Mar 24, 2017

The bank lending slowdown is bad news for U.S. economy

In a research note to clients, UBS Strategist Stephen Caprio argues that investor confidence — evidenced by high stock market valuations — may may be misplaced, given a recent slowdown in bank lending.

Data: U.S. Federal Reserve Board; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

U.S. bank loan growth by domestic banks is falling in nearly almost category, most especially "commercial and industrial" loans. Caprio points out that this decline is not being made up by higher growth in corporate bond issuance, and is being driven mostly by a lack of demand for borrowing.

Why it matters: Companies are issuing less debt due to a mix of uncertainty regarding tax and spending policy, already high debt levels in the U.S. corporate sector, and the threat of higher interest rates. Investors are counting on stronger global growth to help U.S. companies overcome these headwinds, but they may be discounting the chances that some sort of shock — like the 2014 oil price collapse — constrains growth and triggers a stock market pullback or correction.

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The world's fast-growing mountain of debt

The world's total debt surged by some $9 trillion in the first three quarters of 2019, according to data from the Institute of International Finance, bringing the world's total debt load to $253 trillion, or 322% of its GDP — a record high.

Why it matters: In times of economic strength, economists exhort countries to pare back their debt burdens and pay it down to protect against future unrest and downturn.

Go deeperArrowJan 13, 2020

A decline in business lending shows the impact of manufacturing's struggles

Data: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Chart: Axios Visuals

U.S. commercial and industrial lending fell by $9 billion in December, the largest drop in nearly three years, and the total amount of C&I loans declined to levels last seen in May, data from the St. Louis Fed shows.

Why it matters: The decline in lending to commercial and industrial businesses is the latest sign that the recession in U.S. manufacturing and continued struggles in goods-producing sectors of the economy are spreading. The Commerce Department reported that U.S. business investment had contracted for six straight months as of the third quarter, and had the biggest drop since the end of 2015 in Q3.

Go deeper: Manufacturing should bounce back in 2020

Keep ReadingArrowJan 15, 2020

The generational confidence gap

Data: The Conference Board, DB Global Research; Chart: Axios Visuals

November's consumer confidence report showed the largest gap between the confidence of consumers under 35 and those over 55 in the history of the Conference Board's report.

The state of play: Younger people have typically had higher confidence scores, but that has changed in recent years, the data show.

Go deeperArrowJan 3, 2020