (in Syd­ney in par­tic­u­lar), they would now be sus­tain­ing pay­ments out of their incomes (espe­cially if they had, as usual, neg­a­tively geared the prop­erty so that the rental income was sub­stan­tially below the repay­ments).

  • cray

    Thanks for the reply Steve,
    I know from my own expe­ri­ence (last 6 years) that bor­row­ing capac­ity has increased rel­a­tive to incomes.

    Another con­tributer is the num­ber of mid­dle agers (40–50) who have traded up their homes dur­ing the boom and taken on an increased mort­gage. In past decades ppl of this age would have been reach­ing the end of their mort­gages and look­ing for­ward to being debt free.

    Thanks for pro­vid­ing another forum to dis­cuss this improtant fac­tor of mod­ern eco­nom­ics, I will be a reg­u­lar viewer.

  • foun­da­tion

    The FN Arena writ­ers (under Cov­er­age on the RHS) illus­trate that they’ve totally missed the impli­ca­tions of the infor­ma­tion con­tained in your report when they move mer­rily on to “Macquarie Bank econ­o­mists” who tell us that “the signs are that the east coast prop­erty mar­ket has already bot­tomed”.

    I had a rant on another forum about this topic and I’d like to share it here if I may.

    I may be a mug, but another boom in house prices seems unlikely. For house prices to sim­ply stay stag­nant, debt lev­els must rise by $90 bil­lion dol­lars (give or take a few) per year for many years to come. That fig­ure enables 400,000 house sales at the aver­age new mort­gage size of $225,000 per year. 

    So why is there so much gnash­ing of teeth every time inter­est rates rise 0.25%? That rep­re­sents an addi­tional $2 bil­lion inter­est pay­ment bur­den per year. $90 bil­lion more debt rep­re­sents nearly $7 bil­lion in addi­tional inter­est per year! Yet we’ll get noth­ing for it, since this debt will arrive even if house prices remain flat.

    Tak­ing the fig­ures in this arti­cle (http://www.news.com.au/business/story/0,23636,21349237–462,00.html):

    The rise in per­ceived hous­ing value from ~$1 tril­lion to ~ $3.4 tril­lion is both the cause and the result of mas­sive debt accu­mu­la­tion. We’re not pay­ing higher deposits for houses out of sav­ings, we’re just bor­row­ing larger sums. Because only ~5% of houses are bought and sold in a year, it can take up to 20 years for a change in the pric­ing level to be fully reflected in the debt-to-asset ratio.

    As the price rise is nearly entirely debt-funded, the total net value of our hous­ing assets once the equiv­a­lent of all houses have turned-over will be the same as when we started. Around $900 bil­lion dol­lars ($1 tril­lion — $100 bil­lion). $3.4 tril­lion in asset value ver­sus $900 bil­lion equity sug­gests we’re look­ing at a $2.5 tril­lion dol­lar debt load just to main­tain cur­rent house val­ues!

    That fig­ure is four times higher than the cur­rent national hous­ing debt. Even assum­ing sus­tained wage growth it will cost us more in inter­est pay­ments than income tax. But the real­ity is, the broader econ­omy will be crip­pled well before debt lev­els got so high.

    Yet the RBA Gov­er­nors, Prime Min­is­ter and Trea­surer are all on record as say­ing that this level of debt is per­fectly accept­able given the rise in asset val­ues. How can they repeat this line in par­lia­ment, in press con­fer­ences, in offi­cial state­ments? Why does nobody pub­licly chal­lenge this ridicu­lous notion? Per­haps because it seems so true (espe­cially to those of us who have ben­e­fited by the fleet­ing pros­per­ity of the recent bub­ble). After all, to gain $2.5 tril­lion in asset val­ues, it’s cost us just $750 bil­lion in loans… so far.

    Either this stops soon and house prices fall (prob­a­bly ush­er­ing in a fairly nasty reces­sion), or it goes on for a while until the inter­est on our debt removes so much money from the econ­omy that we enter a very deep, very pro­longed reces­sion with wide­spread job-loss and… house prices fall.

  • Spot on foun­da­tion. I did have a com­ment on this asset-cov­er­age angle in my last Debt­watch, but deleted it for rea­sons of length. Bat­tal­ino made this case to the Par­lia­men­tary Com­mit­tee, yet even at a super­fi­cial level it was con­tra­dicted by Stevens’s ear­lier obser­va­tion that the increase in debt “has had a dra­matic effect on asset val­ues”. So asset prices are high because we’ve bor­rowed a lot to finance them–which is no guar­an­tee of con­tin­ued cover, as you’ve ably pointed out.

    I plan to make some points in this regard in the next Debt­watch report. Spend­ing in any year reflects both income and change in debt; for debt to GDP ratios to sta­bilise, the debt growth rate has to drop back from its cur­rent level of around 15% p.a. to the roughly 7% p.a. by which nom­i­nal GDP increases. That rep­re­sents a drop in aggre­gate demand of close to the $100 bil­lion mark–just to sta­bilise the debt to GDP ratio at cur­rent lev­els.

    So I agree: the real estate game has reached its end-point, and any future recov­ery will only be a “dead cat bounce” (unless we cop a huge bout of com­mod­ity price infla­tion, which resets debt to GDP lev­els).

  • foun­da­tion

    Or a huge bout of wage infla­tion? About $90 bil­lion per year (~20% in the first year) should do it! Yes, I think that would be best. Com­mod­ity dol­lars might not get into the mort­gage holder’s hands. Prob­lem solved? 🙂

  • Spot on foun­da­tion. Unfor­tu­nately, how­ever, the odds of pol­icy mak­ers sup­port­ing such an event is zero–they are more likely to want to cut money wages, as they did (in Aus­tralia) dur­ing the Great Depres­sion. But the real prob­lem is how far out of whack com­mod­ity and asset prices are, and the only rel­a­tively pain­less way to get them back in kil­ter is infla­tion. A wage rise would be a guar­an­teed way of achiev­ing that, but it’s bound to be the very last thing they coun­te­nance.

  • Merid­ian

    Hi there Foun­da­tion and Steve,

    As an eco­nomic noob, I don’t under­stand how wage infla­tion would help with debt and asset prices. Where would all this extra money come from, and wouldn’t it just push up asset prices by a cor­re­spond­ing amount? Wages, assets, debt… it seems like an ongo­ing self-ref­er­en­tial Ponzi scheme to me.

    And more impor­tantly what would it do to the exchange rate?

  • Hi Merid­ian,

    I was get­ting far ahead of the analy­sis I’ve posted to this site thus far to put that par­tic­u­lar pol­icy argu­ment for­ward. To pro­vide some back­ground, the key prob­lem in a debt-defla­tion is that debt dri­ves asset prices far above the level that can be sus­tained by the income flows those assets gen­er­ate. Hence debts con­tinue to grow, and bor­row­ers go bank­rupt en masse in a chain reaction–a process first described by Irv­ing Fisher as his expla­na­tion for the Great Depres­sion.

    As Fisher and Keynes inde­pen­dently argued dur­ing the Great Depres­sion, to solve this prob­lem, the com­mod­ity price level has to be brought back into line with the asset price level. There are two ways to do this: asset prices can fall, or com­mod­ity prices can rise.

    The for­mer is a long, drawn out, painful process, which can actu­ally amplify the exist­ing prob­lem: bank­rupt­cies force fire sales of assets, which drive down com­mod­ity prices, keep­ing the prob­lem much as it was. How­ever, in the absence of effec­tive pol­icy, this is what actu­ally will happen–as it did in the Great Depres­sion, and arguably has just done in Japan from 1990 till 2005.

    The lat­ter is a faster, less painful process, but the ques­tion is, how does one cause com­mod­ity price infla­tion? Con­ven­tional econ­o­mists, like the Chair­man of the US Fed­eral Reserve Ben Bernanke, believe that it can be done by “the logic of the print­ing press”–printing money.

    The empir­i­cal record con­tra­dicts this con­fi­dence. It’s what Japan tried (see my first Debt­watch report) and it failed abjectly. So an alter­na­tive means is to force wages up–money wages, not real wages of course. That rise in costs will cause infla­tion.

    As for where the money will come from, that involves an expla­na­tion of the endo­gene­ity of the money sup­ply: if the wage bill is increased, large firms will meet their needs for finance from their lines of credit, and by putting up their prices–and so on through the econ­omy. The money sup­ply will grow as a result.

    On the exchange rate, for Aus­tralia, it would cause havoc–no argu­ment there. Ditto for Amer­ica (though it would not have par­tic­u­larly harmed Japan). But cur­rent exchange rates are them­selves caus­ing havoc as it is. We’ve been in a spec­u­la­tive bub­ble for so long that every­thing that appears in bal­ance is actu­ally madly out of whack–and I’m far from the only com­men­ta­tor say­ing that.

  • Karl­Gellert

    Hello All,

    As a prospec­tive first home buyer I have been keep­ing a close eye on the real estate mar­ket in Syd­ney. Aver­age and median house prices have been drop­ping for at least 1.5 to 2 years. I believe most of this price drop has been caused by the fol­low­ing fac­tors:

    - decreas­ing demand from investors due to the drop­ping prices
    — decreas­ing demand from first home buy­ers due to increas­ing inter­est rates, drop­ping prices and low afford­abil­ity
    — investors favour­ing super­an­nu­a­tion due to the recently intro­duced tax advan­tages for super­an­nu­a­tion invest­ment, in fact some investors are actu­ally switch­ing by sell­ing their poorly per­form­ing invest­ment prop­er­ties and using the funds to invest in super­an­nu­a­tion

    In these mar­ket con­di­tions owner occu­piers are not likely to sell unless forced, hence most of the recent turnover has prob­a­bly been in invest­ment prop­er­ties which tend to be worth less than owner occu­pied prop­er­ties. That in itself will also drive down the median and aver­age prices.

    With owner occu­piers sit­ting on the fence and investors pulling out of the mar­ket the drop in prices will actu­ally most hurt recent first home buy­ers, who are locked into pay­ing mort­gages taken out for over-inflated house prices. Ironic if you con­sider that the first home owner’s grant has been one of the con­tribut­ing fac­tors in the cur­rent real estate infla­tion.

    Given the cur­rent debt lev­els, fur­ther drops in real estate val­ues, or should I say ‘per­ceived’ real estate val­ues mean that the debt to asset ratio will con­tinue to increase with­out nec­es­sar­ily increas­ing the debt com­po­nent.

    When and how could this mar­ket bot­tom out and what is the poten­tial for future growth?

  • Enrico Palazzo

    Well done Steve for the blog!

    I find it incred­i­ble that our so-called “author­i­ties” keep spout­ing the “asset based econ­omy” model, which in real­ity is paper money based, whereby debt lev­els do not mat­ter as they are pro­por­tion­ally a lit­tle piece of the pie. Then again they got con­stituents to keep BS’ing to.

    I think there are many lessons to be learnt from the Japan­ese expe­ri­ence of the 90’s — there is a “short­age of land” there too! Look what hap­pened to the stock mar­ket, prop­erty, all asset prices — they’ve been push­ing on a string for lit­tle effect for years now!

    Inter­est­ingly last week I had the ear of a pretty well respected prop­erty com­men­ta­tor, who is sug­gest­ing Syd­ney is pos­si­bly about to turn the cor­ner, ref­er­enc­ing increased auc­tion clear­ance rates, no rate hikes, and ris­ing incomes. I asked where aver­age prices could pos­si­bly go given they are still in excess of eight times income — no real answer. I asked if the baby boomers (45 to 55) (who own most of it) will fund their retire­ment short­falls over the next ten or so years by sell­ing up or down­siz­ing — no real answer. I also asked how can the aver­age Joe pos­si­bly take on more debt to take up this slack (unless incomes BOOM) — no real answer.

    I really believe the BEST case sce­nario is an extended period of ‘flat­ness’ as the imbal­ance ease thier way out. Worst case — defla­tion­ary depres­sion.

    Any com­ments from the board on Aus­tralias money sup­ply growth (13% last year) — I’ve never seen it men­tioned in the media!

    cheers

    Enrico Palazzo-Ponzi Scheme

  • foun­da­tion

    Hi Karl,

    I agree that many first time buy­ers will find they were not actu­ally helped by the FHOG at all. To your ques­tion, “when and how could this mar­ket bot­tom out and what is the poten­tial for future growth?” I can’t pre­dict when the bot­tom will be. In regards to future growth, I think we can work back­wards towards an answer. This is long-winded and awk­ward, so bear with me. The ques­tion we need to ask is “how much debt do we have, how much can we han­dle now and into the future, and what does this imply for the future of house prices?”

    So how indebted are we? Steve’s monthly newslet­ter focuses on the big pic­ture – the amount of debt com­pared to GDP on a national level. The hous­ing mar­ket is smaller, and I believe it’s more infor­ma­tive to look at hous­ing debt and pri­vate incomes. 

    THD = total hous­ing debt in Aus­tralia.

    THD is pub­lished monthly by the Reserve Bank (D02 LENDING AND CREDIT AGGREGATES – Col­umn L, Hous­ing (includ­ing secu­ri­ti­sa­tions)). This stands at $826.9 bil­lion as of Decem­ber.

    TPI = total pri­vate income in Aus­tralia.

    There are many ways to esti­mate income. I don’t know whether eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sion­als have a pre­ferred mea­sure. I’ve looked at the ABS’s 5206.0 Final House­hold Con­sump­tion Expen­di­ture, but decided it was prone to dis­tor­tions. So I use a crude mea­sure instead, the prod­uct of employ­ment num­bers (ABS 6202.0 — Labour Force – Trend Employed Per­sons) and income (ABS 6302.0 — Aver­age Weekly Earn­ings – Series A597108W).

    Novem­ber 2006, AWE = 846.7, Employed Per­sons = 10,315,300. Annual income esti­mate = $454.1 bil­lion.

    While this fig­ure is far from per­fect, and omits non-wage earn­ings such as share div­i­dends and inter­est pay­ments, I think it’s rea­son­ably rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the income of peo­ple who are likely to be house buy­ing. Plus it’s replic­a­ble.

    So we owe $827 bil­lion and earn $454 bil­lion. Our debt-to-income ratio (DIR) is around 180% using this mea­sure. Of course we don’t need to repay the whole lot at once, just the inter­est pay­ments. The cost of this debt ser­vic­ing cur­rently aver­ages 7.65% (con­ser­v­a­tively), for a total annual bill of $63 bil­lion. Our debt-ser­vic­ing ratio (DSR) is 13.8% of our TPI. Note that TPI is gross income. Debt to post-tax income is higher. Note I’ve also ignored required pay­ment towards loan prin­ci­pal.

    This is where we start to tease out some clues. Using the sta­tis­tics above, we have never paid such a large pro­por­tion of our incomes to mort­gage inter­est. The high inter­est rates of the early 90s didn’t even come close. Yet 13.8% appears on the whole to be man­age­able. Repos­ses­sion rates, though ris­ing alarm­ingly, are at very low lev­els.

    If 13.8% is man­age­able, is 15%? 20%? 25?

    One answer is – it doesn’t mat­ter! More on that later. The other answer is full of assump­tions and guess­work. If we take hous­ing costs above 30% of gross income to cause hous­ing stress (this is gen­er­ous as often >30% net is used), assume that 33% of peo­ple rent and another 33% have repaid an aver­age of 50% of their loan prin­ci­ple… See, I told you it was full of assump­tions! Any­way, if we do all this we find that 33% of the group are left pay­ing 66% of the inter­est. That would be cost­ing them 28% of their gross wage, very close to the 30% limit. It may be even worse, given many would be recent buy­ers who bought at the height of the boom but are yet to reach their peak in earn­ings…

    Back to “it doesn’t mat­ter”! Over the long term the DSR will nat­u­rally fluc­tu­ate but can­not con­tinue to rise indef­i­nitely. If it did, it would first take food from tables and even­tu­ally cost every cent of income earned. The actual num­ber at which it stops ris­ing is far less impor­tant than the fact that it must stop ris­ing. Sup­pos­ing the DSR stopped at 13.8% for­ever. If incomes didn’t rise and inter­est rates remained con­stant, the debt level wouldn’t rise either. In effect, there would be no addi­tional money avail­able for new mort­gages. Only repaid money could be re-loaned. 

    In real­ity, incomes do rise. To main­tain the 13.8% DSR, for every new dol­lar earned, 13.8c would go towards inter­est pay­ments on a loan. At 7.65% inter­est, this 13.8c would sup­port $1.80 in new lend­ing – in other words, DIR would stay at 180%. 

    Work­ing back­wards now – with TPI at $454 bil­lion, if incomes (includ­ing addi­tional employ­ment) rise by 5% over the year, TPI will rise by $22.7 bil­lion. With a 13.8% DSR, that enables an addi­tional $41.3 bil­lion in mort­gage debt with no addi­tional pres­sure on house­holds. The prob­lem is, we added $103 bil­lion in mort­gage debt last year alone! If we accept that at some point the DSR and DIR must sta­bilise then we must accept that mort­gage debt accu­mu­la­tion must fall to below annual income appre­ci­a­tion.

    What does this imply for prices? We need to now look to another 3 sta­tis­tics – hous­ing turnover, aver­age new loan size and loan to pur­chase price ratio. Actu­ally, that last one is prob­a­bly unnec­es­sary. A healthy hous­ing mar­ket needs an aver­age turnover of around 5% of dwellings per year (see RBA Finan­cial Sta­bil­ity – March 2006). With around 8.4 mil­lion dwellings, that would be 420,000 per year. 

    The aver­age new loan size was $226,000 in Decem­ber (ABS 5609.0 — Hous­ing Finance), and around 500,000 dwellings were bought and sold dur­ing the finan­cial year (5609.0 TABLE 1. HOUSING FINANCE COMMITMENTS – Col­umn L). Loan size x Turnover is about 13% higher than the growth in mort­gage debt, pre­sum­ably the result of sales by indebted indi­vid­u­als (new mort­gage replaces old mort­gage).

    To the pointy end. If hous­ing debt growth were to fall this year from $103 bil­lion to $41 bil­lion, one of the fol­low­ing would need to occur:

    - New mort­gages fall to an aver­age of $90,000
    — Hous­ing turnover falls to 205,000 or 2.4% of stock
    — A lesser com­bi­na­tion of both. Per­haps turnover falls to 400,000 and the aver­age mort­gage to $115,000. Per­haps turnover falls to 300,000 and the aver­age mort­gage falls to $155,000.

    Let’s say the lat­ter. A $71,000 drop in the aver­age new loan might rea­son­ably trans­late to a $71,000 drop in the aver­age house price. This doesn’t look so bad, as lit­tle as a 20% cor­rec­tion, fol­lowed by busi­ness as usual! Not quite. Remem­ber that prices (ignor­ing the Decem­ber REI boost which is his­tor­i­cally fol­lowed by an equal or worse fall in the fol­low­ing quar­ter) are already down 10% in much of Syd­ney and Mel­bourne.

    This would not be just a short dip, it would need to be a sus­tained shift in pric­ing and turnover lev­els, which would only rise grad­u­ally in line with incomes. A 5% increase in incomes would sup­port a 5% increase in debt.

    Did I take the long road to the answer? Yes. But was it worth it? No. Well does it leave any doubt that this will occur? Yes, just a lit­tle? Huh? Oh I give up.

  • foun­da­tion

    Apolo­gies for such a long post. Abbre­vi­ated:

    Over the long term, house prices can­not rise faster than wages in per­cent­age terms.

  • I’ll try to include cov­er­age of money growth as Enrico sug­gests in the next Debt­watch report. In our credit money sys­tem, money is cre­ated with debt, and the rate of growth of money is thus sim­i­lar to (but not the same as) the rate of growth of debt.

    I’ll also include sta­tis­tics on the US sit­u­a­tion. Amaz­ingly, we’ve caught up to the USA hous­ing debt level in the last 20 years–even though the USA has been “mak­ing the news” on mort­gages. The chart show­ing this may turn up in tonight’s Late­Line pro­gram.

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