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U.S. Debt and Equities Since 1981

Doug Noland’s weekly commentary that provided some hard numbers to back up Bill Gross’ recent claim that the end may be nigh for the global financial system as we know it seemed to just be crying out for someone to make a stacked bar chart or two, so, voila!

Of course, for data points that span 33 years, you have to somehow adjust this to take into account population growth and inflation. Looking at stocks and bonds as a percentage of GDP seems like the right thing to do here, so, again, voila!

Less dramatic, to be sure, but equally disturbing when you think about it.

I mean, what, aside from the grotesque multi-decade expansion and current size of the global financial system itself, is so different between 1981 and 2014.

This story at The Nation about Baltimore’s economic ills that have led to this city being the country’s latest hotspot on police conduct and inequality points to a Pew Research poll from a couple of years ago that provides the following take on how vastly different household assets and debts are between blacks and whites in the U.S.

Note that these are averages, not medians, and the latter would show a much more accurate picture of the “typical” black or white American.

Nonetheless, the asset-to-debt ratios and the components of each offer compelling evidence of just how broad the economic/financial divide currently is between races.

Turning Chinese?

Much has been made of the leveraged speculative frenzy by undereducated Chinese day traders halfway around the world but, based on this update on NYSE margin debt from Doug Short late last week, U.S. lenders (and markets) are quickly catching up.

Of course, this comes at a time when money continues to flow out of stock funds, at least according to this Marketwatch story from Friday. Not to worry though, confidence remains high as the price of just about everything is going up again today…

Another Stunning Long-Term Chart

From a recent presentation(.pdf) by Agustín Carstens, Bank of Mexico governor and chairman of the IMF’s International Monetary and Financial Committee, via this item at Wolf Street comes the chart below that, once again, reminds us all how far removed the global financial system is from anything that could be considered “normal”.

Carstens doesn’t oppose recent interest rate and QE policies by central banks, but he is quite concerned about how it all turns out, summing things up rather nicely by noting:

The crux of the matter is that financial risk-taking has been far more responsive to unconventional monetary policies than real risk-taking has been.

This would be less troubling (well, at least a little less troubling) if not for the fact that the world’s most important central bankers in general (and former Fed Chief Bernanke in particular) have never acknowledged that “the reach for yield” even exists.

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