Sorry for the cliché, but the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Nowhere is this more painfully obvious than in the financial industry – where cracks are expanding in already porous credit dykes all over the world.
You think we'd have learned from the disastrous effects of the Great Recession 15 years ago.
But after additional years of excess from banks stuck with piles of buyout debt, a pension blow-up in the UK and real-estate troubles in China, South Korea and more recently the U.S., we’re finding again that what’s past is prologue.
Thanks to global central bank rate hiking, cheap money is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
Distressed debt in the U.S. alone jumped more than 300% in 12 months, according to Bloomberg News.
Plus, high-yield issuance is much more challenging in places like Europe, and leverage ratios have reached record levels.
The aggressive rate hikes have dramatically changed the landscape for lending – stressing credit markets and pushing economies toward recessions, a scenario that markets have yet to price in.
Nearly $650 billion of bonds and loans are distressed, according to Bloomberg.
It’s all adding up to the biggest test of the stress tolerance of corporate credit since the 2008 financial crisis and may be the spark for a wave of coming defaults.
Will Nicoll, chief investment officer at M&G, said, “It is very difficult to see how the default cycle will not run its course, given the level of interest rates.”
Banks say their wider credit models are proving robust so far, but they’ve begun setting aside more money for missed payments.
Loan-loss provisions at systematically important banks surged 75% in the 3rd quarter compared to 2021 – a clear indication they’re preparing for payment issues and defaults.
Most economists see at least a moderate GDP slump over the coming year.
Some, like Paul Singer of Elliott Management, however, fear a deep recession could cause significant credit issues because the global financial system is “vastly over-leveraged.”
Citigroup economists believe rolling recessions are likely across the globe next year, with the U.S. likely to slip into one by the middle of next year.
Mike Scott at Man GLG warned that “markets seem to be expecting a soft landing in the U.S. that may not happen.”