Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The canary in the credit crunch coalmine

Historically, every recession has been accompanied by an equity bear market.

One characteristic of every recession has been a credit crunch. As the economy slows, banks react by tightening their lending criteria, which dries up the availability of credit, and eventually causes a credit crunch. There are a number of ways that investor can monitor the evolution of lending standards.

The most obvious way is to watch the Fed's lending officer survey. The latest data shows that readings remain benign for both corporate and individual borrowers. One disadvantage of the survey is the results only come out quarterly, which is not very timely and amounts to looking in the rear view mirror.

A more timely data series are the Chicago Fed`s Financial Conditions Index, and the St. Louis Fed`s Financial Stress Index. Current conditions show that Stress levels are starting to rise, though the absolute stress levels remain low. Both of these data series are released monthly, which is more timely than the lending officer surveys.

There may be a better real-time way of watching for a credit crunch.

The full post can be found at our new site here.

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