China sold off the highest level of US Treasurys in nearly 2-1/2 years in March. Meanwhile, there are renewed fears the Chinese could implement its “nuclear options” and sell off even more US debt in retaliation for US trade war tariffs.
China sold $10.45 billion in Treasuries in March. That was the biggest US debt dump by China since October 2016.
The markets have been up and down this week, riding the trade war roller coaster. And analysts can’t seem to decide if the data of the day is telling us that the economy is sound or slowing. But we do know one thing for sure – there is a lot of debt out there, and there are signs that it might be catching up with us. In this episode of the Friday Gold Wrap podcast, host Mike Maharrey talks student loan and auto loan debt, and what it be telling us about the economy. He also covers some of the latest trade war news and the last batch of economic data.
Auto loan delinquencies have surged to the highest level since 2011 and are approaching levels seen at their peak during the Great Recession.
The percentage of outstanding auto loans in serious delinquency (90 days or more past due) jumped to 4.69% in the first quarter of 2019, according to the latest data from the New York Fed. At their peak during the recession, auto loan delinquencies hit 5.27%.
The rate of delinquency on student loan debt pushed up to 9.5% in the first quarter of 2019, even as total student loan debt climbed to $1.49 trillion according to the latest debt data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Student loan debt ranks as the second-largest consumer debt category, trailing only mortgages.
While President Trump nags the Federal Reserve to reinstitute Obama-era monetary stimulus, China has already taken off down that path. And it actually has some people in the mainstream concerned.
According to a Reuters report, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is warning that while Chinese government stimulus may boost the country’s economy in the short-run, it “may undermine the country’s drive to control debt and worsen structural distortions over the medium term.”
Last week we reported that the yield curve on US Treasurys had inverted after the yield on the 10-year fell below the yield on 3-year bonds for the first time since 2007 – the cusp of the Great Recession. This has historically been an early-warning sign signaling a recession.
Now we have some more bad news for bond markets – this time on a global scale. The amount of government debt with negative yields has vaulted back above the $10 trillion mark and now makes up a full one-fifth of the global bond market.
The federal government set an all-time record budget deficit in February. And this is with a Republican in the White House. The GOP is supposed to be the fiscally responsible party. In this episode of the Friday Gold Wrap, host Mike Maharrey offers some interesting analysis that reveals spending money in Washington DC is really a bipartisan sport. He also talks about Thursday’s selloff in gold and silver, explains why dollar strength is something of an illusion and illustrates how the way “the market” thinks is often pretty dumb.
The Fed wrapped up another FOMC meeting this week and came out even more dovish than expected. Rate hikes are off the table in 2019 and the central bank now only expects one hike in 2020. In his episode of the Friday Gold Wrap, host Mike Maharrey talks about the meeting and the dirty little secret Reuters let slip out. The goal here is to get you to spend more money and keep the bubble full of air. As Mike put it, “The Fed is trying to feed the debt monster and it wants you to pick up the tab.” He also covered the meeting’s impact on the markets and the latest in political theater.
Americans owe over $1 trillion in credit card debt and recent polling data indicates they aren’t paying off those balances anytime soon.
According to a CNBC article, nearly half of all Americans carry a balance on their credit cards. Of those, only 30% say they will be able to pay off that balance within the next year.
As we reported last week, consumer debt continues to break records month after month. Americans owe over $4.3 trillion dollars in revolving debt (primarily credit cards), student loans and auto loans. When you factor in mortgages, the number climbs to $13.54 trillion. That figure was $869 billion higher than the previous peak of $12.68 trillion in the third quarter of 2008 (right before the crash) and 21.4% above the post-financial-crisis trough reached in the second quarter of 2013.
But many mainstream analysts downplay this surge in debt. And on the surface, the numbers do seem to indicate the risk isn’t as big as it was prior to the 2008 financial crisis. But as Wolf Richter explains, the averages conceal a different reality.