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Old 19th March 2012, 05:01 PM
Merrill Goozner Merrill Goozner is offline
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Default Deleveraging, But Still Not Enough Income Growth

What caused the Great Recession? The simplest explanation is too much debt. Too many first-time homebuyers bought houses they could not afford; too many homeowners used their bubble-inflated home equity like a piggybank; too many consumers maxed out on their credit cards. The business and financial sectors engaged in their own debt binges during the 2000s. Too many companies used debt to buy back stock; too many banks made faulty loans; too many hedge funds used other peoplesí money to speculate in derivatives tied to collateralized debt obligations; and too many private equity firms borrowed to buy out companies. When enough loans go bad, the excesses are exposed, the banks stop lending, and people and businesses reach the end of their credit rope. The bubble bursts. Then the contagion spreads. The only path forward is to stop spending, start paying off old bills and save. The process is known as deleveraging, which historical experience suggests is always longest and most painful after a debt-fueled financial crisis. The U.S. is now in its fourth year of deleveraging in the wake of the 2007-08 credit collapse. And while there are growing signs that the process has reached the point where consumers can [...]

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