Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Climate Change Mass Extinction - Birds, Bees and Bugs: Going Going Gone - Richard_Mills
2.A Purrrfect Gold Price Setup! - Peter_Degraaf
3.Who Finances America's Borrowing? Recession Indicator for Independent Thinkers Part 2 - F_F_Wiley
4.America’s One-sided Domestic Financial War - Raymond_Matison
5.Gold Price Summer Doldrums - Zeal_LLC
6.Two Key Events Will Unleash Gold - Jim_Willie_CB
7.Billionaire Schools Teacher in NAFTA Trade Talks - Richard_Mills
8.Get Out Of Crypto Cannabis Bubble Before It Pops and Move Into Bargain Basement Miners - Jeb_Handwerger
9.Stock Market Could Pullback for 1-2 weeks, But Medium Term Bullish - Troy_Bombardia
10.G7 Chaos, Central Banks and US Fed Will Drive Stock Prices This Week - Chris_Vermeulen
Last 7 days
How Crazy It Is to Short Gold with RSI Close to 30 - 16th Jul 18
Markets Pay Attention Moment - China’s Bubble Economy Ripe for Bursting - 16th Jul 18
Stock Market Uptrend Continues, But... - 16th Jul 18
Emerging Markets Could Be Starting A Relief Rally - 16th Jul 18
(Only) a Near-term Stock Market Top? - 16th Jul 18
Trump Fee-Fi-Foe-Fum Declares European Union America's Enemy! - 16th Jul 18
US Stocks Set For Further Advances As Q2 Earnings Start - 15th Jul 18
Stock Market vs. Gold, Long-term Treasury Yields, 10yr-2yr Yield Curve 3 Amigo's Update - 15th Jul 18
China vs the US - The Road to War - 14th Jul 18
Uncle Sam’s Debt-Money System Is Immoral, Tantamount to Theft - 14th Jul 18
Staying in a Caravan - UK Summer Holidays 2018 - Cayton Bay Hoseasons Holiday Park - 14th Jul 18
Gold Stocks Summer Lows - 14th Jul 18
Trump US Trade War With China, Europe Consequences, Implications and Forecasts - 13th Jul 18
Gold Standard Requirements & Currency Crisis - 13th Jul 18
Focus on the Greenback, Will USD Fall Below Euro 1.6? - 13th Jul 18
Stock Market Outlook 2018 - Bullish or Bearish - 13th Jul 18
Rising Inflation is Not Bearish for Stocks - 13th Jul 18
Bitcoin Picture Less Than Pretty - 13th Jul 18
How International Observers Undervalue the Chinese Bond Market - 13th Jul 18
Stocks Trying to Break Higher Again, Will They? - 12th Jul 18
The Rise and Fall of Global Trade – Redux - 12th Jul 18
Corporate Earnings Q2 2018 Will Probably be Strong. What This Means for Stocks - 12th Jul 18
Is the Relative Strength in Gold Miners to Gold Price Significant? - 12th Jul 18
Live Cattle Commodity Trading Analysis - 12th Jul 18
Gold’s & Silver’s Reversals’ Reversal - 12th Jul 18
The Value of Bitcoin - 11th Jul 18
America a Nation Built on Lies - 11th Jul 18
China, Asia and Emerging Markets Could Result In Chaos - 11th Jul 18
Bullish Gold Markets in the Big Picture? - 11th Jul 18
A Public Bank for Los Angeles? City Council Puts It to the Voters - 11th Jul 18
Yield Curve Inversion a Remarkably Accurate Warning Indicator For Economic & Market Peril - 11th Jul 18
Argentina Should Scrap the Peso and Dollarize - 11th Jul 18
Can the Stock Market Close Higher For a Record 10th Year in a Row? - 11th Jul 18
Why Life Insurance Is A Must In Financial Planning - 9th Jul 18
Crude Oil Possibly Setting Up For A Big Downside Move - 9th Jul 18
BREAKING: New Tech Just Unlocked A Trillion Barrels Of Oil - 9th Jul 18
How Trade Wars Penalize Asian Currencies - 9th Jul 18
Another Stock Market Drop Next Week? - 9th Jul 18
Are the Stock Market Bulls Starting to Run? - 9th Jul 18

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

5 "Tells" that the Stock Markets Are About to Reverse

Will Debt Leverage Leverage Gold?

Commodities / Gold and Silver 2018 Apr 13, 2018 - 03:06 PM GMT

By: Arkadiusz_Sieron

Commodities

Attention, please! The leverage in the stock market has been recently rising. As one can see in the chart below, the stock market margin debt surged more than $113 billion in 2017, one of the largest annual surges. Moreover, it was the ninth annual increase in a row.


Chart 1: Stock Market Margin Debt (in $ billions) from February 2010 to January 2018.

As a reminder, margin debt is a borrowing against investors’ portfolios – it means that individuals borrow money against their existing stocks to buy even more stocks. Smart way to boost gains, right? Of course, at least until the bears are unleashed and investors receive “margin calls” – the key problem with margin debt is that is works like leverage. It accelerates bull markets, but also the declines.

Should we worry about the increase in margin debt, then? Well, yes – and no. The marginal debt spiked both before the dot-com crash and the Great Recession. Moreover, the margin debt increased also relative to the nominal GDP or the S&P 500 Index since the previous peak.

But the fact that previous records preceded crises doesn’t imply that we are headed for a collapse now. There were also multiple periods where a bear market didn’t follow after the margin debt peaked.

As John Templeton famously said, “Bull markets are born on pessimism, grown on skepticism, mature on optimism and die on euphoria.” The rise in marginal debt certainly indicates the rise in investors’ confidence, but the current bull market is probably the most hated ever. The margin debt has been rising because interest rates are so low, not because investors expect that the market will explode. Actually, margin debt as a percent of the total market cap has generally been flat since the Great Recession. This is why – unfortunately for gold bulls – we believe that although the margin debt may be a red flag, it doesn’t signal the end of world.

The ultra-low interest rates also bred enormous student loan debt. Americans owe about $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, about $620 billion more than the total U.S. credit card debt! According to the Brookings Institute, almost 40 percent of borrowers will default on their student loans by 2023. The student debt crisis is worse than we thought, but does it have the potential to hinder the whole economy?

We believe that the student indebtedness is a hard hit for people who cannot service the debt, but it’s not a threat for overall financial stability. What we mean here is that the students’ problems may cut their disposable income, spending and delays their homeownership, but even if the student loan bubble bursts (which is not set in stone due to the odd bankruptcy law), the federal government backs most of these debts. Hence, gold bulls shouldn’t count on the next bank crisis caused by student loans and the resulting surge in the safe-haven demand for the yellow metal. Such a scenario is unlikely.

Subprime auto debt is also booming, even as defaults soar. Something worrisome is happening, that’s for sure (loan-underwriting standards are very lax, to put it euphemistically). However, the risks are limited, at least compared to the previous housing bubble. Before it burst, about $1.2 trillion of bonds backed by home loans were issued (about $400 billion were subprime). That compares to the $25 billion of bonds pooling subprime auto loans issued in 2017. So the auto debt bubble shouldn’t cause another global financial crisis, supporting gold prices.

Summing up, the pile of global debts is one of the major risks at the moment. In particular, the high level of household debt in Canada (above the level of Canadian GDP!) and the China’s build-up of debt (the total debt to GDP has risen above 250 percent in 2017, with rapidly growing household debt) are the most worrying debt-related concerns.

Luckily for Americans, but unfortunately for gold bulls, the situation in the U.S. is much better, at least when it comes to the private debt (the threats related to the rising federal debt that we have already discussed). The key is that the both the households and the private non-financial companies deleveraged after the crisis (see the chart below), so there is potential for further economic expansion.

Chart 2: Total credit to private non-financial sector (in % to GDP) from 1952 to 2017.

The margin debt has been rising, but we are far from euphoria. During irrational exuberance, the marginal debt usually increases multiple times above the average change in equity prices – and we are not quite there yet. The student and auto loans are booming, but these bubbles shouldn’t cause a systematic financial crisis.

What does it mean for the gold market? Well, the high levels of debt are certainly worrying, especially during the Fed’s tightening cycle. If something bad happens, debt will become a burden and the yellow metal should gain as a safe-haven. However, with gradual interest rate hikes and subdued inflation, the expansion may last for a while, despite the high indebtedness. The situation of households is better than before the Great Recession. The public debt is more troublesome, but investors should remember that the U.S. dollar is a world reserve currency, so the bankruptcy of Uncle Sam is rather unlikely. So, it is definitely worth monitoring the debt cycles. In the long-run, rising interest rates and increasing debt with an over-leveraged economy is the best recipe for disaster, we totally agree. However, the recent fears seem to be a bit overblown, at least in the short-run.

If you enjoyed the above analysis and would you like to know more about the gold ETFs and their impact on gold price, we invite you to read the April Market Overview report. If you're interested in the detailed price analysis and price projections with targets, we invite you to sign up for our Gold & Silver Trading Alerts . If you're not ready to subscribe at this time, we invite you to sign up for our gold newsletter and stay up-to-date with our latest free articles. It's free and you can unsubscribe anytime.

Arkadiusz Sieron
Sunshine Profits‘ Market Overview Editor

Disclaimer

All essays, research and information found above represent analyses and opinions of Przemyslaw Radomski, CFA and Sunshine Profits' associates only. As such, it may prove wrong and be a subject to change without notice. Opinions and analyses were based on data available to authors of respective essays at the time of writing. Although the information provided above is based on careful research and sources that are believed to be accurate, Przemyslaw Radomski, CFA and his associates do not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the data or information reported. The opinions published above are neither an offer nor a recommendation to purchase or sell any securities. Mr. Radomski is not a Registered Securities Advisor. By reading Przemyslaw Radomski's, CFA reports you fully agree that he will not be held responsible or liable for any decisions you make regarding any information provided in these reports. Investing, trading and speculation in any financial markets may involve high risk of loss. Przemyslaw Radomski, CFA, Sunshine Profits' employees and affiliates as well as members of their families may have a short or long position in any securities, including those mentioned in any of the reports or essays, and may make additional purchases and/or sales of those securities without notice.

Arkadiusz Sieron Archive

© 2005-2018 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules