The credit cycle and zombies’ downfall, by Alasdair Macleod

Once interest rates start moving up in earnest and credit begins to contract rather than expand, financial asset prices will fall and economies will contract. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:

Leading central banks like to think that through careful interest rate management, they have tamed the economic cycles which lead to regular economic downturns. Instead, they have only managed to bury the evidence.

To appreciate the extent of their delusion one must understand the source of economic instability. In modern times it has always been driven by a cycle of bank credit. In this article the role of commercial banking in this regard is explained. The effect on non-financial economic sectors in the context of Hayek’s triangle under today’s currency regime is re-examined.

With cyclical variations in the economy buried under a tsunami of currency, market participants are oblivious to the dangers of a cyclical downturn in bank lending and the consequences that flow therefrom.

This article gives the problem its economic and monetary context. It concludes that the global banking system is horribly over-leveraged and, with empirical evidence as our guide, on the edge of a bank credit contraction of historic proportions, likely to undermine the entire fiat currency system.

Introduction

Readers of articles that dissent from the mainstream media’s complacency might be aware that there are many zombie corporations which only exist courtesy of low interest rates or government support. The story often goes further. These are businesses loaded to the gunwales with unproductive debt, vulnerable to being swamped and sunk by higher interest rates. The extent of the problem is undoubtedly greater than most people think.

We have arrived at this point with economies around the globe cluttered with unproductive businesses which would otherwise have been cleared out in an unsuppressed interest rate environment. Schumpeter’s process of creative destruction would have done its work. Without it, the current situation presents enormous dangers now that with price inflation rising, interest rates will almost certainly increase in the coming months. Central banks appear to be conscious of this danger, given their evident reluctance to permit rates to rise, even fractionally. Rising interest rates also blow holes in their narrative, that they have succeeded in managing economic cycles out of existence.

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