Economic Roadkill:Why the Fed’s Consumer Credit Report is Rotten to the Core
By Mike Whitney
If you really want to know what’s going on with the economy, you should take a look at the Fed’s Consumer Credit Report that was released on Thursday. Yes, it’s a real snoozer, but it does reveal the truth behind all the “recovery” hype. So, let’s cut to the chase: When unemployment is high and wages are stagnant, the only way the economy can grow is through credit expansion. That’s why economists pay so much attention to the credit report, because it lets them see if we’re making progress or not. Right now, we’re not making any headway at all. Of course, the cheerleading media see things differently. Here’s a clip from an article in Bloomberg that puts a positive spin on a truly dismal report:
“Credit increased $12 billion after a revised $11.3 billion rise in June, the Federal Reserve said today in Washington. Economists projected a $6 billion gain, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. The rise in non-revolving loans was the most since November 2001.” (“U.S. Consumer Borrowing Rose by $12 Billion in July, Twice Amount Forecast”, Bloomberg)
Hooray! The US consumer is off the canvas and borrowing again. Let the celebration begin!
Not so fast. The uptick in credit spending is entirely attributable to subprime auto loans and government-backed student loans, both of which are a mere extension of the same Ponzi-finance scam that put the global economy into cardiac arrest. Every other area of credit expansion is on-the-ropes. Commercial banks, finance companies, credit unions, savings institutions, nonfinancial businesses, and pools of securitized assets are all flatlining. No progress at all. In other words, the only way to induce tightfisted consumers to spend money they don’t have is by either seducing them with “No-down, easy-pay, 60-month-no-interest” financing or by hoodwinking them about the 6-figure income they’ll net after they finish their college education at Lunkhead U.
Case in point; check out this article on subprime auto loans in Reuters: