What follows is an edited version, with various clarifications, of an article by Mike Whitney, posted August 21st 2009 at: http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/Archives2009/WhitneyDemolition.html
All the statistics, below, are from the original article.
Credit is not flowing. In fact, credit is contracting. When credit contracts in a consumer-driven economy, bad things happen. Business investment drops, unemployment soars, earnings plunge, and GDP shrinks. The Fed has spent more than a trillion dollars trying to get consumers to start borrowing again, but without success. The country's credit engines are slowing to a crawl.
Fed chairman Ben Bernanke has increased excess reserves in the banking system by $800 billion, but lending is still slow. The banks are hoarding capital in order to deal with the losses from toxic assets, non performing loans, and a $3.5 trillion commercial real estate bubble that's following housing into the toilet. That's why the rate of bank failures is accelerating. 2010 will be even worse; the list is growing. It's a bloodbath.
The standards for conventional loans have gotten tougher while the pool of qualified credit-worthy borrowers has shrunk. That means less credit flowing into the system. The shadow banking system has been hobbled by the freeze in securitization and only provides a trifling portion of the credit needed to grow the economy. Bernanke's initiatives haven't made a bit of difference. Credit continues to shrivel.
The S&P 500 is up 50 per cent from its March lows. The financials, retail, materials and industrials are leading the pack. It's a "Green Shoots" bear market rally fueled by the Fed's "Quantitative Easing," which is forcing liquidity into the financial system and lifting equities. The same thing happened during the Great Depression. Stocks surged after 1929. Then the prevailing trend took hold and dragged the Dow down 89 per cent from its earlier highs. The S&P's March lows will be tested before the recession is over. Systemwide deleveraging is ongoing. The economy is resetting at a lower rate of activity.