How Peak Debt Constrain the Fed from Moving Rates Higher, by Eugen

From Eugene Von Böhm-Bawerk, well-versed in debtonomics at bawerk.net:

We have argued for a long time that 2016 will probably be a year of recession in the US and the Federal Reserve’s intent on raising rates will only help expedite it. We believe the current rate cycle will be short lived as the Federal Reserve is constrained by the heavy debt load weighing on the US economy. Or more specifically, the large share of unproductive and counterproductive debt that drain the US economy for resources.

Source: Federal Reserve – Financial Accounts of the United States (Z.1), Bawerk.net

Since most added debt in the US economy, or the world for that matter, is consumptive in nature it adds nothing to the capital base and must therefore be repaid from legacy asset which were once put into productive usage. However, as the non-productive share increases relatively to the productive part, the system naturally comes under strain and will eventually reach debt saturation through capital consumption.

This process can be seen through different metrics, such as the fact that it takes ever more debt to “create” an extra unit of GDP, or the falling velocity of money; as more money get diverted toward unproductive debt servicing, less will be available for productive investments. That in turn, duly lowers GDP growth. Stated differently, lower velocity of money suggest the economy has reached debt saturation. If that’s the case, monetary policy becomes impotent. True; central bank balance sheet expansion may create the illusion that it isn’t, but that’s only because it helps to maintain funding for unproductive debt, which otherwise would be liquidated. This can only go on for so long though as avoiding consequences of reality is never a long term solution.

To continue reading: How Peak Debt Constrain the Fed from Moving Rates Higher

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