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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):
October 28, 2008

Currency & Asset Values Continue To Fall Worldwide

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"This is the biggest currency crisis the world has ever seen", said Neil Mellor, a strategist at Bank of New York Mellon. Western European banks may be at even greater risk of failure than U.S. banks due to their exposure to America's toxic derivatives (Collaterized Debt Obligations (CDOs), Credit Default Swaps (CDS), Structured Investment Vehicles (SIVs), and other complex financial instruments) as well as their risky "emerging markets" investments.

Recent data from the Bank for International Settlements (they handle most of the derivatives exchanges in the world) seems to show that Western European banks hold most of the exposure or risk to the emerging market bubble. This same emerging market bubble is now bursting spectacularly along with the stock, bond, real estate, commoditities, and derivatives bubbles worldwide.

Listed below are various European banks, and their respective exposure to the emerging markets bubble as compared to their annual percentage of GNP (Gross National Product):

1.) Austria: 85% 
2.) Switzerland: 50%
3.) Sweden: 25%
4.) United Kingdom (UK): 24%
5.) Spain: 23%

As a result of the serious problems associated with European banks, many investors are pulling their cash out of these weakening financial institutions. In addition, many European investors are selling their UK Pounds and Euros in order to find "safer" alternative investments (gold, silver, etc.).

The flight to quality investments is causing many currency values worldwide to plummet in value. One currency that has dropped in value DRAMATICALLY in just the past day or two is the Australian Dollar. One of the articles that I write monthly for the nationally published Creative Real Estate Magazine is entitled the "Stats Page". Within the monthly "Stats Page", I list the most recent values of major currencies as compared to the U.S. Dollar. 

I always include the Australian Dollar within the monthy "Stats Page". It usually trades close to par with the dollar at an even $1 US for a $1 Australian. However, in just the past day or two the Australian Dollar has plunged to just below 60 cents per U.S. Dollar. Australia's Central Bank has tried to provide more liquidity to their financial markets in order to boost the value of their rampantly declining Australian Dollar as well as to improve the value of their equities market. 

Hopefully, the Aussie economy as well as the rest of the world's economy may improve in the near term, or it will be a turbulent time for many of us.

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