What this graph shows, astonishingly, is that a dollar added to the monetary base now has a NEGATIVE multiplier effect. Without showing yet another chart, bank lending has fallen percentagewise the most in 67 years. The actual amount of bank loans is falling each and every quarter, with no signs of a bottom. Consumers are reducing their debt and leverage. Bank loans are being written off at staggering rates. Over 700 banks (I think that is the figure I saw) are officially on watch by the FDIC, with more banks being closed each week.
There is at least $300-400 billion in losses on commercial real estate waiting to be written down. Housing foreclosures are rising and hundreds of billions have yet to be written off. As more families fall into unemployment or underemployment, there will be more writedowns. Is it any wonder that banks are having to shore up their balance sheets and make fewer loans?
With capacity utilization just off all-time lows, why should we expect businesses to borrow to increase capacity? Inventory levels are much lower than two years ago. Businesses no longer need to finance as much inventory. They simply need less.
Dennis Gartman writes:
"Effectively the Fed had become a cash machine rather than a monetary expansion machine. At the end of last year, the multiplier had actually fallen to less than 1.0 and the trend remains downward. If anyone had told us five years ago that the money multiplier would be down to 1.0 we would have laughed. The laugh, however, would have been upon us, for it is there and it is still falling. Hard it shall be to sponsor strong economic growth when no one really wants to take a loan or when few banks want to make a loan. The "game" of banking has been turned upon its head, and the strength of the economy suffers while inflationary pressures (at least for now) remain virtually non-existent."
Next week (or within a few weeks) we will review the velocity of money, as the normal, accustomed relationships about money supply and inflation are proving to be wrong. We live in extraordinary times. We are coming to the End Game of the debt supercycle that has lasted for 70 years. Everything is changing in front of our eyes. It compels us to understand the basics of how economies function, and what is both different and not different about the times we are in.
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