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Deleveraging: Why The US Economy Will End Not With A Whimper But A Bang

The last observation is key as it has rather startling implications to David Rosenberg's theme of the New Frugal Normal. It would appear consumers do not, in fact, moderate their spending while still in possession of credit (regardless of its cost) - quite the contrary: they accelerate spending until the charge off threshold at the lender is breached, and all credit is cut off, also resulting in a collapse in a creditor's FICO score, cutting him or her off completely from future (at least near term) credit access. Thus what is occurring at the end of a typical consumer credit lifespan, is not a whimper but a massive bang. What happens after may require Stephen Hawking's explanation rather than David Rosenberg. The conclusion is that consumers do not pass a moderate "go" on their way to insolvency, they go from hyperleverage straight into bankruptcy. What this means for consumption as observed on the supply-side, i.e., sales at stores like Nordtstroms and Barneys, is that instead of trendlines being indicative of what is truly happening behind the scenes, we have now entered a phase where sales will spike only to drop off in a quantized, step-wise fashion, rather than a linear drop off. This would make all the sense in the world, when one considers that side by side with the observed "deleveraging" of consumers, sales at aspirational store concepts are in fact surging, as the broke middle class performs one last "swan song" rampage of purchasing every Gucci and Chanel bag available, before saying goodbye to credit for a long, long time. And with unemployment still at record highs, and soon to take another leg higher, paychecks continuing to decline, excess capacity at record highs, 99 week EUC and Extended Claims reaching their ceiling 2 year anniversary from the Lehman collapse, and the general economy double dipping, the implications of this will be dire, as there will be no gradual decline. Instead, to borrow another cosmological term, instead of the US economy decelerating at a rate proportional to the removal of credit from the system, it will grow and grow until it hits supergiant status, only to collapse into a neutron star (or worse) singularity, in which only the Fed will be left beyond the event horizon, only to suffer a similar fate in its last ditch failed attempt to stimulate hyperinflation and rescue the US consumer and banking classes from the infinite gravitational pull of a failed Keynesian experiment.

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