Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Junk Debt Increases by 58%--Boomers Are Screwedmers

On May 25 CNBC reported that Moody’s, the bond-rating service, has warned that since 2009 junk debt has increased by 58% and is at an all-time high (h/t Jim Rickards's Daily Proof). Mariarosa Verde and Daniel Gates of Moody's write:

The record number of highly leveraged non-financial companies globally has set the stage for a particularly large wave of defaults when the next period of broad economic stress ultimately arrives...Although the near-term credit outlook is benign and the speculative-grade default rate remains low, the non-financial corporate debt burden today is higher than its peak before the 2008-09 financial crisis.

In other words, the Federal Reserve Bank is setting the stage for a major crash. Verde and Gates add:

A decade of low growth and low interest rates has been a catalyst for formidable changes in non-financial corporate credit quality.

Much of the reason is the low economic growth rate that Fed pump priming and extraordinarily low interest rates have managed to produce. This constellation--low interest rates, increasing default risk, slow growth--comes about because of strong Baby Boomer demand for investment return coupled with the Fed’s deliberate reduction in interest rates to sustain its low-wage, slow-growth economic regime, supported by both the Democratic and Republican parties.

The Boomers should be renamed the Screwedmers. They let the Greatest Generation screw them on Social Security, and now they are letting the Fed screw them on interest rates and future crashes that will occur when the are most in need of assets.

Verde and Gates conclude:

When defaults do eventually spike, credit losses are likely to be elevated, Moody's says. Today speculative-grade companies have some $3.7 trillion in rated debt outstanding, with B1 or lower rated debt accounting for about $2 trillion of this total.

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