No matter how much liquidity the Fed and Treasury pump into the system, they can't seem to get the banks to lend.
(MarketWatch) -- U.S. banks are reducing their lending at the fastest rate on record, tightening the credit squeeze and threatening to leave many otherwise viable businesses unable to borrow money to expand their businesses, meet their payroll or refinance their maturing debts.
According to weekly figures provided by the Federal Reserve, total loans at commercial banks have fallen at a 19% annual rate over the past three months, while loans to businesses have dropped at a 28% annualized pace.
In the credit-based economy we have (as opposed to an economy based around producing things), a tightening of credit is destined to choke off any possible recovery.
In the first and second quarters, the U.S. private sector consumed more capital than it raised for the first time in more than 60 years. Negative net investment is "the hallmark of depression and difficult to reverse," said economist Leigh Skene of Lombard Street Research.
The big drop in credit also shows up as slower money growth. In the past 13 weeks, the money supply has fallen 0.3%. Most new money is created by borrowing, as banks credit the borrower's account with the proceeds of a loan. Conversely, the money supply is reduced when debts are paid off or written off. Deflation is not a threat -- it's already here.