Hung Over on Debt

American business appears to be hung over on a massive debt fest from before the financial crisis. Debt Overhang to be more specific. It's so bad, it's causing real investment which in turn generates real jobs for the real economy which generates real growth... to be muted. One problem, the declining values of assets, specifically commercial real estate.

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland researcher Filippo Occhino delves deep, complete with crayons, on how debt overhang is negatively impacting business investment.

The below video explains debt overhang in simple terms, real simple, must watch simple.



Turning to adult versions of crayons, here is Occhino's graph of assets to business debt. Notice the asset to debt ratio historic high. (To read las matemáticas version of the research, pdf here).


Pecunia Emptor

By Numerian

Dig deep enough into any financial crash and you will find leverage – someone, somewhere has borrowed money to invest in the asset in speculation. In the US stock market crash of 1929, the main culprit was margin. Investors were allowed by their broker to buy shares with money borrowed from the broker, and to buy more shares with the profits on their existing shares. When prices peaked and began to fall, the brokers discovered their customers no longer had enough value in their shares to cover the loan to the broker, so they issued a “margin call”. If the customer couldn’t come up with more pure cash to restore a positive collateral value for the broker’s loan (and many couldn’t), the shares were sold and the loan repaid. As customer after customer faced margin calls, shares were pressured lower and lower, and hence the cascading price decline known as a market crash.

The Global Agenda: Privatizing the Planet

Debt, Debt Trading and Why It Is Important

You don’t have to repay the advance we gave you last week, provided you spend half of it next week.

A bit of history on debt from Prof. Buckley of the University of New South Wales (Australia),

The beginning was in the early 1980s. And in the beginning were bad loans, and from the loins of these bad loans sprang debt-equity exchanges, which quickly begat debt-for-nature exchanges, and then debt-for-education exchanges, and most recently, debt-for-health exchanges. And today, when all the begatting has been done, the progeny are known mostly as debt-for-development exchanges, or sometimes as debt-for-investment projects (by those who wish to suggest for the technique a more commercial focus).

Where is the exchange when a rich country offers to cancel some of its loans to a poor country, if the poor country spends money on a development project? That’s like our saying to our daughter, ‘You don’t have to repay the advance we gave you last week, provided you spend half of it next week’. [1]

Thus we observe early forms of debt trading, of sorts.

In the debt-for-health segment of the professor's report, we also note:

The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, is another UN initiative. It is a public-private partnership which seeks to finance public health initiatives in developing countries.[1]

The honorable professor mentioned the early 1980s, so let us examine a presidential-level cabinet meeting which was taking place in the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, USA, at that time.

Treasury Trouble: Is the government giving bad TIPS?

A little story passed by the radar of most folks this past week. A piece of news that really shows the US reaching a watershed moment. What is this oh so awesome thing? Well it isn't awesome, in fact, it isn't good at all. Investors are starting to reject government securities.

Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) has been a staple investment for a long time, finding a home in portfolios big and small. So what are TIPS, and why should I care?

So what's the deal on TIPS?