Using Chicago Fed National Financial Conditions Credit Subindex (weekly, not seasonally adjusted data), I have plotted credit conditions measurements for expansionary cycles from 1971 through late August 2019. Positive values of the index indicate tightening of credit conditions in the economy, while negative values denote loosening of credit conditions.
Since the start of the 1982 expansionary cycle, every consecutive cycle was associated with sustained, long-term loosening of credit conditions, which means the Fed and the regulatory authorities have effectively pumped up credit in the economy during economic expansions - a mark of a pro-cyclical approach to financial policies. This trend became extreme in the last three expansionary cycles, including the current one. In simple terms, credit conditions from the end of the 1990s recession through today have been exceptionally accommodating. Not surprisingly, all three expansionary cycles in question have been associated with massive increases in leverage and financialization of the economy, as well as resulting asset bubbles (dot.com bubble in the 1990s, property bubble in the 2000s, and financial assets bubbles in the 2010s).
The current cycle, however, takes this broader trend toward pro-cyclical financial policies to a new level in terms of the duration of accommodation and the fact that it lacks any significant indication of moderation.
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