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  • In the last financial crisis household debt was at the very

  • centre of the storm.

  • Bad US mortgages and bad mortgage securitisations

  • forced the entire global financial system into disarray.

  • This time the crisis is caused by a virus

  • not by a financial product.

  • But it is still worth asking whether the $14.3tn in US

  • household debt might not act as a dangerous accelerant,

  • making an already serious crisis much worse.

  • There have been 36m new jobless claims

  • since the Covid-19 virus took hold of the US economy.

  • If those translate into waves of defaults

  • and personal bankruptcies the ripples

  • will be felt across the world.

  • But there is some good news.

  • First, the US government has shovelled billions of dollars

  • directly into the US economy, cutting cheques directly

  • to households, supplementing unemployment

  • insurance, and more.

  • Second, both borrowers and lenders

  • seem to have learned some important lessons

  • since the last crisis.

  • Household debt relative to household incomes

  • has come down significantly over the last 10 years.

  • Falling interest rates have amplified this effect.

  • Household interest payments relative to household incomes

  • are not just low; they are at all-time lows.

  • But there is some less encouraging news as well.

  • Much of the deleveraging that has

  • taken place in US households over the last 10 years

  • has been in mortgages.

  • Americans owe less on and have more equity in their homes

  • than they have in years.

  • But if you take those mortgages out of the picture,

  • the deleveraging looks much less impressive.

  • Americans owe only a little less on their credit cards

  • and against their cars than they did a decade ago.

  • Even before Covid-19 hit delinquencies on auto loans

  • and credit card loans were already

  • rising, as underwriting standards have

  • fallen as the last crisis has disappeared

  • into the rearview mirror.

  • Many of the job losses caused by Covid-19

  • are in industries like hotels and restaurants

  • that employ a lot of hourly workers who may not own homes

  • but are likely to owe money on their cars

  • and on their credit cards.

  • Government support should keep these and other workers

  • current on their debt payments for now.

  • But eventually, the government's support will stop.

  • And if the jobs have not returned by then,

  • there will be a wave of defaults and personal bankruptcies,

  • the consequences of which we can only guess at.

In the last financial crisis household debt was at the very

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カウントするチャート:Covid-19は負債爆弾の導火線に火をつけるのか? (Charts that Count: will Covid-19 light the fuse on a debt bomb?)

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    洪子雯 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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