Bank of America Stumbles On A $51 Trillion Problem

At the end of June, the Institute of International Finance delivered a troubling verdict: in a period of so-called "coordinated growth", total global debt (including financial) hit a new all time high of $217 trillion in 2017, over 327% of global GDP, and up $50 trillion over the past decade. Commenting then, we said "so much for Ray Dalio's beautiful deleveraging, oh and for those economists who are still confused why r-star remains near 0%, the chart  below has all the answers."



Today, in a follow up analysis of this surge in global debt offset by stagnant economic growth, BofA's Barnaby Martin writes that he finds "that as global debt has been mounting to more than $150 trillion (government, household and non-financials corporate debt), global GDP is just above $60 trillion." His observation is shown in the self-explanatory chart below. 



As a result, both the global economy and central banks are now held hostage by both the unprecedented stock of debt injected into capital markets over recent years to offset the financial crisis depression, and the record low interest rates associated with it. 


As Martin writes, "the global fixed income market (as captured by the GFIM index) is now above the $51trillion mark", which means that "more than $51 trillion at risk if rates vol spikes and yields move higher" and adds that "amid a record amount of assets acquired by the central banks we have seen the global fixed income market growing to the largest size it has ever been." This is shown in the left panel on the chart below, while the right side chart shows the accompanying housing bubble: "amid record low funding costs the housing market is also experiencing rapid price gains in some regions as prices are now higher than pre-GFC levels. All main housing markets (US, Europe, Japan and UK) are above the 2007 highs, propped-up by record low yield levels."



As a consequence of the above, both sides of the global wealth effect are at risk: not only the wealth effect for the "1%" via equity prices, but also the wealth effect for the middle class, in the form of real estate, which is traditionally where global middle classes have parked the bulk of their net worth.


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