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Skyrocketing Consumer Debt & Falling Rates
With home mortgages, the primary collateral for the loan balance is the home itself. In the event of a future default, the lender can file a foreclosure notice and take the property back several months later. With automobile loans, the car dealership or current lender servicing the loan can repossess the car.


Homeowners often refinance their non-deductible consumer debt that generally have shorter terms, much higher interest rates, and no tax benefits most often into newer cash-out refinance mortgage loans that reduce their monthly debt obligations. While this can be wise for many property owners, it may be a bit risky for other property owners if they leverage their homes too much.

With credit cards, lenders don’t have any real collateral to protect their financial interests, which is why the interest rates can easily be double-digits about 10%, 20%, or 30% in annual rates and fees, regardless of any national usury laws that were meant to protect borrowers from being charged “unnecessarily and unfairly high rates and fees” as usury laws were originally designed to do when first drafted.

Zero Hedge has reported that 50% of Americans don’t have access to even $400 cash for an emergency situation. Some tenants pay upwards of 50% to 60% of their income on rent. A past 2017 study by Northwestern Mutual noted the following details in regard to the lack of cash and high credit card balances for upwards of 50% of young and older Americans today:

* 50% of Baby Boomers have basically no retirement savings.

* 50% of Americans (excluding mortgage balances) have outstanding debt balances (credit cards, etc.) of more than $25,000. 

* The average American with debt has credit card balances of $37,000, and an annual income of just $30,000. 

* Over 45% of consumers spend up to 50% of their monthly income on debt repayments that are typically near minimum monthly payments.

 

Rising Global Debt 

 

According to a report released by IIF (Institute of International Finance) Global Debt Monitor, debt rose to a whopping $246 trillion in the 1st quarter of 2019. In just the first three months of 2019, global debt increased by a staggering $3 trillion dollar amount. The rate of global debt far outpaced the rate of economic growth in the same first quarter of 2019 as the total debt/GDP (Gross Domestic Product) ratio rose to 320%.

The same IIF Global Debt Monitor report for Q1 2019 noted that the debt by sector as a percentage of GDP as follows:

  
Households: 59.8%

* Non-financial corporates: 91.4%

* Government: 87.2%

* Financial corporates: 80.8%

 


Rate Cuts and Negative Yields

As of 2019, there’s reportedly an estimated $13.64 trillion dollars worldwide that generates negative yields or returns for the investors who hold government or corporate bonds. This same $13.64 trillion dollar number represents approximately 25% of all sovereign or corporate bond debt worldwide. 

 

On July 31, 2019, the Federal Reserve announced that they cut short-term rates 0.25% (a quarter point). Their new target range for its overnight lending rate is now somewhere within the 2% to 2.25% rate range. This is 25 basis points lower than their last Fed meeting decision reached on June 19th. This was the first rate cut since the start of the financial recession (or depression) in almost 11 years ago dating back to December 2008.
 

It’s fairly likely that the Fed will cut rates one or more times in future 2020 meeting dates. If so, short and long-term borrowing costs may move downward and become more affordable for consumers and homeowners. If this happens, then it may be a boost to the housing and financial markets for so long as the economy stabilizes in other sectors as well such as international trade, consumer spending and the retail sector, government deficit spending levels, and other economic factors or trends.

We shall see what happens in the near future in 2020 and beyond.

* The blog article above is a partial excerpt from my previous article entitled Interest Rate and Home Price Swings in the Realty 411 Magazine linked below (pages 87 - 91):
June 1, 2009

GM Collapses & The Bond Market Worsens

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Sadly, General Motors (once the largest corporation in the world) filed for bankruptcy protection (Chapter 11). Today, GM announced that they may have over $170 billion in debt.

As far back as five years ago, GM's underfunded pension and health care liabilities were almost five (5) times the combined market value of the once mighty automaker. As my friends, family, and clients may remember, I predicted the future bankruptcy of GM, Ford, and Chrysler several years ago after learning how bad their debt to asset ratios were back then.

On a parallel note, the Federal Reserve also announced that they are not "targeting long rates" in response to the increasing 10 year Treasury yields (affects 30 year mortgage rates) in recent weeks. The Fed, supposedly, is not sure what is causing Treasury rates to worsen in recent times.

Listed below may be some reasons for the weakening U.S. Treasury Bond market:

* Rising Treasury yields and a steepening yield curve may mean that investors (domestic and foreign) are worried about the U.S. fiscal outlook due to the declining job market, record deficits, and declining asset values (stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities, etc.).

* Some investors are concerned about the potential collapse of the U.S. dollar, and rampant, runaway hyperinflation equivalent to the old Weimar Republic in Germany (early 1920s) partly due to the trillions and trillions of dollars being created "out of thin air" by both the Fed and the U.S. Treasury.

* Also, China and Japan have consistently purchased over 50% of the outstanding U.S. Treasury debt in recent years. Recently, China (the overall largest holder of U.S. Treasury debt) has decided to purchase shorter term U.S. Treasury debt than the typical 10 year Treasury debt.

After taxes and inflation, many of these bond "investments" are generating negative returns to investors so a 10 year Treasury investment doesn't look as appealing as it once did in the past. If you are thinking about refinancing your home, or locking into a purchase loan in the near term, then it may be wise to consider locking sooner rather than later as the long term rate outlooks continue to worsen.

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