FT.com / Markets / Insight – Insight: Reclogging the US credit system

Via Reclogging the US credit system, Caitlin Long warns us that there is another impending credit fuelled bubble that is due to be created to accommodate the commercial property market renewals in the next few years. Either a new bubble will emerge as this large level of re-issuance is financed by new bank credit creation, or there will be another bust of epic proportions should this not happen.

Either-way, if it gets funded, this will cause more mis-allocation of capital to this and associated sectors postponing the recovery. If it does not get funded, then we could be back with another Lehman style “event” with all its terrible consequences.

The US financial system faces a daunting challenge in the next five years: $4,200bn of debt that is largely of speculative quality comes due in the commercial real estate and non-investment grade debt markets. At best, this wall of maturing US debt will strain credit capacity. At worst, it will prolong the credit crunch and restrain economic growth.

The next two years are crucial, since delay by banks and other lenders in recognising losses on commercial real estate loans could lead to a pile-up of debt maturities in the credit system in 2012 as this is when loans to highly leveraged corporate borrowers begin to mature en masse.

Such a 2012 reclogging of the credit system, if it happens, could force businesses to liquidate bad investments or pressure the Fed to re-open the monetary and credit spigots, potentially complicating the Fed’s exit from its existing stimulus programs.

The biggest risk to refinancing capacity for this wall of maturing debt, though, is the Fed raising interest rates to control inflationary pressures and dollar depreciation, if necessary. Higher interest rates would preclude marginal borrowers from qualifying for refinancing, regardless of whether credit capacity exists.

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