Continuing the analysis of today's Z.1 report, we next focus on recent developments in the shadow banking system. And it's a bloodbath: total shadow bank liabilities dropped by $680 billion in Q2, and a massive $2.1 trillion YTD. If one wonders why Ben Bernanke (yes, it's technically TurboTim) continues to print trillions and trillions of debt, and it is still doing nothing (yet) to stimulate the system, here is your answer.
As credit will only exist if i) it is needed and ii) there are cash paying assets (or at least the myth thereof) to support its existence, the latest plunge in the shadow banking system is merely the most recent confirmation that the deleveraging in America is only just beginning. In fact, from the peak of the credit bubble in Q2 2008, through Q2, total bank liabilities (shadow and traditional) have plunged by $2.6 trillion, from $32.1 trillion to $29.5 trillion. Yet it is the collapse in shadow banking that was responsible, with shadow liabilities falling by a stunning 20% from $21 trillion to $17 trillion in just over two years even as banks have benefitted from the transfer of cheap government cheap on their traditional lending books (think Fed intervention and QE, leading to record low interest rates).
What this means is very clear: the shadow banking system is collapsing, period. Yes, the rate of collapse is slower than in Q1, but the total plunge was still a whopping $4.2 trillion annualized for 2010. And the delta between Shadow Banking and Traditional liabilities has collapsed from $10.7 trillion at the peak in March 2008, down to under $4 trillion. This is a record amount of "money" being removed from the system, and explains why, for now at least, the velocity of money is nothing faster than a crawl.
That said, if and when this indicator plateaus and recommences climbing, will be a very "sensitive" moment for all deflationists and inflationists as it will mark the inflection point from credit contraction to renewed credit creation. Alternatively, the Fed can merely force credit into traditional bank liabilities, which banks can then proceed to use and purchase stocks and commodities, at a zero cost of debt. What that will do to select asset prices, we leave to our readers' imagination.
Chart 1: Total sub-components of the shadow banking system
Chart 2: Comparison of shadow banking and traditional commercial bank liabilities
Chart 3: Consolidated shadow and commercial bank liabilities and sequential change