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Households pay down debts for first time

The User's Profile Chris Martenson December 11, 2008
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Mayday! Mayday!

This next story outlines a dire condition for a debt-based monetary system:

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) – Stung by the loss of $2.81 trillion in their net wealth, U.S. households paid down their debts in the third quarter for the first time since at least 1952, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday.

As of Sept. 30, households’ total outstanding debt shrank at an annual rate of 0.8% from $13.94 trillion to $13.91 trillion, the Fed said in its quarterly flow of funds report. It’s the first decline in household debt ever recorded in the report.

Consumer debt actually reversed.   This strange behavior has never before been observed in this data series and it goes back to 1952.

Whether we use an "outside-in" empirical approach to observe that debt and money have been created in exponential amounts over the past six decades, or an "inside-out" approach to demonstrate a mathematical requirement for the exponential creation of money/debt, we come to the same conclusion:   We live in an exponential money system.

For this reason, the failure of consumer debt to expand at the required rate is very big news.   What’s "the required rate"?  Roughly the aggregate rate of interest on all outstanding debts.

It seems that the hit came from the first ever recorded drop in mortgage debt:

Households paid off more mortgage debt than they took on for the first time on record. Mortgage debt fell at a 2.4% annual rate to $10.54 trillion. Other consumer debts, such as credit cards and auto loans, increased at a 1.2% annual rate in the quarter to $2.6 trillion.

I am not certain if the mortgages were paid down or defaulted upon, but the article implies that they were paid down.  I am less sure of that given the massive foreclosure rates that are plastered all over the news.

Given that consumers are not pulling their weight, how is the system being held together?  Readers of the last two Martenson Reports will not be surprised by the answer:

Total U.S. domestic nonfinancial debt increased at a 7.2% annual rate, boosted by a postwar record 39.2% increase in debt taken on by the federal government.

You can try and understand all the confusing alphabet soup lending facilities offered by the Fed, and try to track details of all the new borrowing by the government, but it is all really very simple to understand if we back up a bit. 

New borrowing and lending is being undertaken by the Fed-government axis at a rate sufficient to equal all the outstanding interest payments on prior debts.  

Without this new money creation defaults by somebody somewhere in the system is guaranteed.

Compounding the difficulties of the monetary and fiscal authorities is the fact that debts are already defaulting at a horrific clip.

All in all this leads me to conclude that when it comes to borrowing and new money creation, we haven’t seen anything yet.

And still, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that there is an illness that lurks within the very design of the money system itself, there is precious little commentary on that subject in main stream media or the dominant political parties.

It’s time to change that.