U.S. Housing and the Consumer
I have already established the link between unprecedented credit and debt expansion, and the rampant paper wealth-reflation in the U.S. housing sector.
I have also discussed the macroinfluence of more than one trillion dollars in mortgage-equity withdrawal, and described how the U.S. consumer has lived high on the hog for many moons on borrowed money, and now, without permanent reflation in housing, on borrowed time, too.
A popular analogy is worthy of mention. Pundits accurately look at the pumped up and consumption-crazed U.S. consumer as being under the influence of monetary steroids, fed intravenously through a record low cost of money and excess available credit.
The U.S. consumer is running on roids. You could make a case to suggest that the U.S. consumer is addicted to this monetary steroid. Without it, reflated paper housing wealth shrivels, just as a muscle without juice will atrophy as it endures withdrawal. A consumer withdrawal would mean ridding the body of the monetary steroids, and bringing the muscle mass (debt) down to a manageable level with a sound fiscal and monetary regimen.
I doubt that achieving a soft landing is even possible, in the sense of expecting a debt-liquidation “detox” that can go smoothly for the patient (the U.S. consumer). Monetary steroid withdrawal and debtdetox are scary phrases. They portend a consumer who is forced into a consumption cocoon, where retrenchment is the catch phrase, and the word ...

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