The Picture of a Credit Crunch

By: Paul Kasriel | Mon, Jun 30, 2008
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Not to belabor the point I have made in recent commentaries, but last Friday afternoon's report from the Fed of assets and liabilities of commercial banks in the U.S. showed the sharpest 13-week contraction in bank credit - loans and investments - in the history of the series, which dates back to January 3, 1973. In the 13 weeks ended June 18, bank credit contracted at an annualized rate of 9.14% (see Chart 1 below). Because of current or expected capital inadequacy, banks are reining in their earning assets and, therefore, are not availing themselves of the cheap credit the Fed is offering to fund them at. This suggests that the 2% fed funds rate in the current context does not represent as accommodative a monetary policy as it would if the banking system were willing and able to extend credit to the private sector.

Chart 1


More Regions Report Weakening Manufacturing Activity in June

In recent weeks the Philly Fed and the Buffalo branch of the New York Fed have reported weaker new orders in the manufacturing sector for June. Today, the Chicago, Milwaukee and Dallas "precincts" reported their June manufacturing results. The story is the same - weaker new orders. Chart 2 contains the new orders indexes as reported by the Chicago and Milwaukee purchasing managers. Chart 3 contains the new orders data from the Dallas Fed manufacturing survey. These reports plus the ones from Philly and Buffalo suggest that the new orders index in June ISM manufacturing report will be down, too.

Chart 2

Chart 3



Paul Kasriel

Author: Paul Kasriel

Paul L. Kasriel
Director of Economic Research
The Northern Trust Company
Economic Research Department
Positive Economic Commentary
"The economics of what is, rather than what you might like it to be."
50 South LaSalle Street, Chicago, Illinois 60675

Paul Kasriel

Paul joined the economic research unit of The Northern Trust Company in 1986 as Vice President and Economist, being named Senior Vice President and Director of Economic Research in 2000. His economic and interest rate forecasts are used both internally and by clients. The accuracy of the Economic Research Department's forecasts has consistently been highly-ranked in the Blue Chip survey of about 50 forecasters over the years. To that point, Paul received the prestigious 2006 Lawrence R. Klein Award for having the most accurate economic forecast among the Blue Chip survey participants for the years 2002 through 2005. The accuracy of Paul's 2008 economic forecast was ranked in the top five of The Wall Street Journal survey panel of economists. In January 2009, The Wall Street Journal and Forbes cited Paul as one of the few who identified early on the formation of the housing bubble and foresaw the economic and financial market havoc that would ensue after the bubble inevitably burst. Through written commentaries containing his straightforward and often nonconsensus analysis of economic and financial market issues, Paul has developed a loyal following in the financial community. The Northern's economic website was listed as one of the top ten most interesting by The Wall Street Journal. Paul is the co-author of a book entitled Seven Indicators That Move Markets.

Paul began his career as a research economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He has taught courses in finance at the DePaul University Kellstadt Graduate School of Business and at the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Paul serves on the Economic Advisory Committee of the American Bankers Association.

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