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Is the debt bubble supporting the world economy in danger of collapsing?

by Gail Tverberg


The years between 1981 and 2020 were very special years for the world economy because interest rates were generally falling:

In some sense, falling interest rates meant that debt was becoming increasingly affordable. The monthly out-of-pocket expense for a new $500,000 mortgage was falling lower and lower. Automobile payments for a new $30,000 vehicle could more easily be accommodated into a person’s budget. A business would find it more affordable to add $5,000,000 in new debt to open at an additional location. With these beneficial effects, it would be no surprise if a debt bubble were to form.

With an ever-lower cost of debt, the economy has had a hidden tailwind pushing it long between 1981 to 2020. Now that interest rates are again rising, the danger is that a substantial portion of this debt bubble may collapse. My concern is that the economy may be heading for an incredibly hard landing because of the inter-relationship between interest rates and energy prices (Figure 2), and the important role energy plays in powering the economy…


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