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Debt in China has increased dramatically in recent years, accounting for roughly one-half of all new credit created globally since 2005. The country’s share of total global credit is nearly 25 percent, up from 5 percent ten years ago. By some measures (as documented below), China’s credit boom has reached the point where countries typically encounter financial stress, which could spill over to international markets given the size of the Chinese economy. To better understand the associated risks, it is important to examine the drivers of China’s expansion in credit, the increasing complexity of its financial system, and evidence that its supply of credit may be growing more rapidly than reported. Note, however, that there are several features of China’s financial system that reduce the threat of a financial disruption.
There has been much debate about the proposed border tax adjustment, in which U.S. firms would pay a 20 percent tax on all imported inputs and be exempt from paying taxes on export revenue. The view among many economists, including proponents of the plan, is that the U.S. dollar would appreciate by the full amount of the tax and thus completely offset any relative price effects. In this post, we consider the implications of an alternative scenario where the U.S. dollar only appreciates part of the way. This could happen, for example, as a result of the uncertainty surrounding the policy response from other countries. As the proposed tax is effectively equivalent to an import tax combined with an export subsidy, it is possible that there could be retaliation from other countries in the form of taxes on U.S. exports or litigation with the World Trade Organization. If the U.S. dollar does not appreciate by the full amount of the tax, we argue that the effect of the tax will be to lower both U.S. imports and exports in the short to medium run.
Every quarter, senior loan officers at selected large banks around the United States are asked by Fed economists how their standards for approving business loans changed compared with the quarter before. Of all the questions in the Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey (SLOOS), responses to that question about standards usually attract the most attention from the financial press and researchers. Relatively ignored by comparison are loan officers’ reports on how they changed interest spreads, collateral requirements, and other terms on loans they are willing to approve. Lenders can clearly expand or contract credit by altering those terms even without changing their standards for approving loans, so we investigate whether the reports on loan terms collected in the SLOOS are also informative.
The homeownership rate—the percentage of households that own rather than rent the homes that they live in—has fallen sharply since mid-2005. In fact, in the second quarter of 2016 the homeownership rate fell to 62.9 percent, its lowest level since 1965. In this blog post, we look at underlying demographic trends to gain a deeper understanding of the large increase in the homeownership rate from 1995 to 2005 and the subsequent large decline. Although there is reason to believe that the homeownership rate may begin to rise again in the not-too-distant future, it is unlikely to fully recover to its previous peak levels. This is a disconcerting finding for those who view homeownership as an integral part of the American Dream and a key component of income security during retirement.
Marco Del Negro, Marc Giannoni, Abhi Gupta, Pearl Li, and Erica Moszkowski
This post presents the latest update of the economic forecasts generated by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s (FRBNY) dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model. We introduced this model in a series of blog posts in September 2014 and published forecasts twice a year thereafter. With this post, we move to a quarterly release schedule, and highlight how our forecasts have changed since November 2016.
Andrew Haughwout, Donghoon Lee, Joelle Scally, and Wilbert van der Klaauw
The latest Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit from the New York Fed’s Center for Microeconomic Data showed a substantial increase in aggregate household debt balances in the fourth quarter of 2016 and for the year as a whole. As of December 31, 2016, total household debt stood at $12.58 trillion, an increase of $226 billion (or 1.8 percent) from the third quarter of 2016. Total household debt is now just 0.8 percent ($99 billion) below its third quarter 2008 peak of $12.68 trillion, and 12.8 percent above the second quarter 2013 trough. But debt looks very different in 2016 than it did the last time we saw this level of indebtedness.
The homeownership rate peaked at 69 percent in late 2004. By the summer of 2016, it had dropped below 63 percent—exactly where it was when the government started reporting these data back in 1965. The housing bust played a central role in this decline. We capture this effect through what we call the homeownership gap—the difference between the official homeownership rate and the “effective” rate where only homeowners with positive equity in their house are counted. The effective rate takes into account that a borrower does not in an economic sense own the house if the mortgage debt is greater than the house’s value. In this post, we show that between 2005 and 2012, the effective rate fell well below, and put downward pressure on, the official rate. We also demonstrate that the increase in house prices and the exit of millions of homeowners through foreclosure has largely eliminated the gap between the official and effective homeownership rates.
Andreas Fuster, Eilidh Geddes, and Andrew Haughwout
Housing equity is the primary form of collateral that households use for borrowing. This makes it a potentially important source of consumption funding, especially for younger households. In a previous post we showed that owner’s equity in residential real estate has finally, thanks to increasing home prices, rebounded to and essentially re-attained its 2005 peak level. Yet in spite of a gain of more than $7 trillion in housing equity since 2012, so far homeowners haven’t been tapping this equity at anything like the pace we witnessed during the housing boom that ended in 2006. In this post, we analyze the changes in equity withdrawal.
Andreas Fuster, Eilidh Geddes, and Andrew Haughwout
In yesterday’s post, we discussed the extreme swings that household leverage has taken since 2005, using combined loan-to-value (CLTV) ratios for housing as our metric. We also explored the risks that current household leverage presents in the event of a significant downturn in prices. Today we reverse the perspective, and consider housing equity—the value of housing net of all debt for which it serves as collateral. For the majority of households, housing equity is the principal form of wealth, other than human capital, and it thus represents an important form of potential collateral for borrowing. In that sense, housing equity is an opportunity in the same way that housing leverage is a risk. It turns out that aggregate housing equity at the end of 2015 was very close, in nominal terms, to its pre-crisis (2005) level. But housing wealth has moved to a different group of people—made up of people who are older and have higher credit scores than a decade ago. In today’s post, we look at the evolution of housing equity and its owners.
Andreas Fuster, Eilidh Geddes, Benedict Guttman-Kenney, and Andrew Haughwout
Housing is by far the most important asset for most households, and, not coincidentally, housing debt dwarfs other household liabilities. The relationship between housing debt and housing values figures significantly in financial and macroeconomic stability, as events during the housing bust of 2006-12 clearly demonstrated. This week, Liberty Street Economics presents five posts touching on various aspects of housing, from the changing relationship between mortgage debt and housing equity to the future of homeownership. In today’s post, we provide estimates of housing equity and explore how vulnerable households are to declines in house prices, using methods introduced in our paper “Tracking and Stress Testing U.S. Household Leverage.”
Liberty Street Economics features insight and analysis from economists working at the intersection of research and policy. The editors are Michael Fleming, Andrew Haughwout, Thomas Klitgaard, and Donald Morgan.
The views expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the New York Fed or the Federal Reserve System.
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