Bubble Watch: US Margin Debt Now Equal the Economy of Taiwan

Friday, December 1, 2017
By Paul Martin

By: Graham Summers
Friday, 1 December 2017

When Central Banks attempted to corner the sovereign bond market via ZIRP and QE, they forced ALL risk in the financial system to adjust lower.

Remember, in a fiat-based monetary system such as the one used by the world today, sovereign bonds NOT gold are the ultimate backstop for the financial system.

And for the US, which controls the reserve currency of the world, sovereign bonds, also called Treasuries, represent the “risk-free” rate of return for the entire world.

So when the Fed moved to corner this market, forcing the yields on these bonds to drop to all-time lows, it was effectively forcing ALL risk in the US financial system to adjust to an abnormal risk-profile.

Put simply, the Fed created a bubble in bonds, which in turn fueled a bubble in everything.

Yes, everything… corporate bonds, municipal bonds, stocks, even consumer credit. Indeed, nine years into this insanity things have reach such egregious levels of excess that even tertiary debt instruments such as margin debt have reached levels greater than ever before.

What is margin debt?

Margin debt is money that stock investors borrow in order to buy stocks. It is direct leverage. And it just hit a new record… or $561 billion.

To put this number into perspective, it is:

1) Equal to the entire economy of Asian powerhouse Taiwan.

2) Nearly greater than the amount of margin debt borrowed at the peak of the last bubble in 2007 50%.

3) DOUBLE the amount of margin debt borrowed at the peak of the Tech Bubble.

Now, no one in their right mind would argue that late 2000 or late 2007 were periods of fiscal restraint.

Well, today investors are borrowing hundreds of billions or dollars MORE to invest in the stock market than they were at those times.

The Rest…HERE

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