This Is How America Has Changed Since The Last Fed Rate Hike

On June 29, 2006, the Fed did something it would not do again for (at least) nine and a half years: it hiked rates by 25 basis points, its 17th consecutive rate hike. Everyone knows what happened after.

On December 16, 2015, the Fed is expected to do something it hasn't done for 3,457 days: hike rates by 25 bps, ending the longest period in US history (84 months) of zero interest rates.

How has the world changed in the interim? Some quick observations from BofA:

  • Back then US housing starts were booming (2¼ million per annum), a stock market bubble was taking place in Saudi Arabia, another one was forming in China, no one had heard of “Quantitative Easing” and there was no such thing as the iPhone.
  • Today, US housing starts are moribund (around 1 million per annum), the Saudi’s have just been downgraded (a devaluation of the Saudi riyal is one of BofAML’s noted “black swan” events in 2016), Chinese debt deflation has reduced China’s “growth” opportunity set to babies, tourists & capital outflows, central banks have purchased a remarkable $12,400,000,000,000 of financial assets since Bear Stearns, and the iPhone now powers retail sales.

And here is the biggest difference: back then total debt/GDP was 61%, with total debt just over $8 trillion. Now, it is 104%, with the total US debt just shy of $19 trillion.

Good luck Fed.