While JPMorgan Chase appears to have had a good first quarter, its earnings show evidence that a massive credit contraction is underway.
"Total loans declined from $693 billion to $686 billion, or 1%, with a 3% decline in consumer loans (every area was lower)," Mike Mayo of Credit Agricole reports.
Earlier this month, we learned from the minutes of the Federal Reserve that credit contracted "substantially" in January and February. Now we have the JPMorgan earnings illustrating this.
A 3 percent decline in consumer loans is pretty extreme. While this might be good for the long-run—households are repairing their balance sheets by taking on less debt—it is definitely not a good sign for near term economic growth. Declining consumer credit could push us into another recession—or be evidence that one has already begun.
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